Friday, October 28, 2011

1st Colorado Birthday for Mom

Okay, it was a couple days ago...but still...

My mom just moved to Colorado this summer. I've been encouraging it for several years now and finally she decided it was the right time. The state gave her a glorious autumn, as we often have, and she marveled at the colors and the warm sunshine and that we were grilling the 3rd week in October (she loves my grilled chicken!)

Then came her birthday and a big winter storm. Fortunately for us, we were all saved from the power outages that resulted from an unusually heavy, wet snow...and many broken branches and trees across town.

So going out to eat to celebrate was taken off the table and instead we opted to eat in. We brought over a big pot of chili, some corn bread and vegetables and pie. See...I really do refuse to diet!

One of the best things about my mom being here, for my eating habits at least, is that she actually needs to gain weight. Sounds funny, right? Well, her appetite is small, so it forces me to slow down. Pretty much if I am finished she'll stop eating. Since I don't want to eat MORE, I have taken to putting my fork (or spoon) down and pausing much more frequently. I still eat more than she does (it would be hard NOT to) but this is a good habit for me to develop. And it allows me to enjoy things like cornbread and pie...all things in moderation, right? Right!

Now I just need to remember to practice it even when I'm not eating with Mom!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weight Loss Meals

I know a lot of people tell you to avoid all carbohydrates if you are trying to lose weight. I do not believe that is a healthy path to be on...nor is it realistic, even if they mean "starches" rather than true carbohydrates.

Instead, eat foods that provide you a balance of nutrients for optimum health. Give yourself a break--not every meal has to be perfectly balanced...look at what you eat on the whole. So in a given day or week are you eating enough fruits and vegetables, are you getting in healthy fats, etc.

Eat consciously, mindfully, rather than distractedly or unconsciously.

And include some carbs (yes, even "starches") in your menus. They help us to feel satisfied and avoid feelings of deprivation which can lead to binges later.

For example, for our mid-day meal today (it will be our main meal, which is common for us on Sundays these days since Mom has moved to town) we are having pork roast (very lean), baked potatoes and steamed broccoli. Yummm! Yes, there will be butter on the potatoes (I like my broccoli plain, thank you, but others in the family will add butter to their broccoli.) Or I may use EVOO and some Bragg's liquid aminos...I like that combination and it is healthier than butter.

And for dessert we have fresh strawberries...maybe the last of the year. :-(

What are you having to eat? Are you making a healthy choice today? Why or why judgment, just want you to think about it and make the choice on a conscious level. There is nothing inherently wrong with making some unhealthy choices--as long as you recognize what you are doing and are in control.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weight Loss Affirmations: Cravings

I use affirmations for many aspects of my weight loss success and general health, including helping me to deal with cravings. If you find you are craving foods that maybe aren’t the best, most healthy, choices then try using these weight loss affirmations to help keep YOU in control.

My body craves foods that nourish it.

This is a reminder that our body does know what it needs and that we can listen to it. Our bodies truly will guide us to make healthy choices when we learn to stop and listen and distinguish between what our bodies want and what our emotions are driving us to eat.

I eat foods that nourish my body and my mind.

While not specifically addressing cravings, this affirmation programs our mind about the types of foods we are intending to consume.

The foods I eat nourish my body and my mind.

On the surface this may seem to be saying the same thing as the previous affirmation, but the subtle difference speaks to the intention behind the affirmation. Notice the subject in the earlier affirmation is “I”…so the affirmation is about what I am doing. The subject in this affirmation is “The foods.”

The earlier statement empowers US to eat (only? Mostly?) nourishing foods. The latter affirmation gives the food we eat nourishing power.

Choose affirmations that feel good to you (even if they are a bit awkward to say at first) and that give the message you really want to internalize. Sometimes we have to sit with the affirmation and say it aloud a few times to really hear the difference.

No matter how the affirmations start, be willing to let them evolve over time. What feels right now, may not be what you need in a few months—or even a few minutes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Caregivers Gaining Weight

I was at a meeting for caregivers the other day and several of the women there mentioned that they were upset at themselves for the extra 15 pounds they are carrying.

We are all caring for ailing parents which is a challenge and is emotionally taxing.

Of course it is important that we take care of ourselves and our own health--for us, our families and the loved ones we are caring for. It won't help any of us if we, the caregiver, end up sick and needing to receive care!

Naturally then it is important that we have healthy habits if we want to have a healthy life. What is not important is how many pounds we weigh or what size we are.

I found that many of us are carrying excessive weight because of emotional eating--using food for reasons other than the fuel we need. Certainly food can (and arguably should) play a roll in our celebrations and social events, but we need to learn to feel our feelings and express them rather than stuffing them down with a side of extra large fries or a pint of ice cream (my personal favorite.)

This is especially true when we are in stressful, emotionally charged situations. We don't want to gain additional weight...and if we have put on some extra padding we want to halt that trend.

Becoming aware of what we are doing and beginning to eat consciously is a start.

By recognizing that we are reaching for food instead of allowing the tears to flow we give ourselves the opportunity to choose. And we must make that choice daily, in fact, we must make that choice multiple times each and every day.

This is a time for us to be gentle on ourselves. We are human and if we are emotional eaters, by golly we are probably going to overeat at times like these. But we deserve to recognize what is going on and stop beating ourselves up over it!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Focusing on Gratitude Today and Always

I know I have been away from Refuse to Diet a lot...things have been quite busy here in Loveland. And I have so much to be grateful for. Since tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of 9-11 it seems appropriate to really express my gratitude for all the many blessings in my life. If you are a regular reader of mine, then you know that I believe what we focus on we will get more let's focus on our many blessings rather than our short-comings.

I am grateful for the health in my body and my mind.
I am grateful for my loving family.
I am grateful for the peace in my heart, in my body and in my land.
I am grateful for the abundant fresh and healthy food I have at hand.
I am grateful for all the wonderful people who have helped me to have this fantastic life.

I am also grateful to have been a co-author of the original
The Gratitude Book Project® and as a way for us to express our gratitude to so many others, we have teamed up and written a new eBook that we are giving away as a token of our love, gratitude and appreciation. This book is timed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9-11 and it is filled with stories of heroes, from 9-11 (including my own mother) and from countless other events of less infamy but no less importance.

Please watch this poignant video by one of my co-authors and then click the link below to claim your complimentary copy of The Gratitude Book Project: A Celebration of Personal Heroes

Thanks Mom, and all the other heroes out there.

Get your copy of this eBook today, and please share it with your heroes.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I've had a few friends of Refuse to Diet wonder where I have been of late, so I want to apologize for my absence. I have family matters that are requiring a lot of my attention at the moment and I just don't have much "free time" to spend writing about weight loss success at the moment.

I love you all and hope your journey is going well and I hope things settle down here soon and I can rejoin the community.

In the meantime--think healthy thoughts, make small changes, and be gentle on yourselves!

To your healthy, energetic, slender body--you deserve it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weight Loss Success Comes from Small Changes Not Massive Overhaul

When we want to drop pounds we often think we have to make massive changes in our lives.

That thought alone is often enough to keep us stuck. We don't want to have to make these big, radical adjustments. Change can be scary and truth be is hard to do.

