Tuesday, August 31

Fitness in the Park

I’m taking a break from our usual fare to inform all my local friends about a very exciting event! Gold’s Gym (in Redmond, WA) is hosting Fitness in the Park. On Sunday, September 26 at 10 o’clock in the morning, we’re going to be at Marymoor Park sweating our butts off for charity.

Gold’s is raising money for the Foundation for Community Betterment by offering a sampler of their Gold’s Group Exercise classes (people, I lost 95 pounds doing these classes!), a fitness boot camp and some other fun outdoor goings on!

Suggested donations to register are $20, but those people with large wallets and deep hearts will certainly not be turned away from a greater donation. Check out their site for more details.

Get there early to sign up! I can’t wait—see you on the 26th!

Monday, August 30

Highly Palatable – Part I

After a few previous weeks of pretty willingly giving into temptation, I decided it was time to fully get back onto the wagon (instead of running alongside the wagon so that I didn’t look like I had fallen off, but was intentionally choosing to be where I was). But this weekend was just more than willpower could do for me: pizza, chocolate, munchies and more. I felt bad about my choices, but I couldn’t even muster a decent feeling of guilt—it was all so good!
But it’s Monday and Monday’s a new slate for me. And, I have a new hero: David Kessler. Kessler is a former FDA commissioner and a fellow to our struggle with food. He's done much research and discovery around how we have conditioned ourselves to overeat certain foods.
When we eat highly palatable foods—delicious foods containing fat, sugar and salt—our brains begin to release dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical our brains use to let our bodies know that pleasure is coming (kind of like a neurotransmitter version of “Oh yeah, baby, here it comes!”). Kessler found that those dopamine pathways begin to activate at the mere mention of food. Hear that? You don’t even have the food in front of you, but I could just say “double chocolate brownie” and your brain’s instant response is “Where?” Once you eat that food, your brain starts to release opioids which make you feel that emotional release (also known as endorphins) or a sense of pleasure.
So you’re driving to work and you see Krispy Kreme (or Dunkin' Donuts for my East Coast family). Your hands turn the wheel and you’re at the checkout counter before you know it. You eat one doughnut, and you think to yourself “This was totally worth it.” The one doughnut turns into two doughnuts. Maybe you even justify another doughnut after that, and you weren’t even hungry to begin with.
Kessler strikes it home for me when he says, “I used to think I ate to feel full. Now I know, we have the science that shows, we’re eating to stimulate ourselves.”
I didn’t want this post to be crazy long, so we’ll chat more this week. Until then, check out Kessler’s Washington Post article and his NPR interview. They’re fascinating!

Wednesday, August 25

Gotta Get Some Sleep!

Bleh. I’m totally dragging today. I stayed up way too late last night, and got up way too early this morning. I’ll tell you, I’m so glad this is a day off from the gym for me because I don’t think there’s any way I could drag myself in today.

However, normally, I’m an 8-hours-a-night kind of girl. As it turns out, sleep is super important to not only losing weight but maintaining your weight. Here, let me say it another way: a regular lack of sleep, or low quality sleep, will assist in weight gain!

Not getting a good night’s sleep makes a lot of different things happen in your body. Aside from normal tiredness, your low energy level will make you less active during the day. You’re less likely to fidget (fidgety people can burn 100 or more calories each day!) or take that bike ride or run that normally sounds so nice.

Poor sleep also messes with a lot of hormones in your body—two of which are the hormones in charge of telling your body when you’re hungry and when you’re full. They’re called Leptin and Ghrelin; they’re the chemicals your brain uses to stimulate your apitite when your body needs energy (ghrelin) and trigger that feeling of fullness when you’ve eaten enough (leptin). There’s some fascinating research explained in this WebMD article, but the basic results are that without regular, good sleep your body just produces too much ghreling (making you hungry when you don’t necessarily need the calories) and too little leptin (making you more likely to keep eating even after you’ve eaten enough).

So what lesson did we learn here? Well, I know I’ll be going to be early tonight to catch up on my sleep. How about you? Any plans to change up your sleep habits? Have you noticed differences in the way you eat on tired days?

Sunday, August 22

A Rare Moment

This past Friday was a pretty bad workday. One of those days when you only barely get out of the office at 6pm. I was lucky it was a Friday! Ok, so I have a bad day and what’s my first reaction? Let go out to dinner and get ice cream!

But Friday was one of those rare moments when I caught myself! I’d had a really crappy day at work and I desperately needed some fun, some pleasure and some relaxation. My first reaction is always to turn to food for the things I need. And, you have to admit, food is easy. It’s far easier to go out to eat than sit and think of other ways to meet my emotional , psychological and physical needs. I know! I actually did it this time!

I evaluated how I was feeling and what exactly I needed. Then I started thinking of other ways I could get what I needed. Here are a couple of my ideas:

· Go out dancing with some girlfriends.

· Go see a movie with my husband. (This was Friday’s winner.)

· Go to the mall and do some shopping. (Granted this is just Retail Therapy, but at least it calorie-less.)

· Rent some movies or grab a book and waste the rest of the evening.

· Go to the spa and get a massage.

· Go for a bike ride. (Note, your destination should not be Cold Stone.)

· Call a friend I haven’t spoken with for a while.

You’ll notice that most of my non-food alternatives involve “go” and other people. Your personality may need more of a “stay” and by-yourself kind of alternative. No matter what you prefer, next time you catch yourself turning to food, take the opportunity to evaluate and do some brainstorming. You’ll feel so much better later on than if you give into your normal inclinations. I did!

Thursday, August 19

Lapse and Relapse

Lately I’ve been having a hard time making good decisions. Unfortunately, I compound one bad decision by using it to justify other bad decisions (“Well, I had one peanut butter M&M, so I might as well just eat the whole bag.”). Needless to say, this is not how I should live day to day if I want to keep that 95 pounds off.

