Weight Loss Success Story – Kathy Perham!

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Boot Camp Success Story:  Kathy Perham
Kathy has lost 19 pounds, doing it all the healthy way!
 
Kathy and I became friends over the last few years, and because she felt I was very upbeat and motivating, she joined my garage for Boot Camp in January.   She started coming to my classes twice a week and exercising at home on her own, too.  She now brings some of my boot camp workouts along with her on vacation and has her husband George do them with her!  He himself has lost 22 pounds, thanks to Kathy’s inspiration.
 
Along with exercise, Kathy really dialed in her nutrition.  She and her husband had gained weight, and she was getting concerned about their health.  She joined us for a 5-week group nutrition challenge and motivated her husband to join as well.  Now they are both very conscious about what they eat.  She says she feels better when she eats well.  She has more energy now, and her acid reflux has gone away.  Best of all, George’s doctor said his blood work had improved dramatically since his last visit!
 
 “I feel healthy and look healthy.  I want to keep going; I’m not getting any younger,” says Kathy.  Her advice is, “Start taking better care of yourself now before it’s too late!”
 
Kathy did a lot of things right:  she addressed both diet and exercise at the same time, and got a buddy to do it with her!  And she doesn’t go overboard – she treats herself every once in a while, and thoroughly enjoys it!
 
Way to go, Kathy and George!  Enjoy shopping for all those new clothes in smaller sizes!
PS:  If you would like to join us for Boot Camp or for our next nutrition challenge on September 12th, send me an email today!
xo,
Ginny  
Ginny@yourmovefitness.com

 

Four Pro-Active Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer

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In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share with you some pro-active  steps that you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Medical Center, in the 1960’s, one out of every 20 women was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Today, one in eight women are likely to develop this disease.  Because breast cancer runs in my family,  I would like to think that I do everything that I can do to prevent it.   Of course I do the “active surveillance” that doctors recommend, meaning that I do self breast exams and go for periodic checks with the doctor with the hope that they don’t find anything.   To me, that seems more “in-active” than “active.”

What else can we do besides wait for breast cancer NOT to happen?  We can try to change the conditions in which the cancer grows in our bodies.  Here are three major steps we can take to keep breast cancer from thriving in our systems.

  • Decrease Sugar Intake:  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinical Center for Functional Medicine, the number one driver of cancer is sugar.  In fact, sugar is one of the most potent toxins in our food supply.  On average, Americans consumer 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour (which acts even worse than sugar in our bodies) every year.  Sugar and flour both increase the release of insulin in our bodies.  Because insulin is a growth hormone, having more of it in our systems makes cancer cells grow.  It also creates inflammation, both of which help cancer cells thrive.  Therefore, we want to have a low glycemic diet to reduce our risk of cancer.  For more about the glycemic diet, check out this link from Harvard Medical School: http://bit.ly/1uKuys5  .  Don’t wait to become diabetic before getting on a low-glycemic diet.
  • Increase Fiber, Prebiotic and Probiotic Intake.  In case you needed yet another reason to eat a high-fiber diet; a diet rich with fiber is important for your gastrointestinal tract (GI) and gut flora.  Did you know that 70% of your immune system is actually in your gut?  Furthermore, according to Dr. Hyman,  if the microorganisms in your gut are imbalanced, you run a higher risk of cancer.  Research shows that women who’ve take a lot of antibiotics in the past have an increased incidence of breast cancer because antibiotics affect the balance of gut flora.  In order to balance these microorganisms, consider eating more prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods, all of which are beneficial for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.  For more info click here:  http://bit.ly/1MgBv6N  and here:  http://bit.ly/1N26S7R .
  • Get Rid Of Toxins.  Of course we don’t eat toxins!  Or do we?  Nowadays, we are surrounded by toxins:  they are in plastics, pesticides, dry cleaning, and even skin care products.  These toxins act like estrogens in our body, binding to the receptors that are meant for estrogen, which can stimulate the pathways that drive cancer.  How to avoid toxins:
    1. Drink filtered water.
    2. Eat organic food (see www.ewg.org)
    3. Reduce toxic household products, including skin care products (again, see www.ewg.org for more info)
  • Alcohol.  There’s a reason I left this for last – it’s a tough one.  I was shocked to learn from Dr. Hyman that just one glass of alcohol per day increases your risk of breast cancer by 40%!  Because alcohol is a liver toxin, it affects your ability to metabolize estrogen, therefore there are higher levels of estrogen in your system if you drink alcohol. For more information regarding breast cancer and alcohol, check out this link:  http://bit.ly/1m5WHEN

    Here’s the takeaway:

  • Get rid of sugar in your diet.
  • Increase the amount of fiber, pre-biotics and pro-biotics in your diet.
  • Get rid of toxins in your food, water, skin care and household products by eating real food, filtered water, and using clean skincare and household products.  (Refer to www.ewg.org)
  • Limit alcohol to 3 glasses per week.

