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!

Monday, January 24, 2011

RIP Weight Loss Inspiration Jack LaLanne

Jack LaLanne has died at age 96.

This one remarkable man did more for health and fitness than countless others combined. He proved that anyone could change their body. He demonstrated that we are not doomed to be unfit merely because the calendar marches on.

One of my favorite memories of LaLanne's "stunts"--events he held to further health and fitness-- was watching him pull boats while swimming...he did this stunt numerous times to celebrate different events in history. (See a list of his feats)

While I never was into body building, nor can I claim to be nearly the fitness fanatic that Jack was, he certainly was an inspiration to me. In fact I remember one time while in college when some friends and I went out to the lake on a boat...when the boat died what did I do? I swam it in to shore. Granted, it was 1 boat with only 5 people aboard...but I felt pretty buff doing it!

Thanks Jack for the inspiration and the memories.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Walmart Joins Weight Loss Success Effort

Walmart is the largest grocery chain in the US and they have now pledged their support of First Lady Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity. They say they will change the formulas of many of their Great Value brand items to lower the amount of sodium and sugar they contain. This could really help Americans in the efforts to achieve weight loss success.

This is a great move for consumers as the "hidden" sugar in these goods has a direct link to many of our health issues and this country's obesity epidemic. In fact, the starting place is to focus on things like salad dressing, fruit juice and lunch meat--products that when you read the label you will often see have sugar in the top 5 ingredients.

Sales of Great Value label products amount to roughly 20% of Walmart's sales--so this is not a small promise. But don't expect to see the change on products tomorrow--reformulation will take some time. The goal is to reduce soium by 25% and reduce or remove added sugar from "some" of their label products by 2015.

Even if you don't buy your groceries at Walmart, this move will likely have an affect on you because of the power Walmart yields with suppliers. The chain gets this power because it controls roughly 15% of the grocery sales in the US--the closest competitor is Kroger, the parent company of King Soopers here in Colorado, which is about 1/2 the size of Walmart.

It is likely that suppliers and even competitors will follow Walmart's lead as they did when the giant encouraged a reduction in packaging.

Also in the plan is removing more trans fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils) from the line which will also be a big health benefit.

In another health-positive move, Walmart is pledging to lower prices on fresh produce.

Since we won't see these changes overnight, it is still up to us to make conscious food choices and to read labels. As more of us vote with our wallets and stop buying foods that contain unnecessary sugar, sodium and trans fats, the grocery industry will scramble to meet the demand for healthier foods.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Old Unhealthy Me Was Living Loud Today

My day started off a bit rough today. I was feeling sensitive, not the strong, confident person that I am most days.

It wasn't like I could just go back to bed until I felt better--I had appointments to go to, places to be, people to see. You know, that little thing called life.

I thought I had moved past it, worked it out, but when I was running to my appointments and errands it became abundantly clear that I had not! The "old me"...the unhealthy one, the one who used to buy junk food, eat it and try to hide the evidence...she kept talking to me this morning.

I stopped at the post office which is next to a grocery store and thought, "we need milk, I'll just run in and get some milk." But the voice of the unhealthy me said--"and get some cookies...they taste so know, the big home-made tasting ones they make at this one will know."

Fortunately I had another appointment that would take a couple hours, so buying milk was not really practical...saved for the moment.

At the post office they have a candy bar display...none of that looked good. Not that that would have stopped me in the past, but today I was able to say "don't want it so I won't buy it." Hurray.

My last errand brought me near another grocery store. It was now noon and I had not eaten since 7. So now the unhealthy me was really pushing hard! I seriously thought about going into the grocery store, but I knew that if I did it would be that much harder to resist the yelling of that unhealthy voice (today there were no whispers.)

I decided to not go into the store. I probably have enough milk to make it until tomorrow, I decided. And if not, I can always go back out after I've had some lunch.

