Friday, December 7, 2012

Do something Friday -- Priorities

Hi, all!

It's with very mixed emotions that I am here to tell you this will be the last post for the Eating Coach blog.  After just under 1000 posts, it's time for me to pull back and retool a little bit.

We've talked before about the importance of priorities and recognizing competing responsibilities in our lives -- how sometimes active weight lose needs to be put in the back seat because life happens and something else takes the front seat -- well...that's where I find myself.  These days, I am doing a LOT more social media posting for my Fitness Center** and for the Borgess Athletic Performance blog.  All of that is keeping me HOPPING!

I appreciate all of you spending time with me!  It has been fun to connect with you!  I hope you've gotten value out of some of the posts I've written :)

If you're interested, I'll still be around.  I'm thinking I will reactivate my other blog after the holidays but won't be committing to post there everyday-- just when I find things that are interesting (to me at least).

I wish you all a super Holiday Season with friends, family, and yes....great food (mindfully eaten)!


**I don't sign my posts for the FC but because you know me so well by now, I bet you'll be able to guess which ones are mine :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bad Things Happen

Even though we struggle to doing the right things....all the time...effortlessly...sometimes we drop the ball.

Or the ball gets knocked out of our hands by well meaning friends, getting sick, a wonderful new promotion, baby, or some other unexpectedness that life throws at us.

The train goes off the rails despite our best of intentions.

"Yet we mend. And then we can look back and laugh, smile, and think of all those little things that seemed like errors…but somehow, they were seeds for smiles we hadn’t yet recognized."

We live through the situations that test us.  We learn.  We find new and better ways to deal so next time something similar happens, we have skills to draw on (and we start the whole cycle over again).

We are meant to struggle because we'd never evolve as people without the struggle.  I know you probably don't count your weight as the blessing that it is but maybe you should.  You're learning and growing (seriously, don't make that face....I meant emotionally growing and you know it ;)

Embrace the struggle and the lessons you learn -- they mean you're alive!  And, especially this time of year, we should be grateful for all of our blessings....not just the ones that come easy.

**the quote is from Erika's Thanksgiving post -- no swearing in this one although the title may give you pause.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Exercising for the Right Reasons

Here's one of the better explainations of exercise I've ever read -- hope you enjoy1!

Are You Exercising for the Right Reasons?

When most people set out to get some exercise, it's for one reason: to look better. Whether our end goal is weight loss, toning up, or building muscle, we tend to be motivated to exercise by external benefits. However, recent research on willpower hints that this external focus may be counterproductive to our overall success.

The theory is this: Our willpower is an exhaustible resource; we have a certain amount, but it does get used up over the course of the day. Think of it as a bank account that you tap into, as you try to make choices that differ from what you really want to do in order to achieve your weight loss goals:

Order the skinny latte instead of the regular with whip, 10 willpower points.

Eat your home-packed lunch instead of hitting the drive-through, 15 willpower points.

Snack on an apple rather than a bag of chips from the vending machine, 20 willpower points.

It may not take long to end up with a low balance in your willpower bank account, and not have enough energy to resist that tub of ice cream calling your name. And here's the rub: Some researchers speculate that exercising for external reasons only—that is, to lose weight—taps into your willpower bank account much more than exercising for internal reasons, such as relieving stress.

You've probably witnessed this happening. Consider the friend who orders dessert because she "earned it" by going to step class, for example. It's this type of self-sabotage that derails weight loss, no matter how good your intentions.

The trick is to find those internal motivations to exercise, so you actually want to do it, regardless of the external outcomes. Working out should be something you do to be happy, not skinny.

Of course, we've all heard that in order to be consistent with exercise, we should find something we actually enjoy doing. What goes unsaid, however, is that when you first try something, you aren't very good at that thing, so it likely won't be enjoyable. Someone who loves yoga probably didn't love it from day one, when she was awkwardly fumbling through poses that seemed foreign and odd. So, as you try different activities, I recommend focusing on internal benefits like these:

1. Exercise makes you a happier person. This is because our bodies go through a hormonal change when we pump up our heart rate. We burn cortisol, the stress hormone, and release endorphins, the happy hormones.

2. Exercise makes you smarter. Research suggests people who are fit may have higher IQs. Even sedentary folks show a boost in brain performance after an exercise session, and people do better on some aspects of critical thinking immediately after working out.