As I always say, just focus on one of these ideas, get it straight, and then add on another one.  Don’t try to do it all in one day.  What’s your first step going to be?

Is “Excessive Celebration Syndrome” Making You Gain Weight?

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The Fourth of July Weekend Is Here!

It’s time to celebrate, kick back, relax, and enjoy the long-awaited celebration!   Enjoy the fireworks, the hot weather, and the “Everything Under the Sun Buffet!”  On the menu: cheeseburgers, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, buttered corn on the cob, ice cream, and lemonade!  It only happens once a year, so go ahead and splurge!  Yippee!

Wait – hold on a second!  Didn’t we just say that last weekend at our Father’s Day barbecue? And the weekend before that at the graduation party?  And the kids’ end-of-the-year school party?

Is this really a special celebration, or just the featured celebration of the week?

Actually, the “celebration mentality” happens way more often than we like to think!  Sometimes it’s for a whole season!

Think of all the family birthdays, celebrations, and vacations that happen throughout the year.  Then add all of the official calendar holidays:

January – New Year’s and Martin Luther King Weekend

February – Valentine’s Day and February Break Week

March – St. Patrick’s Day

April – Spring Break Week and Easter – maybe a vacation, too!

May – Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day

June – Father’s Day, graduations, weddings and school end-of-year celebrations

July – 4th of July,  multiple barbecues and lots of hang time

August – Vacation

September – Oh shit!  Weighing in after a fun summer!

October – Halloween

November – Thanksgiving

December – Multiple parties and Christmas season (which adds an average of four pounds to September’s weight)

That’s a lot of celebrating!  If we were to enjoy each one of these occasions with a whole day of splurging, and then add the entire seasons of summer and Christmas, that’s a lot of “festive” eating! That’s more of a weekly pattern, not a special event!

Managing these occasions is key to successful weight management.

What I observe from my clients is that ones who are the most successful at losing weight are the ones who stick to their healthy habits consistently, even at parties.  They have their head in the game.  When they splurge, it’s never overboard; it’s usually one drink or dessert.  They choose their splurges wisely, and rarely drop their guard completely.  On the occasions when they do let themselves go, they get right back on track the next day.

How do you handle celebrations and barbecues?

Photo credit:   FourthOfJuly-2105.com

How To Stop Those Sugar Cravings!


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Do you ever crave sugar, even when you’ve just finished eating?

Do you start foraging the cabinets for just a little something to satisfy a sweet craving, especially after dinner?  Then before you even realize it, you’ve added another 200-400 calories of crap to an otherwise healthy day?  If this happens to you, you are not alone!  And it could be causing you a lot of undesired weight gain and unhealthy side-effects.  In case you didn’t know, this is the exact method that Sumo wrestlers use to put on weight; they eat a lot of empty calories and then go to bed.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The 10-Day Detox Diet,” it’s not a matter of having poor self-discipline.  “What happens is that your hormones are out of balance.”   There are a number of hormones that regulate your appetite including insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY.  If you can learn to regulate those hormones, then your appetite and cravings for sweets will diminish.  These four hormone levels are all disturbed by eating sugar, flour, and processed foods.  Another important hormone is cortisone, which is your stress hormone.  When you’re stressed, your level of cortisol increases, which raises your blood sugar level and your appetite (for sugar in particular).

So what can you do to regulate those hormones and stop those post-meal sweet cravings, and end the night-time binges on desserts and snacks?  Dr. Hyman suggests the following:

1.  Have protein for breakfast.  I usually eat eggs, but if you’re not a fan of eggs, try a protein shake.  You can put the following in a blender, and it will satisfy you for hours:  a tablespoon of hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almond butter, and coconut butter.  Then add some frozen cranberries and blueberries, topped with a little almond or hemp milk (unsweetened).  Blend until smooth.  If you’re not usually hungry for breakfast, I suspect that it’s because you ate a lot after dinner last night.  It’s all tied together.