It isn't will power, either. We are genetically programmed to follow routine. Oh there are some people who roll with change better than others. And there are areas that we may be okay with change and upheaval and other areas where the thought of change induces stress. And for most of us with weight loss challenges, changing our food and exercise routines seems like it is changing our entire lives. After all the time, energy and focus of our lives often revolves around food--the choosing, buying, preparing, cleaning up after on top of the eating of it.

To have weight loss success we do not have to make huge adjustments. In fact success is guaranteed if you focus on making small, small, small (did I say small?) changes that you can absolutely stick to.

How many times have you promised to "be good" and stick to this or that diet? And how many times did it work for a while, maybe a day or couple of days or even weeks...only to come crashing down on you because you just couldn't keep it up? That's what I thought.

That's because you tried to make too big a change. I know. I've done it too. Often.

That's why I finally declared I Refuse To Diet!!! And that made the difference.

Sure I've made changes in my eating, I make healthier choices more consistently. But I'm not perfect--and I don't have to be! And I didn't start off with radical shifts. I started off with a very small, laughably small change that I new would be simple to keep. In fact, it was so easy that part of me thought it wasn't worthy and it would take forever to lose the excess pounds! But I knew I had tried the other methods in the past and while I might have had short-term success it all came rebounding back like I had a homing beacon glued to my thighs.

So I started small. And it worked! So I added another small change. And so, and so on. In the process I have rebuilt my health; I lost almost 100 pounds in a single year; I can do more and more every day.

The irony was that when I thought 1-2 pounds a week was too slow and I had to find a faster way to lose weight, I stayed stuck as a morbidly obese person. Once I took the focus off the weight loss and instead focused on healthy choices (and deciding that I deserved a healthy body) the weight started to drop off.

Now when I hit a point where I am struggling, I go back to the basics. Where is my attitude and what small change can I make that I can stick to?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Measuring Weight Loss Success

I know I've said this before, but it is important to repeat because it really goes against what so many people think/believe about achieving weight loss success.

Do not measure your weight loss success by the number on the scale!

At least, not entirely.

I know how gratifying it can be to see the number on the scale drop when our goal is to lose weight. I also know how frustrating it can be to have the number hover, drop just a little, or even go up when we are doing "everything right," making healthy choices about eating, exercise and working on our mindset.

Truth is, sometimes you are redistributing your weight. So the scale won't show any difference or not enough difference in the "right" direction.

This is why we have to change our mindset about losing weight successfully--it is not just about dropping pounds. Our mindset must shift to one of gaining health.

My friend Cathy was telling me how frustrated she was. She looked in the mirror and couldn't see any improvement. (2 issues there, but that's a different story.) And she was working out and making healthy food choices and she "only" lost 1 pound in the last week.

Of course I could lecture forever about 1 pound is a very healthy weight loss rate in a week (isn't that what the experts tell us) but when we want to drop weight it just doesn't feel satisfactory at all.

What Cathy did next though was a great way to shift her mindset. She decided to try on clothes that she couldn't get on last month.

Guess what? They fit! Even though she hadn't lost a lot of pounds, her efforts ARE paying off. Not only is she actually getting smaller, she is much more fit than she was a month ago.

Objective measures of weight loss are tools...but we must use several different tools because any one by itself does not reveal the entire picture.

Keep taking the steps to achieve health and your weight loss success is guaranteed!
  1. Love & accept yourself where you are right now
  2. Shift your mindset about weight loss
  3. Eat consciously
  4. Get up and move every day
To the healthy, energetic, slender bodies we deserve!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stress: Weight Loss Challenge #1

The biggest weight loss challenge in my books is stress.

Why stress?

Stress leads to
  • Unconscious eating
  • Emotional eating
  • Holding onto weight
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling out of control
  • Physical illness
Many of these things are intertwined so you may feel fatigue and overeat to help give your body energy, or you may feel overwhelmed and eat to calm your emotions.

Not all stress is "negative" or "bad." We cannot live a completely stress-free life. Some very happy events can be quite stressful--but that doesn't mean we want to forgo the experience.

Examples of "happy", "positive" or "good" stress:
  • Weddings (or yourself, your child or a good friend)
  • Birth of a child
  • Starting a new job
  • Going on an exciting trip
  • Returning to school

There are of course many other types of positive stress, but you get the idea. These events are some of the things that make life sweet, so we don't want to avoid them.

But as sweet as the events are, sometimes we react to the stress in an unhealthy way--like overeating.

So stress itself is not actually bad for is the way we choose to react to that stress. This is part of the challenge of shifting our mindset for weight loss.

The trick then is to react to stress in a healthy way--whether the stress is a "positive" or "negative" event.

I have been reminded over and over again in my own life that I have a deep pattern (aka "a rut") that I have carved out over the years of turning to food when I feel stressed. Even today I hear the voice in my head say, "ice cream--you can have it, you'll feel better."

The truth is while I am eating the ice cream I may temporarily divert my attention from the stressful event if I allow myself to focus entirely on the ice cream. This is super conscious eating...knowing that it is a temporary diversion and choosing to enjoy the ice cream.

OK, that can work, but...
  1. if I grab the ice cream and am thinking about the stressful event or just stuffing the food down my throat without enjoying it then I am not reducing my stress
  2. if I beat myself up afterwards, then I am just adding to my stress, so it backfires.
  3. if I get upset later that I'm not successfully losing weight (presuming that is my goal) then I have not really done myself a service.
  4. the stressor is still there and now I have just added to my habit of eating for emotional reasons which doesn't serve me in the long-run either
On the other hand if I want to temporarily divert my attention from the stressful situation by playing with the dog, driving in the country and enjoying the scenery, playing a game on the computer, walking around the block, meditating, listening to music or any number of other things, I have achieved the diversion without adding sugar/calories/poor food choices to my day and I have taken a step at digging myself out of my unhealthy rut.

Since stress--all by itself--can cause us to hold onto our body fat (look, I can't explain why this is...but it is probably some survival of the fittest thing...I just know from personal experience it happens) we deserve to then minimize our unhealthy choices when we are under stress.

By making unhealthy eating choices--that can be over eating and also restrictive dieting--we add more stress to our bodies.

Making healthy choices and eating well-balanced foods that fuel our bodies and our brains and moving our bodies to keep all the blood and oxygen flowing we reduce our stress.

And by meditating we also reduce our stress. Meditations can be formal, focus on your breathing types of things or they can be walking and focusing on the surroundings. Meditation is simply quieting the mind chatter.

Try a variety of things to reduce your mind chatter and make healthy choices about food and moving your body and you will reduce the negative effects of stress on your body. The result will be greater weight loss success and overall health and wellness.

If you'd like to try meditation but are not sure where to start, take a look at some of these resources as a starting place.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weight Loss Success Foods That Boost Your Spirits

In your effort to have weight loss success have you gone on a diet, only to feel like one of the Dwarves…maybe Dopey, but definitely a little Grumpy?

You are not alone!

Between feeling deprived and actually BEING deprived of certain nutrients, it is common that we get grumpy, or sad, or a myriad of other emotions.

Can anything be done about it?

Of course! Refusing to diet is part of the solution—because going on a diet we will feel deprived. Maybe not the first couple days or maybe even weeks, but at some point we just are feeling like we are getting the foods we want.