3. Exercise boosts confidence. "Feeling fat" is commonplace in our society, and it's also destructive—it hurts body image, decreases self-esteem, and can even provoke further weight gain. Research indicates exercise can help boost self-confidence, helping us feel more comfortable in our own skin. Exercise can mean the difference between "feeling fat" and "feeling curvy"—which would you rather feel?

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Thought for the Day...

Everyone faces defeat. It may be a stepping-stone or a stumbling block, depending on the mental attitude with which it is faced. --Napoleon Hill

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ahhhh....That was a great night!!

Think back to the last time you said that about a night or event.  Wedding, dinner with friends, quiet dinner at home....whatever the situation, take a minute and think about that great night.  Feel the contentment, excitement, fun.

Now think about the food that surrounded that event -- can you remember what you ate?  maybe.

But was it the food that made the evening?  Or was it the people that stick in your memory?  Which one makes you smile most?

I bet it's the people.

Think about that next time you feel compelled to fill up your plate in the buffet line.

Put your energy and attention on the things that matter -- that it what the season is all about.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why don't we start?

"Maybe it's high ...time I had this conversation with myself.  Why do I, in the presences of everything I need, not start something?" --Erika Napoletano 

Ok -- I'm taking the quote above in another direction entirely from the one the author meant -- this is just a disclaimer so y'all know that up front.  Usually, I would link the post it came from but due to the language in that post, (and bowing to "discretion is the better part of valor") I'm not going to today.  Feel free to Google it though, as I enjoy much of what she writes (although, consider yourself warned if you have a low foul language tolerance!)

So...back to my take on the quote above.

Why do we not start?  Why do we put it off until Monday or New Year's Day or the first of the Month or.....never?

What makes us so scared of trying?  Because we haven't been successful in the past?  Or at least successful on this particular weight loss mission, anyway.  I work with highly successful people EVERY DAY who feel unsuccessful because of their weight.

I talk to people everyday who are afraid to throw caution to the wind and start something today.  And then get up tomorrow and start something tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next day......

That's all weight loss is.  Continual starting.

Just because one meal (or one day) doesn't go the way you intended, it doesn't negate the imperative to start again -- as soon as you realize you've gone off the rails.  And we know this, right?  So what stops us from starting again?

May it is time to have that conversation with yourself -- because that right there, the ability to start again right away -- is what separates those who successfully manage their weight over a lifetime and those who struggle.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Season of Excess

I've gone off before on how blessed we are, how much stuff (and food) we have, yada, yada, yada....

It bothers me -- this excess.  It bothers me that we rush through life and miss some of the important parts because we're dealing with other parts that are not important...just urgent.

Potato chips are like that -- not important.  How many times have you given in to the temptation to eat chips only to be delights...I mean DELIGHTED!!!--  by your calorie investment?  Once....maybe?

But the craving for chips is urgent -- we see them (or a commercial about them) and we want them.  Or we just see them sitting on the end of the deli counter and we pick them up -- because Lord knows a 6 inch sub isn't enough food to keep us fueled for the next 4 hours (let alone the "foot long" that is the better least money wise).

Most brownies (in my experience) are like that too.  The craving is loud, urgent, repetitive.  But most of them don't deliver on taste (or maybe the first 3 bites do but we eat the rest because it's there...calling urgently for us to diligently finish it).

The chips and the brownies (and even the extra 6 inches of our foot long sub) take us away from what's really important -- our health, our contentment with our bodies, our piece of mind.

All those extras....those "treats" that in reality we have every day....are too much.  They are physically too much when are blood sugar goes up beyond our body's ability to regulate it (pre-diabetes/diabetes).  When our pants are too tight.  When our stomach feels uncomfortably full.  When we just want to lay down and take a nap (3pm during a work day, anyone?  Who hasn't felt that before?)

And everything I've just talked about happens most days of the year -- we haven't even touched on the potlucks, parties, treat days, thanks you's, and everything else that goes along with the 6 week (only roughly 12% of our year) Holiday Season we've just entered into.

So the question becomes -- what are you going to do different this year?  It's time to make your commitment -- to yourself, to your family, to making the world a better place by appreciating and observing the Important and putting the urgent in its place.  This doesn't have to be a season of excess for you -- it can be a peaceful season of observing and engaging the Important.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Thought for the Day...

Illness is the doctor to whom we pay most heed; to kindness, to knowledge, we make promises only; pain we obey. --Marcel Proust

But it doesn't have to be that way....KSW

Friday, November 23, 2012

Do something Friday

Alright!  I hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving!  Now it's time to get back on track with the eating habits that will keep you in the same size pants all the way through the New Year!