2.  Don’t drink your calories.  Avoid any sweetened drinks like soda, iced tea, sports drinks, juices, lattes, or what I call “crappucinos.”  Many people don’t think of these drinks as sugar-laden, but they are, and they spike your blood sugar levels and increase your appetite.  Try to avoid adding artificial sugars to everything – even Stevia.  You want to stop whetting your appetite for the flavor of sugar all the time.

3.  Eat at regular times.  Have your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner at regular intervals.  This will help keep your appetite and blood sugar levels regulated, and keep your body in a good biological rhythm.

4.  Eat a combination of protein and healthy fat every time you eat.   Have some combination of nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, or olive oil, together with chicken, fish, or  grass-fed beef every time you eat.  Add lots of green leafy vegetables.  This will go a long way towards regulating your appetite and blood sugar levels.

5.  Manage your stress levels.  Have you ever heard that “Stressed spelled backwards is desserts?”  It’s true!  When you’re anxious or stressed, your appetite increases, and you will crave sweet food.  Try yoga, meditation, or exercise to help you balance your hormones again and reset your brain chemistry.

6.  GO TO BED!   Get a good night’s rest.  If you don’t get adequate, high-quality sleep, your hormones will be out of whack. The hormone that signals hunger (ghrelin) will increase, and the hormone that signals you to feel full (PYY) goes down.  So you will be hungry AND crave all the wrong things:  carbs and sugar.   The whole spectrum of health professionals recommend this consistently, but most people either don’t prioritize it, or vastly underestimate how much it affects their weight and health.

7.  Address your food allergies.  Most people don’t realize that a common sign of an allergy is that you crave the very food that you’re allergic or sensitive to.  And the two most common food sensitivities are dairy and gluten.   Try eliminating those two foods (dairy, flour and sugar) from your diet for a few weeks and see if your cravings stop.

8.  Supplements.  Fish oil, omega 3, and vitamin D3 tablets all help to regulate hormones and balance insulin levels.  Dr. Hyman also recommends what he refers to as a “Super Fiber” supplement called PGX.  If taken 10-15 minutes before meals and again after dinner, PGX will help to cut cravings, make you feel satisfied, and slow down insulin spiking.  NOTE:  You might be tempted to immediately order PGX on Amazon.com and then skip the rest of Dr. Hyman’s suggestions.  However, you can’t just supplement your way out of unhealthy eating habits.  To get off on to a running start, sure, this might be one way to get going.  But you need to COMMIT TO YOURSELF to a healthier way of eating, not just buy your way out of it or fix it with a pill.  (Takes one to know one – I myself felt like ordering a case of PGX when I heard his video).

As always, I suggest that you adopt ONE of these habits at a time, and then let me know how your night-time or after-dinner cravings go!  Good luck!

 

 

Photo from FitDay.com

How To Have Your Ice Cream – And Eat It, Too!

 

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Everyone loves a delicious ice cream on a hot summer day!

I try to be humble about it, but I consider myself to be quite the ice cream connoisseur.  I grew up right across the street from a Baskin Robbins, and one summer my best friend and I challenged each other to trying all 31 flavors one summer – TWICE (remember Pink Bubble Gum flavor?)  So there’s that.  (Obviously that was back in my heavier days as a kid.)

In high school, I was a waitress at Friendly’s Ice Cream Shop.  It was the best job ever, except of course for my present job!  I still remember how to make a Fribble, a Jim Dandy (banana split), and the ultimate:  The Reese’s Pieces Sundae.  Good times, good times.  And I’ve even toured Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Vermont, including the flavor graveyard.

I feel that all that experience qualifies me as an ice cream expert.  BUT – I learned some new things recently from an article posted by Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist from Cleveland Clinic, and author of “50 Ways To Soothe Yourself Without Food.”  It grabbed my attention because it was all about bringing mindfulness to eating ice cream.  (Anything that could enhance someone’s ice cream eating experience must be a good thing, right?)

Here’s the problem as I see it:  I talk and talk about my weekly dessert splurge, and it works for me because I’m usually satisfied by the time I get to the last mouthful.  But with ice cream, there’s just never enough.  It ends too soon.   And who doesn’t get sad when it’s over? I always want just a little more, and look to see if there might be one more spoonful to sneak from my husband’s cup. (Letting me do that was in our pre-nuptual agreement).  I suspect that I’m not really “savoring the flavor.”