But declaring “I refuse to diet” does not mean that we don’t want to lose weight successfully. It just means that we make smart choices about our food intake and moving our bodies. These choices include honoring our feelings and getting the nutritional support needed to help keep our emotions balanced.

Foods to Choose to Improve your Mood:

Healthy Fats: especially the Omega 3 fatty-acids which include things like flaxseed; fish: salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna; nuts, especially walnuts. These fats also help our body lose weight and help us to feel more satisfied, so be sure to include some healthy fat in your menu plan.

Vitamin B6 and C: These two are both critical for our bodies to produce serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. B6 is found in a variety of foods like red bell peppers (a personal favorite), spinach and nuts. Vitamin C of course is found in citrus but also in cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli and those red bell peppers I love!

Vitamin B12: B12 is believed to combat both fatigue and depression. B12 is only found in animal products. You can get ample B12 by eating low fat dairy products but if you are vegan you will definitely need to take a supplement.

Vitamin D: depression is often a symptom of not enough Vitamin D. Most of us can get enough by getting out in the sun about 20 minutes (more or less depending on your coloring) a day without sunscreen.

Carbohydrates: carbs have gotten a bad rap in the weight loss world, many people think we need to cut them out completely, but if we do that we lose out on a lot of really good nutrition. And carbs really are the fastest way to fuel your brain and create serotonin. The problem is we generally grab SIMPLE carbs which just cause a rapid spike in our blood sugar which is followed by a big crash. We just can’t successfully lose weight if we are on that simple carb blood sugar roller coaster. Instead choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains.

Weight Loss Tip: to get the benefit of the carb and keep it working for you longer, always eat a small amount of protein with your carbs. My friend Dr. Linda has told me even a few almonds will do the trick!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weight Loss Tip for Emotional Eaters

One of the biggest challenges we face as emotional eaters is developing new skills, tactics and strategies to handle our emotions rather than eating.

Stuffing our feelings down with a side of our favorite food is a habit that we have to break in order to have permanent weight loss success. Not an easy thing to do.

We may backslide from time to time...even after a long period of success. This does not mean that we as human beings are failures, just that we are human!

Weight Loss Tip: write down several options that you have for dealing with emotions and keep that list handy--we must learn to express our emotions, to get them out...and to learn that it is safe to do so!

What should be on the list?

The specifics of your list must be up to you. No one else can tell you what to write on your list, because no one else knows how you feel and what will help you. There are no "shoulds," as in specific things that belong on the list or do not belong on the list.

That being said I have a couple general rules or guidelines that I suggest you follow for the permanent mindset shift that you need for weight loss:

  1. Avoid having food items on the list--not even healthy substitutions. This doesn't do anything to break the habit of eating to deal with emotions. It doesn't retrain our brain or our bodies if we grab a low-calorie something (including carrot sticks!) instead of a pint of ice cream.
  2. Vary the time required: sometimes you might only have (and need) a 10 second diversion. Other times you might need a minute, or 5, or 10 or 30...sometimes a quick attention snap is all we need (and all the time we have!) to make a conscious choice rather than grabbing something to eat without thinking. At other times we can, need to and deserve to take a longer, slower approach to the emotional issue at hand.
  3. Give yourself options. Even when coming up with things to do in different time frames, try to come up with at least 2 different things. Not all activities are suitable for the office, for example, and not all activities will feel right at the given time.
  4. Mix up the solution type. Don't have everything on your list be physical--there will be times where you are not up for a physical solution. On the other hand, don't merely list things that involve talking or are only solitary. By increasing the variety of solutions you increase your chances for success!
  5. Gather your tools. This is basically the Boy Scout motto of Be Prepared. If your list includes going for a walk then you need to have walking shoes available otherwise you will be creating an excuse why you can't do the substitute activity and be more apt to just eat...even if you don't consciously go through the thought process. If you need a timer, a picture that helps calm you, music, whatever it is you need...have various tools with you at work and at home and in your car so you can tap into the strength of your list!
Some Suggestions for Your List (borrow any that feel good, disregard the rest!)

10 second solutions: count to 10; primal scream (either silent or vocalized); squeeze a stress ball; scrunch up your face & stick out your tongue

One minute wonders: close your eyes & take 5 or 6 deep belly breaths; shadow boxing; dance; get up & slam a door or throw a pillow; laugh; pet the dog/cat; think about someone you love; visualize the person who is stressing you as a little child; throw a tantrum (not a real one--but get your body involved in expressing your anger/fear/hurt)

Longer remedies: go outdoors & throw rocks as hard/far as you can; go for a walk around the block/building; meditate (5 min/15 min or longer); listen to your favorite album; engage in a hobby; work on a puzzle; lift weights; dance; laugh; sing; get out in nature; play with your kids/pet

Keep it Handy

Now that you have your list of things you can do instead of eating when your emotions are hitting hard post it on your refrigerator and/or pantry...wherever your comfort food resides.

Keep a copy in your wallet or purse.

Have a copy at your desk at work so if you are tempted to hit the snack machine you see it first.

Make a copy for your car so you see it whenever you are tempted by the drive through or you are going grocery shopping.

Sometimes you don't even need to review the list--especially after you have been at this for a while--just seeing the piece of paper and knowing what is on it may be enough to help you make the shift you need to avoid emotional eating.

Last, but not Least: REFER TO THE LIST
Just writing it down may feel good at the time, but it won't have a lasting effect. To have permanent weight loss success we have to make changes in our behavior...and this is a way to make some small yet very powerful changes that WILL result in a healthier you--if you use it.

This is just a tool...and tools don't do the job by themselves, they rely on the user to pick them up and put them to work!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Double Up for Weight Loss Success

In my last post I talked about the importance of eating vegetables and not hiding them for long-term weight loss success.

Most Americans just don't get their quota of veggies--by a long shot!

How low is our intake of vegetables (if you don't count potatoes*)
...the average American gets a total of just three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The latest dietary guidelines call for five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day (2½ to 6½ cups per day), depending on one's caloric intake. (1) For a person who needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight and health, this translates into nine servings, or 4½ cups per day (2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables).
~ source: Harvard School of Public Health

So what is a cup of vegetables? For many vegetables a "cup" is the same as a 1 cup measurement, but for leafy vegetables like lettuce if you are eating them raw then a cup serving should really be 2 measured cups to account for all the space created by the leafy vegetables.

  • Having trouble getting in enough vegetables?
  • Tired of eating like a rabbit?

Here's a weight loss tip for you:

Rather than forcing yourself to eat mondo salads each and every day, get more vegetables in your meals by doubling up the quantity your recipes call for!

Most of our recipes rely too heavily on meat and potatoes, with light attention to our vegetables. If you are making a stew for example you can stretch out the servings by bumping up the veggie content. Start by doubling the vegetables and then adjust from there. I find many recipes I can triple the vegetable content and be quite happy!

This will helping your weight loss success and let your dollars stretch further, too!

*Don't count potatoes as a vegetable. While potatoes have some great nutritional and fiber value, they are much higher in sugar content. Use potatoes as you would rice or pasta or bread--sparingly--to keep your blood sugar and waist line under control.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Don't Hide the Veggies

Vegetables are a challenge for many people working to achieve weight loss success. Maybe they don't like them. Maybe they never learned to cook them. Maybe they think vegetables come in a can or a plastic bag. Maybe they believe vegetables means carrot sticks.