Once I got home and had some food I felt better. And later I was able to actually talk about what had been bothering me. It was a silly little thing that won't make a lick of difference in my life--or the lives of anyone else--by the end of the day. Next week I probably won't even remember it happened. And I almost let that silly little thing take me out today.

I'm proud of myself for walking away from the store. I'm proud of myself for not succumbing to the unhealthy voice. I'm proud of myself for recognizing that this was an emotional pull to eat, not a real physical hunger. And I'm especially proud for really talking it out and getting the emotions out instead of stuffing them down.

Days like today I realize just how far I have come...and that the weight loss journey continues for me every day.

The weight loss success tip out of this experience: when emotions surface, walk and talk--give yourself time and distance to think rather than react.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weight Loss Tip: Games People Play

We all know that moving our body is an important aspect of gaining fitness and losing weight, but for a lot of us "exercise" is a dirty word--even if it is more than 4 letters long.

The absolute best exercise for losing weight is one that you will figure out a way to make it fun. The goal is to have you enjoying your life, not dreading it! Active games are one way that we can get fit by moving our body while making it fun.

Whether you want to play tag or Frisbee with your kids, get on the swingset at the local playground (they don't call it an exercise yard except in prison!), pick up a racket for tennis or badminton or a paddle for your kayak, canoe or even for ping-pong...playing is good for your body, your mind and your spirit!

Dr. Daniel Amen who is a specialist in brain and brain chemistry says that playing increases blood flow to the brain and our ability to process. Active play typically requires coordination of eyes, hands and feet. So don't pooh-pooh sports like badminton and ping-pong any more--they can be great ways to get fit and stimulate your brain.

BTW, did you know actress Susan Sarandon is a big fan of Ping-Pong? In her words, the sport is "the most fun way to stay in shape." If you want to join Sarandon at the table, find a club by going to

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weight Loss Success Tip: Temptation Assistance is at Hand

Yesterday I wrote about how hard it is to break unhealthy habits and that one solution can be putting space between you and temptation. Sometimes we can do that by avoiding stores when we are hungry, not buying junk food treats that trip our trigger, or even putting tempting foods somewhere that we can't readily see or reach them.

I read about a new study that reveals we have another tool right at hand. Literally. When you are facing your temptation, whether that is chips or candy in the vending machine at work or something in the store or your own home, according to this study if you clench your fist it will help.

It isn't something that works long-term...but it can be an immediate boost for you when face-to-face with temptation.

Fists aren't the only things that work either--although it is harder to reach for that pint of Ben & Jerry's without the use of fingers! You can clench any muscles for the same effect. So if your hands are otherwise occupied squeeze you buttocks. Then you get a little isometric exercising it at the same time!

Study published by the Journal of Consumer Research

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Weight Loss Challenge: Immediate Pleasure vs I Know Better

I've mentioned recently how I think setting New Year's resolutions sucks, we'll now I actually have some science to back up my beliefs. Love it when that happens!

Strike one against our efforts to lose weight...big surprise: we like sweets! Turns out humans are genetically built to prefer sweeter tasting foods than bitter ones. This was good for procreation and safety as more bitter tasting foods were poisonous than sweet ones. Survival of the fittest (or sweetest) at work--those who didn't eat the poison survived.

We also get a hit of dopamine when we eat foods that we enjoy...dopamine is a pleasure-sensing hormone and it reinforces the pleasure aspect of eating those foods. So every time we eat something that tastes super yummy we get a hit of dopamine and so we want it even more.

So we like sweets and then foods that taste really good give us a brain buzz.

This double whammy makes it really hard to break a habit. We may have really good intentions (like setting a resolution) but this dopamine hit is more than just a bad actually hard-wires us to want the substance, even when we have a better reward in the future. So much for willpower!

So it is a showdown between our intellect and our biology. Dr Nora Volkow is an authority on the brain's pleasure sensing pathway and she says this is why unhealthy actions become habits and why they are so hard to break.

Not only are habits hard to break, for some reason we think we will be able to handle temptation better than we really can.