The first thing Dr. Albers suggests is to eat ice cream from a cone rather than a cup.  According to a study in Eating Well Magazine, the flavor of ice cream is actually released when the fat within the ice cream warms up to your body temperature.  So by licking the ice cream, you’re actually releasing more flavor as it melts on your tongue, rather than if you have a plastic spoon insulate the ice cream from your tongue.  The other idea is that licking takes longer than spooning, so the experience is drawn out over a longer period of time.  WHAT??  That is such a crazy idea that it just might work!

The second step is to watch your portions:  While you’re standing in line waiting for your ice cream, observe the different scoop sizes.  Portions can vary from 5 ounces for a small to as much as 12 ounces for a large (that’s 3/4 of a pound).  Order a reasonable serving.  I go with the Goldilocks diet when I splurge. I get a medium; not too small, not too big.

My next suggestion is to avoid those self-serve ice cream places!  Whoever dreamed up this idea is probably swimming in cash right now!  The first time I did this, it felt like a buffet.   And you know how much more you eat at buffets, right?  First, I grabbed a cup (have you noticed they only have large cups?).  I served myself a splash of chocolate, twisted in a bit of peanut butter, sprinkled on a few Reese’s pieces, a spoonful of crushed Oreos.  By the time I was done, the scale revealed that I had whipped up a 3/4 pound monster! As my mother used to say, “That’s how they getcha!”  And she’d be right!

While I’m weighing in on this topic, as with any addiction, the first step is to acknowledge you have a problem.  If you can’t resist ice cream, don’t keep it in the house.  OR, if you do keep it in the house (“for the kids” – I’ve heard that one before), buy pre-portioned servings, and stick to one serving.  And no, I don’t mean those pint-size containers of Ben & Jerry’s that they sell at convenience stores.  A serving of ice cream is only 1/2 cup.  One pint equals 2 cups (4 servings).  Sorry.  Try Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches or something that is truly one portion – very satisfying!

I feel that I have worked through my issues with ice cream over the years, and I only eat it on occasion now.  It’s not because I don’t love it, but I just don’t find it as tempting anymore.  I suppose once you’ve cleaned up during the night shift at Friendly’s and had your pantyhose stuck to your knees with hardened, dried up, sticky melted ice cream and fudge, it loses its luster.  But I do hope you enjoy yours!

Happy Summer!  Let me know how the cone idea works!

Photo courtesy of “The Mindful Dose”

Can We Stop With the Minutia Already? Five Big Bang Changes

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Have you noticed that everything’s a health hack nowadays?

For example, leeks are good for detoxing your liver. Throw chia, hemp and flax seeds in your smoothie for heart health.  Recently, I overheard someone say, “I drink my water ice cold because it burns more calories than room temperature water.”  That’s the last straw!  C’mon!   Really?  I’m not saying these things aren’t true, but maybe we’re getting carried away here.  After all, my liver would be helped more if I didn’t drink as much alcohol; my heart would be healthier if I got more cardio; and I’d eat fewer calories if I cut back on that daily crappucino.  Just sayin’.

It reminds me of a Weight Watchers meeting a long time ago when the topic turned to salad dressings; which flavor was the best tasting for the fewest calories, or which brand the least fattening (back when low-fat salad dressing was considered a good thing).  As sometimes happens at meetings, the topic digressed – to the point where the group began sharing tips on measuring salad dressings.

 Finally, the leader got everyone’s attention and said, “Look, People.  I doubt any of us are here in this room because we’re putting too much dressing on our salads.”

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The room became silent.  She was absolutely right.  It’s possible that there was one individual with five pounds to lose who would benefit from this discussion, but it was far more likely that we should focus on the big things:  like our mid-afternoon peanut butter binges (me), our nightly bowls of ice cream, or those donuts on the way home in the car.

This is how our attention gets de-railed sometimes.

We focus on the minutia, rather than taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture. The little things matter, but if you want to make a change, it might as well have a larger impact.  If I had to pick my top five, here they are:

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1.  Drink less alcohol.  I’m not even going to suggest drinking NO alcohol because then no one would subscribe to my blog anymore, and all my friends would call me a hypocrite!  But let’s be honest with ourselves; we’re not drinking wine for its anti-oxidants.  My new rule is to only drink when I’m out; no drinking at home.  It’s doable, and it’s in the right direction.