There are lapses and then there are relapses. A lapse is a one-time kind of thing, like the moment I chose to eat the peanut butter M&M. Missing a workout or giving into unplanned food choice are lapses.

A relapse is reverting back to old behaviors or, in my case, when I decide to eat the whole bag of peanut butter M&Ms five days in a row. Missing a week’s worth of workouts or making unplanned food choices for several days straight are relapses. The tough thing about a relapse is that sometimes you don’t even realize you’re relapsing until it’s done. The key is to make an immediate choice to get yourself turned back around, because a series of relapses is just you going back to how you used to live.

The best way to help yourself catch any relapses is to give yourself a realistic weight “ceiling.” For me, I tend to hover around 170 to 175 pounds, but 180 is my ceiling. If I notice myself creeping closer and closer to 180, it’s like a yellow light. If I hit that 180, it’s a red right, directly turn around, do not pass go, do not collect $200. After my surgery, I hit that ceiling so I’m working getting back down to my normal weight—but, man, peanut butter M&Ms are just so damn good!

Here are the best ways to help recover from a relapse:

  • Get on the scale. Take responsibility for where you are. NO EXCUSES.
  • Tell someone about it! You should have a community in place to help keep you accountable, but—if you don’t—tell a friend what you’re struggling with and ask them to help keep you accountable.
  • Get back into weight loss mode. Guess what? You have to lose some weight! Can’t do it eating peanut butter M&Ms. Eat smart—get that protein balanced with carbs and heart healthy fats.
  • Remember that the cravings don’t last forever. Only a couple days without sweets and I find that it’s already easier to say “no.”

Wednesday, August 18

Defriend Temptation!

I was playing on Facebook at work today (no, this is not my job), and I was drooling over Trophy Cupcakes newest status update. Trophy is this AMAZING cupcake store down the street. I swear, they have daily status updates, and the cupcakes just look enticing. I say to my coworker, “I’m going to have to defriend Trophy if they keep up the daily updates.” Every time I see their logo, I start drooling!

But the better question is: why haven’t I defriended them yet?! If every time I see an update from Trophy it’s a challenge to not run down the street and buy a cupcake, why in the world do I leave them in my Facebook friends? I think we’re all suckers for punishment. And I think we all put ourselves in a lot of situations—that we don’t necessarily need to be in—that create temptation. Often, temptation we have no intention of resisting.

You’re saying right now, “I don’t do that. Why would I purposefully put temptation in front of me when I’m trying to lose weight?” How about those times we arrive home and plop the mail down on the kitchen counter to go through it. Why do we need to go through the mail in the kitchen? You’re just making yourself hungry being in there! Leave the kitchen and dining room for eating, not for living.

So you walk into your living room and what do you have sitting on your coffee table? A bag of chips? A bowl of candy? Your lunch? Keep the food in your kitchen, not in the rest of your house.

Don’t take the trip to Starbucks with your coworkers, but talk them into walking around the block a time or two to stretch your legs. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Keep some almonds or turkey jerky in your purse for those times you go to the grocery store hungry anyway. Take your kids to the park, not out to ice cream. Ask your husband to go on a bike ride, not out to dinner.

Think about the situations and habits in your life when you put yourself around food or in temptations way… and then change it!

Monday, August 9

Meatless Monday Misguided Move

I was listening to NPR today on my way to work and caught this article: Campaign Aims to Make Meatless Mondays Hip. I think the gentleman behind Meatless Monday is a bit misguided (one woman in the article applauds her healthy meatless meal of tempura—for my East Coast readers, tempura is a Japanese dish of battered and fried vegetables).

Even the sentiment behind the campaign is admirable, but foolishly simple: if we could just get people to make one small change, then somehow that will help make our diets healthier. However, the obesity epidemic in America isn’t the fault of one food or another. Plenty of diets have tried to completely remove fats, sugar, carbohydrate, or specific foods like meat. But, obviously, the elimination of one element of our diet has not proved to be a cure-all.

I think the first step to truly making change happen is to educate people about food: how food works in our bodies, how to combine foods to make them work better, how to make better choices of the foods that surround us.

Monday, August 2

The Dish on Fiber

There’s a whole lot of talk lately about fiber. Several times now, I’ll be preparing my lunch or a snack in the kitchen at work and someone will comment on the fiber in my food. I really haven’t put much thought into fiber previously since I mostly just make sure I’m getting enough veggies in my week. But fiber is all the rage right now.

To start, what is fiber? There are 2 types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber essentially greases your digestive tract (this is where that “regularity” comes from). Think of insoluble fiber like little scrub brushes that keep everything moving. Soluble fiber (meaning it dissolves in water) helps keep your cholesterol and blood sugar low.

It’s easy to find foods with both kinds of fiber. Wheat, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables are all high in insoluble fiber. Oats, citrus fruits, carrots, peas and beans are high in soluble fiber.

In addition to fiber’s effect on your digestive tract and cholesterol, it has another benefit that seems to be the source for fiber’s popularity right now. Fiber takes longer for your body to digest (like protein) which, therefore, helps to reduce your hunger throughout the day.

If you’re having trouble with hunger mid-morning or mid-afternoon, try combining the powers of fiber and protein! Have a spinach and chicken salad for lunch, or a shredded wheat and cottage cheese for breakfast. Just make sure to not replace your protein with fiber. Fiber alone might help you fight hunger, but fiber is usually found in foods that are higher in carbohydrates. If you were just to have an orange for a snack, there are many more carbs than fiber and you’ll be hungry again in half an hour.

Be smart about how you get fiber in your diet, and fiber can be a small addition to make a big difference.

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