I can see why vegetables would be unappealing!

To combat this, many "experts" advocate hiding the vegetables and sneaking them into our meals, and thereby our bodies, undetected. Often they do this by pureeing the vegetable and adding that puree to other foods.

This can be a useful tactic for getting some extra veggies into our bodies, sure. But it is not a long-term solution--and certainly not the way to handle the majority of our vegetable intake.

Veggies 101: Vegetables fall into the carbohydrate class of food. When people hear that they often thing that if they want to go on a low carb diet they should cut back on carbs, but that's just not right! Most veggies are the best kind of carbs and should be increased in our diet--especially if we want weight loss success!

Veggies have a variety of vitamins that our bodies need. Because they are a complex carb they provide our bodies with fuel that when broken down is a much more stable and long lasting fuel than simple carbs like sugar, breads or pasta.

Veggies also require that we chew. This is good for our teeth and all the muscles in our face. Chewing also stimulates all the juices we need to properly digest our food...going liquid can't do that for us.

Veggies provide fiber--an essential ingredient that aids in keeping our insides clean, and helps us feel full.

Pureeing vegetables breaks down some of that fiber and so we lose one of the key benefits that veggies provide.

What we also lose is the opportunity to retrain our thinking about vegetables. If we consistently hide and disguise them we will never acquire a taste for vegetables. Instead we will reinforce the idea that they are "yucky."

Instead of hiding veggies, have them out in plain sight! One of the good things about veggies is that most of them cook pretty even if you are running late you can chop up a few and cook them as a first course or even have them raw as an appetizer.

That doesn't mean that you want to have a big ol' bowl of broccoli on the table at every meal. Heck, I LIKE broccoli and would get bored by that. Mix it up. Experiment with different vegetables, different spices and how you prepare them. Try steaming, grilling, broiling, stir fry...they are all delicious and quick ways to prepare many vegetables. Just remember to keep them "al dente"...they should have a little crunch left in them or you will lose all the vital nutrients.

When you have small amounts of vegetables left over, either cooked or raw, experiment some more and add them to eggs in the morning for a healthy scramble, or to soup or on top of a salad. Those are simple and easy ways to get more veggies into your daily routine.

Stay tuned for the next post for ways to get more veggies into your diet...if you are counting calories then keep in mind that many vegetables while filled with nutrients are so low in calories you can eat as much as you want!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Avoiding Emotional Eating Doesn't Mean Avoiding Treats

Many people believe that to have weight loss success we must forgo all treats. I disagree with this tactic of creating a list of foods that are off-limits. In my experience, it just doesn't work.

Some people respond to my assertion that to have permanent success we must have no forbidden foods that if certain foods are not taboo then it is okay to eat them all the time.

Of course we must eat foods that nourish our bodies...that is the primary purpose of food after all. But the truth is, most of us with weight challenges did not get to be significantly overweight because of eating to nourish our bodies!

We use food for much more than fuel for our bodies. We use food for pleasure and social reasons as well as using food for emotional reasons.

It is crucial for us to distinguish between these 3 types of eating.

Social eating is when food is part of another experience, such as Thanksgiving, birthdays, or enjoying a night out with friends. Social eating may be eating something because it is expected like birthday cake, and it may include overindulging to the extreme--like when we have to unzip our pants or take a nap after Thanksgiving's feast. With social eating, we may not actually be conscious of just how much food we are consuming, because we are more focused on the social aspect.

Pleasure eating may also have a social element to it, the key difference is that when we eat for pleasure, the focus is on the food. It may be sharing the food, sharing the experience, but the food is still in the forefront. For example, you may be having dinner with a friend (or friends) and decide you want to have dessert...and you are sharing the dessert because you want the flavor, but not the full enjoy each bite as it fills your mouth with flavor. You may eat more than you "need" (let's face it, our bodies don't "need" dessert) but because it is savored and the focus is on tasting and feeling good, you rarely will get to the button-popping stage when eating for pleasure.

Emotional eating on the other hand (can you have an "other hand" with 3 examples?) can be unconscious, like social eating, or very conscious, but rarely is it pleasurable. It may start with a thought of how good something tastes, but more often it starts as a pull...a knee-jerk reaction to a thought, feeling or event. Sometimes we are not even aware of the preceding element! We may be sad or angry, or even happy, and we are reaching for food to soothe us, to bring us to a more mellow place. And if we continue this pattern then we will need more and more food to achieve that mellow place--largely because it doesn't solve the problem, it just masks the pain temporarily.

When we go on a diet, we are not dealing with our emotional eating...and we put our favorite foods on a forbidden foods list. This sets us up for a huge negative cycle of deprivation then binge, then guilt. Now we have even more emotions to run from so we eat more, not less! This is why diets do not work.

The secret to weight loss success is to be conscious about our eating and to enjoy our treats--to have some pleasure eating events. This gives our inner child the opportunity to have treats and not feel deprived, while breaking the habits of grabbing food to soothe our inner beast.

Here's how it went in practice for me this weekend: I was feeling quite emotional, for lots of different reasons, some hormonal and some stress related, and so I was craving carbs can specifically chocolate. I had to go to the grocery store and I knew that with all these cravings it could be a dangerous run, so before I went I made sure I had a snack before hand to keep things at bay. Even still, lots of old thoughts went through my head as I entered the parking lot and walked through the store...I can buy these cookies and eat them in the car, or I can buy this and eat some and hide the rest, or...on and on. I know that whenever those sorts of thoughts of eating massive quantities of food and/or eating and hiding the evidence comes up that is a flag that the desire to eat is strictly emotional.

I was able to remind myself that I want and desire a healthy body and that eating in that way would not solve whatever was going on, and that I would address the issue when I got home. That is a big victory--being conscious about my choices--but it is just the first step.

Once home I tried to determine what was bothering me. I talked about it, I meditated on it, I cried, I tried working through it and ignoring it (this rarely works, but I still try!) I just didn't seem to be helping. I ate healthy foods and made sure my blood sugar was even, which helped, but still I had a HUGE desire to eat. I slept on it, I worked more. I finally felt the urge to turn on some music and cook a big healthy meal, play and dance to the music. So I left my desk and did just that and when I was done I finally felt at peace with myself and the desire to stuff my face was gone!

Big lesson--we can't also push through, sometimes we have to listen to our heart and let it direct us to what will help us feel better...and we have to let that voice come through, which takes love, gentleness, and practice.

Later (much later) I wanted a little something sweet...I didn't have anything in the house that sounded right (I actually had ice cream in the house but that wasn't sounding right) so I made a dark chocolate sauce and we dipped strawberries in the sauce. We had a small portion and really, really, really enjoyed the tastes and sharing the experience.

Because this eating was pleasure eating it wasn't "necessary" for my body, but it felt great for my soul and so I don't feel the need to beat myself up over it. In fact, I celebrate it as a success--a sign of true weight loss success--the ability to enjoy a small portion of delicious food, because food can and should be a source of pleasure for us.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who You Calling a Fool About Weight Loss Success

Got an interesting comment on my post "Carbs Cause Obesity?" which was in response to a comment from a reader...since the first comment was anonymous and the 2nd was not, and given the difference in the tone in the two comments leads me to presume that they were from 2 different readers.