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2.  Eat foods that have 5 ingredients or less.  Better yet, don’t eat any food that needs a label!  With the exception of eggs, oil and nuts, if it has a label, avoid it entirely.

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3.  Get your sleep. Research has proven that 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal for health.  If you have a hard time sleeping, try to figure out the root cause, rather than pop over-the-counter sleeping pills.  It could be pointing to a larger problem.  Talk honestly with your doctor about it.  You might need some yoga!

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4.  Get rid of everyday sugar. Sugar sneaks into everything we eat and drink nowadays.  Even those supposedly healthy Naked drinks have a surprising amount of sugar!  Then go ahead an enjoy a splurge, but only once a week.  I love a dark, rich, chocolate dessert.  I never waste my dessert on an Oreo or some store-bought goodie.  I save it for the real thing, and enjoy every bit of it.

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5.  Drink water. Water is SO good for you; here’s a link to why:  http://bit.ly/1cbimUl   Ideally, drink half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.  (If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water per day.)  Have even more if you exercise a lot.  In other words, carry a big water bottle with you every day. I doubt that it matters if it’s hot or cold; just drink it!  😉

 

Is Your Exercise Stressing You Out?

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 Maybe there’s a reason it’s called “Insanity!”

One of my favorite things is taking a group cardio class, and catching everyone in the mirror in perfect synch with the music.  I love that!  I get a rush when there’s a great bass line thumping away, pumping everyone up.  I still get a rush out of high-intensity cardio like kickboxing.   I love a good cardio workout.  I’m one of those chicks who whoops and hollers when it all gets flowing.

However, rather than relieving stress levels, as most people think, those types of high-intensity workouts might be increasing your stress levels.

According to Holistic Health Practitioner Paul Chek, the body perceives high-intensity aerobic exercise as a stressor.  To a certain extent, that’s a very good thing.  That’s how you get stronger.  But if that’s the only kind of exercise you get, then you’re actually putting your body into a chronic state of stress, activating the sympathetic nervous system, or the fight-or-flight response.  That, in turn, increases the body’s cravings for starchy carbohydrates, sugar in particular!  Furthermore, that exercise could be slowing down your metabolism because of all the increased stress.   (It’s a cruel world, isn’t it?)

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What can you do?

Chek says that we need to balance our work OUTs with work INs! 

Working IN would be something like deep breathing, massage, yoga, Pilates, or his favorite, Tai Chi.   Those types of exercise help the body slow down, relax, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.  That speeds up metabolism.  (For example, did you ever hear your stomach growl when you’re getting a massage, but you know you just ate?  That’s why.)  You’re finally calm enough for your body to start digesting normally again.

So be sure to mix up your exercise.  If you like to spin until the wheels burn off the bike, try out yoga and see what happens.  If you’re the type of person who says,”Yoga would drive me CRAZY,” then you’d benefit the most.  Really.

So try out a work IN this week, and let me know what happens!  You might like it!  Mikey did!

Is Your Body a Bank Account, Or a Chemistry Lab?

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Like so many people, I’ve had a complicated relationship with food.

