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 told...it 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 us...it 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!