To help with this, I'm putting together 31 days of eating tips to help us stay on track -- but you can't get them here.

Because they are including MUCH more than just mindful eating tips, I've decided to put them on the FC's Facebook page.  So head on over there and "like" us to get them delivered to your news feed.  These tips start December 1 -- so you'd better get the lead out!

And I know....not all y'all are on Facebook :(  It makes me sad too!  But I encourage you to think about taking the time to figure out how it works -- we post a lot of great information, fun pics of what's going on here, and motivational thoughts for keeping you moving and feeling strong!  Totally worth it, in my book!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Do you love green bean casserole 3 times as much as you like green beans?

Well, do you?  This is an important question because it is very likely you will run into this dilemma tomorrow.

And why 3x as much, you may ask?  Because green bean casserole has 3x's the calories than regular green beans.  If you love it that much -- it's totally worth it.  If you don't, here an opportunity to cut back on your holiday calorie intake.

Me?  I can easily do without green bean casserole.

I can pass up the pumpkin pie too -- but not the homemade, real whipping cream.  So I have some of that on a plate....without the pie.

Salad tomorrow?  I don't think so.  I can have a salad any day of the week -- unlike stuffing.  Or the fruit salad that has dates, maraschino cherries, and some other stuff (that obviously isn't as important to me as the dates and cherries) all held together with more whipping cream (NOT Cool Whip).  That's on my plate, for sure!

Tomorrow isn't real eating (thank goodness!).  It's holiday eating - which means you can pick and choose.  You don't have to eat your veggies.  You don't have to clean your plate.  You can eat dessert first (unless your mom's watching).

Practice eating what you like, taking the time to taste it, and most importantly, being mindful of the company your keeping -- it's not often the focus of our day gets to be spending a meal with those we love.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Passive Consumption

Have you ever thought about how passive we are?  For working as hard as we all do, we certainly have made up for it in our passive pursuits.
TV watching time (at least for those non-Millennials of us) is way up.  We watch what's on and flip channels to make sure we're not missing something good (which is pretty unlikely because there isn't that much "good" TV no matter how many channels we have on our cable package).  We watch whatever is put in front of us.
And many of us eat whatever is put in front of us -- and not in the polite way our mom's all taught us!  It's not because someone is offering us a piece of "delicious", homemade fruitcake and we don't want to hurt their feelings -- we're eating whatever happens to cross our paths.
Yesterday's meeting doughnuts left on the break table.  Cubes of cheese from the potluck 4 hours ago.  Drive-thru "snack wrap".  Candy from the bank.  Sample of something you wouldn't buy in the first place but you eat just because you're waiting for your deli order to be filled. 
We're not making active decisions here -- we're just reverting to the stage of infancy were anything that crosses our paths goes in our mouths.  It might be cute for a 9 month old (and it really is the way they learn about their world) but we're grownups.  We don't need (and indeed aren't) learning anything from the experience of all those extra bites.
It's time to mature past this stage -- it's no longer serving our development (indeed many of us have "developed" more than we need to ;)
Food is everywhere -- especially this time of year (but pretty much all times of the year now days).  Passive consumption only happens when you're on autopilot.  Start being more mindful and you'll notice these tendencies BEFORE the food makes it all the way to your mouth.  And once that happens -- weight loss here you come!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thought for the Day...

How we feel about ourselves, the joy we get from living, ultimately depends directly on how the mind filters and interprets everyday experiences.  Whether we are happy depends on inner harmony, not on the controls we are able to expert over the great forces of the universe. --Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Friday, November 16, 2012

Do something Friday

We don't mean to get stressed this time of year....or at least I don't.  We don't mean to yell at our spouse because they've left a mess in the bathroom or at the kids for wearing their shoes in the house.  We just get focused on other things: the shopping, the cleaning, the preparing for a house full of Thanksgiving guests.

...and we forget what's really important.

I don't know if you've been following the 30 Days of Thankfulness we've been doing over that the BHFC Facebook site but I gotta tell you, know one to date has turned in a statement saying they are thankful for a clean house or a skinny body. 

We're thankful for our health, our family, our friends, maybe our job (or any job, really).

Keep that in mind as you go about your upcoming week.  Be mindful of what's really important to you.

You may be thankful for being able to have food on your table -- but I bet you're not all that thankful for the giant sundae you're using to self-medicate your stress away.

It's never about the food -- it's about what joys the food can bring us (or the numbing we may get while we eat) -- remember that and you may be less inclined to stuff yourself and more inclined to gather joy from the things that really matter to you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Those little, mindless bites add up.....