In this post, the reader, signed "Donnelly" questions the validity of mindset in weight loss success. While I think Donnelly could have been more polite in questioning my position, and it is quite obvious that s/he hasn't really read much of my blog by the statements, I wanted to respond because there is a very common misconception about losing weight and mindset out there. So here goes an explanation in brief...

Sure, what we put into our bodies and how much we move our bodies has an effect on our physical condition, including weight. However, it isn't simply math...different types of foods are used by our bodies in different ways so it is important that we eat a variety of healthy foods to fuel our brains, our muscles and the rest of our bodies.

Many of us know what we are supposed to eat...we know that eating too much saturated fat isn't great for our heart or our hips...we know that we should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables...we also know that we must get up and move our bodies if we want to be healthy...and yet we don't do it...and sometimes when we DO eat properly and move our bodies we STILL don't successfully lose weight. Why is that?

This is where mindset comes in. And contrary to what Donnelly thinks, this is not me "parroting back the propagandized misinformation that big Agra has indoctrinated you with"--this is my personal experience, having spent most of my life on a diet and not successfully losing weight, feeling bad about my body and myself, feeling like I was a personal failure because I wasn't a size 2 or 6 or 10...

I have found (and have written about in my book) that we will actually retain fat, even if we are doing things "right" if our mindset is such that we believe we are fat, believe we don't deserve to be healthy. On top of that, with this mindset we will find it harder to stick to our healthy choices; we will sabotage our own efforts. Our minds are incredibly powerful and they will do whatever necessary to prove the beliefs we hold strongest are true.

That is why diets don't work...they are short term solutions that address symptoms rather than taking on the REAL issue.

If you don't know that it is healthier to choose an apple over an ice cream cone, then it is important to educate yourself. But if you have struggled for years with your weight even though you know some nutritional basics (you don't have to be an expert, by the way!) then I believe there is an underlying EMOTIONAL component that you need to address.

On top of all this, we are hit with messages about how hard it is to lose weight, especially if you are over 40. We're told on a daily basis that we MUST be thin and at the same time that it is next to impossible to get there! That's just not right--and it isn't true, either!

We must look at what we are currently eating and WHY, and first work on changing our mindset not slashing calories or carbs or fat grams or slaving at the gym. If we don't change the FEELINGS behind the eating and understand why we want to lose weight then we will not keep it off, but we will be doomed to a roller coaster of dieting the rest of our lives until we finally give up.

I know how hard it is to change...but if we focus on changing our mindset about weight loss and learn to believe WE CAN LOSE WEIGHT no matter our past experience, our age, our genetics. I teach about this and know that by making SMALL changes we will get permanent results...but it starts with what you are putting in your MIND not your mouth!

Don't let people like Donnelly bully you into believing that you are a failure or a fool. We are not talking about "mindset alone"...but the truth is that mindset alone will get you a lot further on your weight loss journey to permanent results than any diet.

And if you don't believe that Donnelly, look up placebo effect and you will learn just how powerful the mind can be.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Carbs Cause Obesity?

I got a comment, from a reader who wished to remain anonymous, in response to my post about a Vegan Lifstyle The reader claimed
"Excessive carbs, in the form of grains and/or legumes, are the cause, and not the cure, for obesity."

Sorry, but this is not accurate.

Of course eating too much food of any kind, even healthy foods like whole grains and legumes can cause us to be overweight. So can eating too much meat or even fruits and vegetables. However, eating complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains and legumes) does not cause obesity and they are an important part of a food plan that is geared for our optimum health and energy. Carbs have gotten a bad rap. They are an important source of fuel for our bodies and our brain.

Obesity is generally caused from excessive SIMPLE carbs, like found in white flour, sugar, processed foods.

Is it possible to become obese eating only healthy foods...sure...but you have to work at it because the healthier foods have fiber and bulk which makes you feel more full! If you stuffed yourself every day like it was Thanksgiving and sat around all day without moving your body, even if you only ate wonderfully healthy foods you would definitely have a weight issue.

Being healthy isn't about eliminating foods, it is about gaining control over your eating which is largely a mindset issue. It is also about getting our brain chemistry and hormones in balance, which when we make healthy food choices naturally follows.

I don't advocate saying you can NEVER have sugar, but by controlling our sugar intake (along with that of other simple carbs) and making conscious choices in our eating, we will actually reduce our cravings for these foods that taste good but have little or no nutritional value.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Grocery Store Tips for Weight Loss Success

The grocery store can be our best friend for weight loss success and it can also be our biggest weight loss challenge, providing us with healthy food at reasonable prices.

Here are 3 of my top simple tips to help the grocery store lean in the BFF direction rather than foe!

1. Don't go to the store hungry.

I know, I know, you've heard it a gazillion times already. Well, you've heard it a gazillion times because it is true! When we are hungry we are more apt to grab a "quick something" and that generally is not an apple! Nope, we're apt to grab a candy bar or bag of chips while standing in the checkout line. And that's on top of the other stuff that wasn't on your list that found its way into your cart because...yep, you're hungry. When we are hungry our resistance is down and EVERYTHING sounds good! By eating a healthy snack before we go shopping we help control our cravings and are much more able to make healthy, conscious food choices that support our goals.

2. Make a list and buy what is on the list.
OK, this could have been 2 separate tips but really, what good is a list if you don't use it? So make a list, bring it to the store with you (how many times have I left my list on the counter and then wracked my menopausal brain trying to remember what was on it?) and then buy off the list! I'm not militant about least not entirely...if you see something that you forgot to add to the list, fine. Something's on sale for a super price that is healthy that you KNOW you will eat, okay. Sounds/looks/smells good--no way! So if you really want to have cookies or ice cream, then they have to be on the list. Sometimes writing it down is enough to convince yourself you don't really want it! Making yourself shop with a list also stops the "I'll just pop in for a few things on the way home" shopping...that's when a lot of high-fat/sugar/salt items make it into the cart (on their own without any help from me, I swear!)

3. Pay with Cash
According to the Journal of Consumer Research if you buy your groceries with cash your cart will tend to hold less junk food! If you want the immediate gratification of junk food then decide you must have the immediate cash to pay for it, otherwise your delayed payment will come due and you will have the extra weight on the hips, too. Take this one step further and roughly calculate how much money you will need for your groceries and bring only that amount of cash. Then when you are tempted to add that box of cookies and you are faced with having to return either your milk or the cookies you just might decide to keep the milk!

You'll notice these 3 tips all help us to make conscious choices. We always have a choice about the food we eat--what we put into our body and how much of it. By following these tips we help ourselves to make the small changes in food buying that will result in big changes in our health, including our waistline. As an added benefit we'll save money, too!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day Gifts: Sweet or Sour

Since Valentines Day is about love we tend to shower our loved ones with sweet gifts--often literally filled with sugar and other things that maybe aren't in our best interests. So a sweet gift can easily turn sour--if it is received in the wrong way.

I'm not one to say you can't have sugar ever...and I for one have no intention of giving up chocolate entirely. In fact, I don't believe in having a list of "forbidden foods" because I know how that just makes us psychologically just want it even more.