As a teenager in the 70’s, I remember my well-respected pediatrician writing down the simple formula for weight loss on a little sheet  of paper: “One gram of carbohydrates
has 4 calories, one gram of protein has 4 calories, and one gram of fat has 9 calories.  So eliminate fat, and you’ll lose weight.”  Wow!  That sounded so easy! And I was good at
math. So I tried it.
“Thus began the calorie-counting, fat-free, processed food era of my life.”
In my mind, I associated dieting with self-deprivation, so I began looking for caloric
“bargains.” It was just like the doctor said; if the food said “fat-free,” it was way
lower in calories.  If it was lower in calories, that meant I could eat more of it and
avoid being hungry!  If it said “sugar-free” AND “fat-free,” I could eat even more!
Over time, I was no longer eating to satisfy hunger or to nourish my body.  It was all about scouring the labels and bargain-hunting (calorie-wise) for the lowest-calorie food.  I had completely lost touch with whether or not I was hungry.
Weren’t we all playing the same game?
This rather disjointed view of food continued into adulthood.  All three times I was pregnant, I gained a whopping 50 pounds. After all, I was eating for two, so I felt entitled to more food.  It was good for the baby, wasn’t it?  (I must have forgotten that one of us only weighed a few ounces!)  In order to lose the weight after each pregnancy, I would start counting things again – sometimes food exchanges
(remember those?), sometimes points, and sometimes calories.  But as soon as
I stopped counting, measuring, or else inevitably started cheating the system,
the weight would start to sneak back on.  Looking back, I see that I was treating my body like a bank account, counting debits in (food) and credits out (exercise).
For the record, counting calories isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that method backfired on me, and perhaps it backfired on others as well. Yes, counting calories can be a very successful method for weight loss.  Research does show that when people start writing down their food, they begin to eat less simply because the act of writing makes them more aware of what they’re eating.  I get it.  And it’s absolutely true.
But as I learned more about nutrition, I knew I was eating way too many chemicals and processed foods.  The media started to report that fat was GOOD for you, and that it was necessary to eat it.  But I still wouldn’t “splurge” for it, calorie-wise.  Everything was
sugar-free, fat-free and processed. Deep down, I knew that wasn’t a healthy way to eat.
I wasn’t paying enough attention to the quality of the food I was eating.
I don’t know how or when it finally dawned on me what my mistake was;
IT’S NOT ABOUT MY WEIGHT, AND IT NEVER WAS.
In the end, it’s about HEALTH.
THE HUMAN BODY IS MORE LIKE A CHEMISTRY LAB THAN A BANK ACCOUNT.
 It’s all about the QUALITY of the food and how it interacts with the body.
That’s when I made a shift in my eating habits.
The shift is that now I look for nutrition bargains instead of caloric bargains! I look for the food that has the most nutrients per serving instead of the least calories.  Wow!  What a concept!
One by one, I changed each meal around:  coffee and a veggie omelet for breakfast, using coconut oil in the pan; a salad with chicken or fish, some nuts and FULL-FAT dressing (GASP)!  Snack is my splurge – usually a high-protein Quest bar.  Dinner has 2 hot veggies and some lean protein again.  And wine sometimes.  And I thoroughly enjoy a gooey chocolate dessert once a week.
I feel so much better now.  No more counting, no sweet cravings, no energy dips, and no frustration over the scale anymore.  It takes care of itself now because I’m eating much more nutrient-dense food.  My food and I now have a healthier relationship.
Does calorie-counting work well for you?  Or did you have a similar experience to mine?

5 Things I’ve Learned From Mindful Eaters

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About ten years ago, when my kids were little, we brought them to Disney World and had dinner at the “50’s Drive-in Diner” style restaurant.  At the end of the meal, I was horrified when the waitress gave all five of us “Clean Plate Club” stickers.

Yes.  That’s right.  All 5 of us got the stickers.  That was a long time ago, and as a family, we’ve learned a lot of lessons about healthy eating since then.

I took a long, hard look at our eating habits.   Why did I eat so fast, and eat up every bit of food that on my plate?  And how did I manage to set that example to my sons?

It probably stems from being the youngest of 8 kids, and whoever got to the food first simply had more to eat.  But that was decades ago!  I’m not that little kid elbowing my way through a bunch of older siblings for food anymore.  I know that I’m going to eat again in a few hours, so why do I stuff myself full?

I started noticing how some of my naturally thinner friends ate.  They seemed to pay more attention to what they ate.  They didn’t just gobble the food down quickly.  They “savored the flavor.”  And in the end, they usually ate less.  Hmmm.  Maybe there’s something more to it.

Here are some of the things that I’ve noticed that these “mindful eaters” do differently:

1)  Mindful eaters are fussy.  If they don’t really like it, they don’t eat it – as if they’re picky kids.  It has to be “worth it” for them to eat anything.  They don’t waste their appetite on food that’s just so-so.  They don’t eat it just because it’s there, like the leftover peanut butter and jelly crusts off their kids’ plates.  (Takes one to know one!)

2)  Mindful eaters don’t keep eating until they’re “full.”  They only eat until they’re satisfied, or until their hunger is gone.  They know that they’ll eat again in a few hours.

3)  Mindful eaters eat slowly.  We live in such a stressed-out society that we even apply that mindset to eating.  But mindful eaters engage in the conversation, and enjoy the entire mealtime experience.  One of my friends says that’s how her parents taught her how to make conversation at the dinner table – she was taught to put the fork down between every bite, engage in the conversation, and then pick up the fork again.  (PS – She wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes in my home!)

4)  Mindful eaters are forgiving and flexible.  Once in a while, they overeat.  But they don’t waste time beating themselves up the next day.  They say, “That was delicious, but I overdid it.”  Then the next day, they eat a little less.  They skip the self-recrimination and judgment.  They don’t say, “Well, I’ve ruined my diet, so I’ll just throw in the towel now.”   They just move forward.