Loran Norgren is a psychologist at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and in their studies they have documented that people who put more obstacles between themselves and the temptation have a much better success rate at not giving in. They have also shown that people tend to overestimate their ability to withstand the temptation...and that leads to their downfall.

Lessons from this?

Immediate pleasure is a powerful thing--and certainly not all bad (that procreation thing, remember But in our effort to lose weight, sometimes we need to put a little distance between ourselves and our food temptation. At least until we can unwire our brains.

Another thing we can do to help us overcome the pull of that immediate pleasure is to be very aware of when we eat and why. Reducing emotional reasons and environmental stimulation really helps. Don't go to the grocery store hungry for one. And don't stock up on your favorite treats to test yourself...studies show odds are you will "not be the biggest loser" if you get my drift.

As far as I am concerned learning to really love ourselves is one of the biggest weapons we have against the pull of immediate pleasure. When we love ourselves we naturally want to take care of our bodies and eat healthier foods. It doesn't mean that we will never want a treat, it does mean that we will be less inclined to have to binge over it. And if we do binge, we will be better able to forgive ourselves and move on.

In the meantime, loving ourselves might just mean putting some distance between a food we love and the bodies we love, at least temporarily!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why I Refuse to Diet to Lose Weight!--Amen & Caution

I read a great post today at Inland Empire Family blogs, titled "Why I Refuse to Diet to Lose Weight!" You can imagine with a name like that that I had to read it.

People often say they refuse to diet--and it is usually that they have been on diets before. Lots of diets. Diets that let them down. That is the case with "Skinny Jeans Mom" who wrote this post.

I agree with just about everything she (SJM) says...and I've written much of the same thoughts, both here and in my book, Refuse to Diet: Weight Loss Success Starts with Your Mind...Not Your Mouth. She talks about getting ample sleep, getting rid of the guilt if you do have a treat, not skipping meals and moderation to name a few tips. She just makes sense, small changes to get the results you want, diets don't work, don't deprive yourself, etc.

Check out SJM's blog post, it has lots of great tips...but one word of caution--

When SJM talks about water she suggests "stashing" water in your car. Drinking sufficient water a big part of being healthy since our bodies are mostly water, but here is a word of caution. There is so much documentation that shows the sunlight and heat in our cars can cause plastic to leach into our water bottles, so using plastic bottles in our cars is just not a good idea. If I'm out and about I carry a bottle with me, either BPA-free plastic or metal. If I'm driving for a long time or want to leave water in the car then I also have a small cooler with me. Even though I like my water room temp, I will put a small ice bag in the cooler, thereby helping the water to stay fresh and safe.

I would add one big tip: eat consciously. When we stop our unconscious eating by limiting our multi-tasking while eating we experience more satisfaction with the food we do eat and we get full more quickly--we have more pleasure (so if you truly love food, as opposed to loving to put food in your mouth, this is a good thing) and we actually will successfully lose weight.

Read SJM's post in full by clicking here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Weight Loss Success Tip: Don't Aim for Perfection

How many times have I been on a diet, blown it--even just a little, and decided that because I wasn't perfect on the diet it wasn't worth sticking to? More times than I can count!

What irritates me is the holier than thou attitude some dieters have, that you MUST be perfect, you MUST deprive yourself. This idea of diet martyrdom is ridiculous.

And then there are the people who will tell you that you must not really want to achieve health and fitness if you can't stick to a diet.

The truth is, diets don't work--not in the long-run. Diets are meant to be temporary. If you have a few pounds to lose then maybe a diet will work for you. If you have temporarily gained a few pounds then sure, you can cut back and the pounds will probably come right off.

If you have a serious weight problem, one that has lasted for years, one that has had you on the diet roller coaster, then it is time to get off the ride. I mean, are you having fun on that attraction?

Instead of the yo-yoing up and down that diets provide we need to focus on our health and figure out what we can do today--even if it is only for today that will help us move forward towards improved health.