Check this out:

 Elana Zimelman, RD, LD, CDE at the Cooper Institute takes a look at how 7 "little nibbles" add up to unwanted pounds: (the comments in italics are mine....)

Taste 1: Cookie Bite You woke up early this morning to bake some holiday cookies for the office. There’s a very small broken piece that came off the baking sheet. You don’t want to throw it away so you have a bite. One broken piece of a cookie = 30 calories!

Taste 2: Gingerbread Latte Taste
On your way to work, you stop by your favorite coffee shop to get a boost of caffeine. You’re planning to order a medium cup of coffee, but at the counter, you can’t help but notice some enticing samples. You taste the tiny cup of gingerbread latte topped with a dollop of whipped cream. A 1 oz sample cup = 25 calories! (seriously -- 1 oz.?  That's a medicine cup)

Taste 3: Brownie Nibble
Next to the latte samples, the seasonal peppermint brownie sample is staring you in the face. You don’t plan to buy a whole brownie so why not take a little nibble! One nibble = 37 calories!

Taste 4: Handful of M&M’s
After you set down the cookies in the employee break room, you walk past your co-worker’s desk and there sits a glass bowl of holiday M&M’s. You try to resist, but you give in to the temptation and those 13 M&M’s = 56 calories! (I'm pretty sure I've never eating 13 M&M's and'd be back later that day for sure....very likely a couple times -- course, later in the afternoon, I'd have to wait until she when to the bathroom so she didn't know I was back)
Taste 5: Cashew Cluster
Later in the afternoon, you take a water break and pass by a dish of mixed nuts. You pick out your favorite, the cashews, and try to count out just six. Six cashew halves = 51 calories! (did you notice it said cashew HALVES?)
Taste 6: Cheese and Crackers
After work, you head over to the grocery store. You have just a few items to pick up. You need to buy some fresh vegetables and you pass the cheese counter on your way to the broccoli. There’s a table set out with gourmet cheese and crackers. That one bite cheese cube and cracker = 71 calories! (one BITE)

Taste 7: Pumpkin Ale
You have one more stop to go and pass by the beer and wine aisle. There is a tasting of several kinds of beer and ale. You want to try the pumpkin ale—just a little sip: 2 oz. = 30 calories!

By now, you have consumed an extra 300 calories that you didn’t plan on eating. You would have to walk briskly for about one hour and 15 minutes to burn that off!

And that, my friends, is why it pays to be mindful of what your sticking in your mouth -- not just during the holidays but as a lifestyle.  Keep working on it!  --KSW

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Protecting yourself from the things you fear

"How much of your time and effort goes into protecting yourself from the things you fear?
And how much is spent serving your muse and your tribe and your potential?"  --Seth Godin

I see fear a lot.  Fear of pain.  Of my gym.  Of what people might think.  Of what people think of themselves.  We live in an age of fear.  The media plays on it -- so do those that want to keep us healthy.

Some fear is helpful -- fear can motivate us to change (change never happens when we're comfortable).

Too much fear is paralyzing -- and thus, the complete opposite of helpful.

The tricky thing about fear is that it needs to be acknowledged......but part two of that is being able to put it in it's place and more forward even though we are afraid.  And sometimes, I think we forget to do the second part of that.

Fear will always be with us if we are moving forward.  Moving forward is, by definition, moving into the unknown -- and that's scary.

So it's not a matter of getting rid of the fear, it's a matter of moving forward even though you're scared.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Passing the Flame

The other day, I found myself at a concert dedicated to the memory of a local music teacher.  One of the teacher's former students spoke of  the venerated instructor "passing the flame" of his love of music to numerous students through the years he taught.

Passing the flame.....that phrase struck me as a beautiful image.  Illuminating the darkness with knowledge and passion is an image that is familiar to many of us -- especially this time of year.

My original thoughts upon hearing this phrase were along the lines of "what if we all could pass the flame of eating habits ... wouldn't the world be a better place?"

But then I realized, I was wrong.  We don't need more people passing the flame of eating habits -- because right now every one of us passes the flame of our behaviors everyday.

Whether you make a conscious choice about it or not, you are influencing other peoples eating behaviors -- you are passing the flame.