However, buying sweets simply because it is Valentines Day is less about a conscious, love-filled gift and more about a marketing ploy.

What does Valentines Day really mean to you? Is it about feeling loved by a significant other or by family members? Will you feel loved if you receive a card? a phone call? a nice dinner out? a box of chocolates? a dozen roses? a diamond necklace?

Let your loved one know how you will feel special on this special day--and other ones, too. Unless you let people know what YOU want then you will be subject to what they THINK you want...and those thoughts are generally influenced by marketing efforts from companies who are selling things that they want you to believe will make you happy.

Don't expect people to be able to read your mind--as much as they love you and no matter how long they have been in your life. If you are trying to lose weight and having chocolates around will make it harder for you to make healthy choices so you'd rather not have them in the house--let your voice be heard. On the other hand, if NOT receiving chocolates will make you feel deprived then your loved ones deserve to know that, too!

This is about asking for the kind of support that works for YOU, because each of us operates just a little bit differently based on our biology and more importantly based on our upbringing--all the messages we got growing up.

It can be hard for others to know what we want when we have declared we are intending to lose weight. Will they be accused of trying to sabotage our efforts if they buy us candy? Will they be accused not loving us if they do?

Instead of leaving them guessing and risking buying us a gift that was intending to be loving but leaves us with a sour feeling, figure out what you would like and ask for what you want. This is an excellent exercising for us to express our desires. It is something that most of us are not really good at. Sometimes we aren't good at asking for it because we don't think we are worth it...we are so good at putting others first that it is hard for us to accept that we can be first. Sometimes it is hard for us to ask because we've bought into the idea that "they should just know what I want" even though that is often a moving target! We might not even be aware of what we want--so how the heck can we expect someone else to figure it out???

If you really love chocolate but know that more than one piece sets you off on a binge...then maybe you request a piece of really, really special chocolate from a fancy store rather than a box of ho-hum chocolates from Wal-green's. For me, a really good piece of chocolate allows me to savor it and appreciate it and make a conscious choice about eating it, whereas a big box of chocolate tends to send off physical and mental cravings and before I know it I have eaten way more than I intended.

Or if you aren't a chocoholic like me and can keep it in the house, then be sure to specify what you like so that when you do choose to indulge you get the absolute best satisfaction. In other words, if you love the dark chocolate caramels then you don't want a box filled with milk chocolate creams! You might eat them, but you won't have that same satisfaction, so eat what you really love. You'll actually end up consuming less!

If you don't want chocolates around then think of other gifts that you'd prefer. They don't have to be expensive gifts like jewelry or short-lived ones like flowers (although those are nice, too!) Sometimes the best gifts are inexpensive like a homemade card or a poem. Always the sweetest gifts are the ones that are thought-full: a great book for a reader, a journal for a writer, a photo in a nice frame for the desk at work, a compilation of favorite songs for your ipod for relaxation or working out to...or having the car cleaned, serviced and tires rotated for the busy commuter!

The bottom line is we must learn to love ourselves enough to know that we deserve our health and happiness--and gifts that we really want. So we must love ourselves enough to learn to express our needs.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weight Loss Challenge: Sugar and How Sweet it Is

There are lots of different sweeteners on the market today. In fact, there are so many it can be quite confusing. What is natural? If it is organic is that the best? What type of sugar is better?

Sometimes it feels so overwhelming that we just throw up our hands and stick with plain old sugar even though we know it isn't the best for us.

It is important that we know some facts about our options so we can choose the best thing for us. If you are diabetic for example you will want sweeteners that don't raise your blood sugar level, but maybe you don't want to use the artificial what's the best choice for you. What if you want to become more natural--going for less processed foods? Or maybe you were inspired by Oprah to go vegan...

I found a great article on various sweeteners that you should keep in your arsenal. Chef Heather Haxo Phillips tells it like it is--even explaining why you might not want to choose some of the more popular, theoretically "healthy" sweeteners like Agave Nectar.

Chef Heather is of the Bay Area phenomenon Cafe Gratitude and she explains what sugar is and gives lots of details about your options in this article.

What is Sugar? Sugar is a pure carbohydrate, a nutrient that supplies energy to the body. The chemical name for sugar is sucrose. Sucrose occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable, as it is the major product of photosynthesis. For a long time, fruit and cane sugars were the most common sweeteners on our table. However, over the past 50 years dozens of sweeteners have been developed. Many of them are very useful for helping us to enjoy the sweet things in life without taking our blood sugar for a roller coaster ride.

Read the entire article here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oprah Badgers Weight Loss Inspiration Jennifer Hudson

Although when speaking to Jennifer Hudson about her weight loss success Oprah claimed she didn't want her to reveal anything she wasn't comfortable with, the legendary interviewer persisted to badger the celebrity to reveal the precised number of pounds she has lost on her recent weight loss journey.

Clearly torn between her own wish not to talk about pounds and her desire to respond to and please Oprah, Jennifer caved --to a standing ovation from the studio audience.

Jennifer Hudson is indeed a weight loss inspiration. She looks great and says she feels like she is better than she ever has been in her life. So why did Oprah have to know how many pounds Jennifer has lost? Because Oprah still clings to the idea that a number indicates success or failure when it comes to measuring weight loss success. This is surprising coming from a woman who comes from "spirit" and defies common success measures in so many other aspects of her life.

Would the singer's weight loss be any less inspiring if she'd "only" lost 60 pounds? Would it have been more amazing if she'd lost 100 pounds? Not to me. Oprah mentioned that she couldn't relate to the Jennifer being a size 6 and neither could most people. I can't relate to a size 6 either, but I find the logic faulty. I wish Jennifer had stuck to her guns and not revealed numbers--either pounds or dress sizes.

Announcing these numbers automatically starts us calculating and comparing--which I believe Jennifer and her Weight Watchers coach were trying to avoid. It isn't about whether you have 20 pounds to lose or 200. It is about how you feel about yourself. We can all see the phenomenal results that Jennifer has achieved on this journey--and the difference in her attitude and appearance should be enough to inspire us no matter how many pounds she has lost.

Telling the world the number of pounds we've lost is less about an internal celebration and satisfaction and more about external recognition. We all deserve to feel good about our accomplishments--whether or not others congratulate us with words, pats on the back or standing ovations on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Of course it can be encouraging for people to hear about pounds lost. And it feels great to have other people congratulate us on our success. But I believe completely that if we are to have permanent weight loss success then we must lose the weight for ourselves and take satisfaction in our own results. I also believe that our best "advertisement" about our weight loss is our own image--in person and in the form of before and after pictures--and that this is also the best inspiration we can give to others. Happy, smiling faces and energetic bodies show the benefit of losing weight, whereas pounds loss are just numbers.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vegan Equals Healthy Weight Loss Success?

With movies like Food, Inc and Ellen and Oprah both featuring shows on veganism, many people come to believe that being a vegan is inherently more healthy and will lead to weight loss success. While going vegan, or vegan-ish as Oprah has said she is moving, is certainly one option, it is not the only option and may not be the best choice for you.