5)  Mindful eaters just eat.  They sit down and pay attention to what they’re eating, rather than multi-tasking or just grabbing food in a rush and eating it while standing over the sink. They use more of their senses:  they observe how the food is served, they taste and smell the food, and then they savor the flavor.

Many times it’s not about WHAT you eat, but about HOW you eat.  Being a mindful eater is not as easy as it sounds, but it can make a profound impact on your eating habits.  Try just one of these mindful eating tips for a week, and let me know how you make out.

Healthy Weight-Loss Habits That You Can Start Today

IMG_At Counter With Fruit1

Those who know me have followed my weight loss journey.  As a teenager, I did crazy fad diets with 20-pound gains and losses.  Then 3 pregnancies with 50-pound weight gains, followed by 50-pound weight losses with Weight Watchers.  Although I maintain my weight now by eating Paleo, I still incorporate a lot of habits that I learned as a Weight Watcher member.  Below are some of the most successful and healthiest weight-loss habits that have worked for me.

1.  Eat nothing after dinner.  Let’s face it; nobody eats anything healthy after dinner!  It’s usually empty calories like chips, or sweets, or drinks.  You can keep your hands busy by painting your nails or knitting.  Bleach your teeth with whitening strips at night to stop the sweet cravings.  Or just go to bed!  Then you’ll wake up hungrier, and eat your normal, healthy breakfast.  This is how my brother started his 107-pound weight loss journey!  This is a great habit to start with.

2.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Put away the candy dishes!  Studies show that if you can see the food, you’re much more likely to eat it.  The reverse works as well.  Try keeping healthy snack foods, like carrots and hummus, or cut-up fruit, at eye level in the fridge.  That way if you open the fridge looking for something to eat, the healthy stuff appears right before your eyes.

3.  Carry a huge bottle of water with you.  Not only is drinking water good for you, but it will make you get up more often to use the bathroom.  (Hey, every little bit counts!)  I’ve even used this habit to make deals with myself:  “I’ll let myself have ________ as soon as I finish one more bottle of water.”  Nine times out of ten, I forget all about it!

4.  Enjoy it, but just one serving.  If you already ate one serving of it, you know exactly what another bite of it will taste like.  If you’re still unsatisfied, allow yourself seconds of vegetables only.  Keep the serving dish on the counter rather than at the table.  That way you’re not staring at the dish, and if you want seconds, you’ll have to get up from the table to get it.

5.  Try the “no white at night” rule.  Rather than bread, pasta, rice or potatoes, try to have both a salad and a hot vegetable with dinner instead. Some people find that cutting themselves off from starchy carbohydrates at a certain time of day, say 3:00, is helpful. It’s not that this type of food metabolizes any differently at certain times of day;  the idea is to avoid those empty calories at the meal when most people pile them on.

6.  Have a fruit or vegetable with every meal.  At breakfast, you can have some berries, or mix some peppers and onions in with your omelette.  Lunch could include a salad or an apple.  Dinner could include a hot vegetable.  This habit displaces your appetite for other, less healthy foods.

7.  How about an afternoon veggie shake?  The protein will help with the afternoon energy slump, and the veggies will fill you up.  Click here for Precision Nutrition’s guide to making healthy shakes:  http://bit.ly/1yKQIu4

8.  Pack a healthy snack in your car or purse with you before you leave the house.  That way, if you’re stuck on the road without any healthy options, you’re ready.  My favorites are snack packs of nuts from Trader Joe’s or Quest Protein Bars from GNC (no, they don’t pay me to say that!).

 9.  Keep a big batch of vegetable soup handy. This recipe is famous among successful Weight Watchers:  http://bit.ly/1IYJRzn  It will fill you up for lunch, snack, or dinner time.  Yummy, nutritious, and very low-cal!

10.  Go to bed earlier.  Yes, this one is true.  The body perceives a lack of sleep as stress.  Stress slows down your metabolism and increases your cravings for sweets.  So, if you’d like to lose some weight, make it a habit to get 8 hours of sleep every night.  Black out your room and cover all those digital clocks for a deeper, more restful night’s sleep.

Only pick one idea at a time.  Keep it simple and focused.  As soon as one habit becomes second nature, add another one, building a portfolio of healthier habits over time.

What weight-loss habits do you use?