Some days we will be able to handle a lot. Other days we might only be able to take a step or two towards health. And frankly, there will be days when you probably take a step back. That is not failure--that is LIFE! This is not a reality television show--there's not a camera filming everything you eat, there's not a coach yelling at you and pushing you to work out 6 hours a day. So give yourself a break and do what you can.

Hope Skeen is a local freshman in high school and she had some remarkably sage words about setting goals. At her age I was set on trying to be perfect...boy is she light-years ahead of me!

In our society today, there is a pressing need to be perfect and to compare yourself to other people we perceive to be perfect...I believe that most new year's resolutions reflect this issue.

Hmmm...this goes hand in hand with yesterday's post that weight loss resolutions suck. Hope continued and cited the stats on how many of us create resolutions and that after the first week 1/4 of them are already broken and by February over 1/3 are dead in the water. Not a good track why model your behavior on failure? Diets fail. Resolutions fail. OK, move on!

...low statistics are because we're setting resolutions in an attempt to achieve perfection...

Think about what you want to achieve...what you SAY you want to achieve. Can you get there only by demanding perfection? Or are you trying to achieve perfection? If you are then sit back a bit and re-evaluate and reflect on this wise young woman's words:

What's the use of setting goals you cannot reach? Eventually you will realize that this goal isn't getting accomplished and you will forget about it.
Now, take a look at your life. See what is good about it. It is important to recognize what you are doing right. No one can be perfect--neither perfectly good nor perfectly bad. We all fall somewhere in the middle on the scale. Focus on what your strengths are. Write them down.

Once you have a list of your strengths you can come up with some aspects of your life that you want to improve--not to make that aspect or you perfect...small changes that you can make...just to be a better human being. Being better, being healthier...these are things we can do.

"Better" allows us to be human and gives us room to improve in the future!

Thanks Hope for your wise words, and in closing are a few more:

Don't try to meet everyone else's expectations, but try to be the best you can be and let everyone else worry about being perfect.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why Weight Loss Resolutions Suck

I know a lot of people swear by resolutions, but personally I just don't think they really work. Especially not for losing weight fact, I think they suck.

Look, we all want to set and achieve goals. We're taught that to get ahead in life--at anything--that we have to have goals. But goals and resolutions are not the same thing.

Goals are specific. They are measurable. They are attainable. They are realistic. Sure, they may push you beyond your comfort zone, but you have to be able to reach a goal if it is to be valid--at least according to every goal-setting guru I've ever talked to or read.

Resolutions however tend to be some lofty ideal that we think of as a goal. They may be measurable, but they are typically pretty general and are usually not realistically attainable. They are just too huge and often they are all or nothing type deals.

A typical weight loss resolution will be something like this:
I resolve to stop eating junk food.
Or like this:
I resolve to exercise every day.

I'm not saying these are not admirable intentions, but come on, let's get real. Sure we would all be better off if we didn't eat junk food and we exercised daily. But the way these resolutions read if we eat junk food ONCE we have mucked up the works, so we might as well throw in the towel. We will actually self-sabotage ourselves with these kinds of resolutions if we haven't addressed why we are overweight in the first place.

So we break the resolution. We break the resolution because it is too strict, too limiting and it doesn't allow us to be human! Instead of recognizing that though we use it as an opportunity to criticize ourselves. We end up feeling bad about ourselves and go right back to our unhealthy, pre-resolution life and consider ourselves a failure, again.

Throw away the resolutions! Instead be more gently on yourself and let aim for improving your health. This gives you some leeway and allows you to be successful every day!

Improving your health means making more healthy choices than non-healthy ones.It means learning about your weight loss mindset--why you have gotten overweight and why you have struggled to lose weight. It means learning something about nutrition that you didn't before. It means moving your body more than you did before--even just a little bit. Improving your health means caring enough about yourself to treat your body and your spirit in a loving way--no more beating up on yourself for not being a size 2.

I guess if I'm going to have a resolution this year, it is to no longer make resolutions. Oops, guess I broke it...but at least it isn't something I have to feel guilty about!