The most important thing to understand is the definition of "vegan." Veganism is a form of vegetarianism, but one with a more narrow focus. Interestingly, the precise definition varies depending on the source, but most seem to define vegan as a person who chooses not to use animal products in their lives. This is the most strict sense of vegan and includes foods you eat as well as items made from animal hides and furs and things that are testing on animals (typically done as part of "safety" testing.) Therefore the strictest vegans would not use leather, not in the seats of their cars nor in their shoes, belts and bags.

However you can also be a "dietary vegan" and decide that it is okay to wear wool even though it comes from sheep.

Going from a typical American diet to a vegan diet and lifestyle requires a huge shift in mindset as well as taking time to educate yourself on nutrition, learning how to buy and cook differently. That is not a bad thing...just something that does take time and retraining.

If you are looking to lose weight successfully then this could be a great time to try going vegan since you will be changing habits anyway. For some people it is too much and it is better to take things in smaller steps.

That is what I suggest for most people. Start by learning more about nutrition. Choose one day a week to have no animal products in your diet (or try vegetarian meals instead of vegan.)

Do NOT just go out and buy a bunch of food products at the store just because they are labeled "vegan" and assume that you will lose weight. Did you notice that while a lot of pounds were lost on the Harpo challenge (Oprah's studio where almost 400 staffers pledged to go vegan for a week) some people actually GAINED weight?

This is possible because going vegan does not mean healthy. It just means no animal products. So this may be "healthier" it does not mean that it is inherently the best choice if you are wanting to drop pounds.

One of the reasons many people lose weight on a vegan diet is because of the emphasis on plant-based diet.More vegetables, complex carbohydrates, protein in the form of beans and legumes. Eating this way can be more filling and lower calorie per mouthful than eating an animal based diet. Because you are eating things that make you feel more full while the caloric density is lower you are eating fewer calories. Without making any other changes in your lifestyle then chances are really good you will lose weight. Which is good, because this plant-based diet requires a mindset shift and as I mentioned earlier, more work on educating yourself.

So why didn't everyone lose weight?

Not everyone lost weight because there are lots of high calorie vegan foods out there as well. If all you do is substitute your current diet with vegan versions of the same food you are probably not going to lose weight. There is vegan frozen dessert that substitutes for ice cream, for example, that is loaded with sugar and fats just like the original. There are vegan chips, which are prepared using vegetable oil but are not lower in calories. Also, if you go for the prepared meat-substitutes you have to read the labels to see what they are putting in them and how much you get per serving. I picked up one package at the store that was 7 ounces and that is 2 servings. While a 3.5 ounce serving of meat is also appropriate, if you are accustomed to eating a 16 ounce sirloin and you want to switch it for vegan alternatives you may not lose weight (but you will definitely lighten your wallet!)

There are still people who want to become a vegan--that's an awesome goal and one that I support if that is where you heart is telling you to go.

However, the key to weight loss success is to make a radical shift in your mindset not your diet! Decide to focus on your health. Decide that you CAN lose weight and that you DESERVE TO. The same mindset shift has to take place for you to lose weight and keep it off whether you are a vegan or a meat eater.

Then make small changes to your current lifestyle. Make changes that you can and will keep. Then when those changes are incorporated into your life you can make more.

Will this get you to drop 10 pounds in a week? Probably not. But it will allow you to successfully lose weight over time until you reach a weight that is healthy for you. It will also allow you to live your life and not feel like you are a slave to counting calories (vegan or otherwise.) And then you will look back in amazement at the changes in your body and find it hard to believe that you accomplished so much so easily.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weight Loss Success is NOT Math

I get so frustrated by conventional "wisdom" that says weight loss success is a math formula. While there is certainly SOME truth to eating less and moving more in order to shed excess fat, there is more to it than that.

For years I thought it was a simple math formula. That left me frustrated, convinced there was something wrong with me. I was sure that everyone else in the world could make the formula work...that only if I was smart enough or had enough will power or whatever else I thought I was lacking...then I, too, would be able to live in the land of the slender.

Talk about deluded! But it was no wonder. It seems the entire world believes that that's all there is to losing weight. I've learned after a lot of failed attempts that it is not that simple.

First there is the whole calorie equality thing--all calories are NOT created equal.

Then there's stress--known to pack pounds on and hold them onto some of us with iron fists even if we are eating and exercising and doing "everything right."

And finally, but not fact, probably the biggest hiccup in the equation theory is our beliefs. Our minds are very powerful things and if we have a mindset that we cannot lose weight, then our bodies will believe it and we will struggle. Sometimes we will sabotage our efforts and other times we will not lose weight no matter how hard we try.

Please, don't tell me losing weight is a math equation. I never liked math in the first place and I hated dieting. Put the two together and...well, misery likes company if you know what I mean.

Stop focusing on counting every calorie that you eat and burn. Focus on your mindset. Yes, make healthier food choices. Yes, move your body more. But believe you can do it--and you can.

I know you can. I know I can. I know we can.

To our health--without the math.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lose Weight Successfully: Get Enough Sleep, Be Less Hungry

This is part 2 of a series on the effect not getting enough sleep has on our efforts to lose weight successfully.

There is increasing evidence that insufficient sleep is directly linked to obesity and ailments such as diabetes. There has also been a lot of publicity about the direct relationship between obesity and diabetes, so even though I don't directly talk about diabetes much it is an important reason for us to achieve a healthy weight. Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as "adult onset diabetes") is much more common in people who are carrying too much body fat--no matter their age--then people in the "normal" weight range.

In addition to the diabetes connection, lack of sleep is also connected to heart disease, stroke and cardio-vascular issues. Bottom line is we have got to get enough sleep to be healthy! I know it seems obvious, but we tend to push ourselves thinking that giving up on sleep is our only option...that if we just get a little less sleep we will get more done, provide a better life for our families, make more money, etc. Truth is, if we become ill we will be LESS benefit to our family, COST them money and we will have LESS TIME with them--certainly less QUALITY time and possibly be LOST TO THEM FOREVER.

If that isn't enough, how about this: lack of sleep makes us hungrier!

Sleeping is actually a way for our body to regulate our appetite via hormones. When we don't get enough sleep the hormone that helps us feel satiated (leptin) is depressed. At the same time the hormone that stimulates our appetite (ghrelin) is increased.

Missing an hour or two once in a while is probably not going to make you obese. But chronically shorting yourself on sleep can. What's even scarier to me is that just 2 nights of shorting yourself of sleep can have this effect. I remember pulling all-nighters (often) and getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night for years, punctuated with nights of 10-12 hours sleep, but those short nights set me up for major health problems. Of course I didn't know that at the time, I felt I had to get the project done--whether it was for school or work--and feeling a bit tired was a small price to pay for the rewards I would receive.

Boy, was I wrong! I don't think anyone ever built a monument to someone because they missed sleep to get a project done on time.

A third hormone is also at play--adiponectin also helps regulate our body fat. When this hormone level falls (which happens with sleep deprivation, especially in Caucasian women) our blood sugar gets out of whack, our metabolism slows, and our cholesterol and blood pressure levels get out of balance.

Finally, the hormone melatonin is also affected by lack of sleep. This is especially important to those of us on a weight loss journey since studies have already demonstrated that healthy melatonin levels help us maintain a healthy weight.

Numerous studies are now showing that getting ample sleep on a regular basis is essential for our reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Truth is, sleep is something that benefits our brains, our bodies and our emotions. When we are exhausted we don't feel good, we are less apt to believe we can positively impact our lives. Because our body's chemistry is out of whack it is harder for us to maintain the positive mental attitude we need to lose weight and we will reach for foods and drinks that give us artificial energy. Unfortunately that backfires on us in the long-run and we feel even more tired, so we grab more stimulants in the form of sugar or caffeine which just gets us even more out of balance and more prone to being overweight.

So put your health first and get some sleep.

If you aren't getting restorative sleep because of some other issues like insomnia or sleep apnea, if you feel tired even though you regularly are "asleep" for 8 or more hours a night--see your doctor. There are therapies that can help. Sometimes a medical condition can keep us from sleeping and that condition may be made worse by being overweight--or may be actually cured by losing weight, but we may need some help to break the cycle enough to get the sleep we need so we can have healthy hormone levels and body and brain chemistry that will aide us in getting a positive mindset about losing weight.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Weight Loss Challenge: Lack of Sleep

Sleep is an important component to our having healthy bodies. We all know that. We realize that we function better when we have had ample sleep, when we don't feel the need to pump our bodies full of sugar and caffeine just to keep our eyelids open. But did you know that lack of sleep is a big challenge to our weight loss success?

Researchers are pretty much convinced that the facts that we are getting less sleep and weighing more are related and not merely coincidence. According to a study reported in 2008 there are direct associations between sleep loss and an increased risk of both obesity and diabetes.

Maybe sleeping in isn't such a bad thing after all!

Whether your lack of sleep is because you are trying to fit more into a day that doesn't get any longer (I used to say if I could just give up eating & sleeping maybe I could get it all done--ha!) or you have a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea, or maybe because you wake up a lot because you are peri-menopausal your body is not getting the restorative benefits it needs from sleep. Notice the word "rest" within "restorative"...while we sleep our body rests and allows it to maintain health and wellness and to heal itself.

Sleep apnea is one of the major causes of lack of sleep. As women, we are more apt to experience sleep apnea after menopause. Interestingly that is also a time when many women gain weight. Sleep apnea appears to be much more widespread than anyone previously thought--many people with the disorder actually are undiagnosed.

Changing your sleep pattern by staying up late or getting up early affects your natural circadian rhythm. Our hormones rise and fall in rhythms throughout the day and night and key hormones Melatonin, cortisol and testosterone are time-based. By shifting our schedules we interrupt our natural hormone balance and that can cause weight gain.

Tomorrow I'll go into more about how lack of sleep negatively impacts our blood sugar and can make us hungrier!

Until then, have a great day and get a good night's sleep!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day Lesson: Don't Repeat Weight Loss Failures

Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day? It was a funny, thought-provoking movie from 1993 starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. In the movie, Bill Murray's character, "Phil", has to relive the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over and over and over. How often do we do that, reliving our weight loss failures over and over and over?

Fortunately he is given the opportunity to revise his day: Phil is not doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over.

This is the most important lesson we can learn from the movie. Even though we won't live Feb. 2, 2011 (or thankfully 1993 either) over again, we can choose to live essentially the same days repeatedly. Or, we can choose to change our lives and get out of our ruts and live the lives we want.

In order to have weight loss success rather than failure we must decide to take control of our lives and steer our days in a different direction.

What we have right now...our current weight for example...are results of our decisions in the past. We will continue to wake to the same result until we choose to take different actions.

Fortunately we don't have to make huge changes. Nor do we have to make all the changes in one day, or even one year.

We didn't become overweight because we ate too much food one time. We became overweight because of the accumulation of lots of small actions--eating instead of expressing our feelings, eating without thinking about it, not making healthy food choices,
eating too much sugar, not moving our bodies--over a period of years. For some of us this period has been our entire lives.

We can become weight loss success stories! By making small changes consistently we will improve our health. It MUST improve, it cannot NOT improve!

The only way we are failures is to give up. We give up when we try to do too much all at once and we get overwhelmed or frustrated because we are not seeing immediate results.

Do yourself a favor and start now...start small, but start. Then just keep putting one foot in front of the other on the path of your choosing. You'll get out of the rut and find yourself with a whole new script for a healthy, happy life!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tap Tap Tap for Weight Loss Success

Being a stone sculptor, I LOVE this quote...the analogy is so appropriate for weight loss success.

When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

~Jacob Riis, Danish born American b 1849

We must keep chipping away at our efforts even though sometimes we don't see any results, knowing that our weight loss success will come as a result of all our activities. Sometimes we will see a big result, like the rock splitting in two, only after repeatedly taking what seems to be the tiniest of actions.

It is not a big blow that creates a sculpture, it is a series of little ones. A big blow creates a fracture in the stone and will not result in the desired outcome. A big blow is like a crash just won't give us the result we want in the long run.

Using the correct tools is a critical part to this. I can beat my bare fist against a rock every minute of every day for the rest of my life and it will not become a sculpture. However when I put a chisel in one hand and hammer in the other I can create a work of art.

The same is true with our bodies. With simple tools, used repeatedly we can create our healthy, energetic and slender bodies. Our tools are our minds, our mouths (nutrition), and moving our bodies.

I wasn't born knowing how to sculpt, how to use the tools. Similarly we may not know how to pick out the tools for our weight loss success. We will have more rapid success if we learn from someone who has already been there. I didn't learn to sculpt by studying with a painter. I didn't learn to be healthy by studying with a junk food eater. We must surround ourselves with teachers and compatriots who have the experience and shared goal in order to maximize our results.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Write Your Own Weight Loss Success Story

I've had this on my fridge for a while because it is so powerful...whenever I read it I am reminded to take control of my life. This little quote helps shift my mindset about weight loss, keeps me positive and is a great tool for life improvement in all areas.

Most of us live our lives as if we're watching a movie--one that someone else is writing, producing, and directing. We sit back with our popcorn and Jujubes and say, "I wonder how this will turn out?"...Well, guess what? The answer lies with you. You're Sam Goldwyn. You're in charge.

~From Between Trapezes, by Gail Blanke

Maybe this quote from Blanke inspires you to take control of your life in the area of health and fitness. I love the popcorn and Jujubes many times have I sat on the couch drowning myself and my sorrows in a pint of Ben of Jerry's (or two) and wondered when I would become fit and healthy!

Maybe Blanke will inspire you to take control of your life in another area. Maybe it is your professional life that needs to shift. Perhaps your love life could use a rewrite.

No matter where you would like to have an improved life experience it is up to us to take the steps to achieve it.

First we must know what we want to achieve. This is a bit like watching a movie...we must be able to see what we want.

We must believe that it is possible to achieve it.

We must believe that it is possible for US to achieve it. (Very important step!) Still the movie...we visualize that we are achieving it.

Then we focus on the improved result and we take steps to achieve it. Visualizing is great, but visualizing ourselves fit and healthy isn't going to happen if we never get off the couch, never make any changes to our eating habits.

Then we keep focusing on the new result and keep taking those steps, not looking back at what we had or didn't have, not looking at what we have or don't have now. Have confidence that as you move forward and make the steps in the right direction the result WILL don't have to keep checking, looking for it, evaluating your success or not.

Finally we receive it and celebrate and express our gratitude!