I know I've been harping on this a lot lately but I'm seeing the results EVERYWHERE!  Childhood obesity (we're not talking husky jeans -- we're talking OBESE with Type 2 diabetes and high blood children!!!) is way up.  Our adult waistelines are growing (literally everyday!)  The diet industry is booming (but we're not getting our money's worth there....even when we buy the books, DVDs, pre-packaged meals...we are still needing to buy bigger pants!)

There are lines at the drive thrus on my way to work EVERY morning.

Sugar consumption is WAY up!

We are in the middle of a public health crisis of our own making.  Decision by decision we are actively shorting our life expectancy (and that of our children).

But the good news (the great news actually!) is we don't have to continue on this path.  We can learn to say "Not right now" to ourselves and feel great about it.  We can learn to build activity into our lives so it becomes inescapable.

We can chose to eat food that tastes good even though it is less convenient to obtain.

We can get ourselves back on track the same way we went off the rails -- one decision at a time.

What's all it takes.  Which direction is your next decision going to take you?

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Thought for the Day...

"In any given week I bet I hear the phrase, "I fell off the wagon", at least 5 times.

Makes me think the folks who are uttering it are on the wrong wagon.

If your goal is simply to do your best, there's really never any need to fall off any moving objects.

Sure, you might for various reasons make nutritionally or calorically frightening choices, but so long as you asked yourself those two ever important questions, "Is it worth it", and, "How much do I need to be happily satisfied", there can't be a wrong choice.

Sometimes your best may be a basket of chicken wings but perhaps a smaller basket than normal and one less beer, or a fancy coffee with whip just ordered less frequently, or Chinese take out minus the calorie-insane General Tsao's staple, or a bowl of ice-cream instead of a pint, or a small bag of chips rather than the giant bag, or a full-sized chocolate bar rather than a Blizzard.

What I'm getting at is that sometimes we make choices that are less than ideal, but that so long as you've made your best worst choice, you're still doing great!"  --Yoni Freedhoff

Friday, November 9, 2012

Do something Friday

Election Day is over and now we are heading full force into the Holiday Season ( one writer put it, the Season of know it's true!)

If you find yourself stressed, busy, and perennially munching, perhaps it's time to institute some food-free zones in your life.  These zones are designed to eliminate the need to make food choices (think about it like a chewing time-out).

Here are my top food-free zones:

1. The Car -- there's NO reason to eat in your car.  30,000 people die in car accidents.  Eating (much like texting) is a distraction!  Your health AND safety can be improved by not eating in the car.

2. In front of the TV -- there is NO way you can eat mindfully if you are watching TV.  Just stop.

3. Your desk.  You need to the break.  Take 10 minutes to get up and walk to some place else to eat.  Don't eat and catch up on email -- again, you're not eating mindfully.  Concentrating on the food you're eating is hard work -- you'll eat less because you don't have the attention span to eat more!

Think for a minute about how many things you wouldn't eat if you couldn't eat in these three zones.  If these zones account for 9 bites of food per day, eliminating these zone bites will help you lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week without changing any other behaviors!

What about you?  Which zones do you find trigger you to eat?  Click on the comment button at the bottom of this post and share your thoughts!! (If you're reading this via email, click here to go to the blog to comment)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Weight Control 101 -- Holiday Edition

Here (at the best fitness center in the world), we work hard to make sure our members are getting the support, education, and practical tools to help them manage their weight and improve their health over a life time.

One of the ways we do that is to connect them with health professionals versed in multi-disciplinary weight management techniques four times a month.  The program is called Weight Control 101.  Heather (our dietician), Jen (from Athletic Performance), myself, and a handful of others work with our members to help them get a handle on the research and practical aspects of this sometimes overwhelming topic.

Next Monday, Jen's got a special program all lined up. 

Weight Control 101 will be focusing on how to effectively navagate the holidays with strategies, tools, tips, and practical application.  Part lecture and part dig in and do -- you leave with a pile of resources and a personalized plan to successfully navagate the Season of Eating.

Feel free to join us Monday, November 12 at 9.30a or 5.30p in Classroom 4  (The session will last about an hour)  You don't need to register and there is no charge -- how can you say no to that??

I can't wait to see you here!


Not sure where we are? walk in the double doors.

View Larger Map
If you park at the North entrance, Classroom 4 is on your left just as you enter the double doors!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Politics, Common Sense, and Food Recommendations

I just read an interesting essay by Gary Taubes (of Why We Get Fat and What to Do about It fame).  The article goes into the history of food policy as it relates to sugar.  It's a long bit of web reading but if you're interested in that kind of thing (which I am -- always up for a good conspiracy theory!) it's interesting.

After reading the whole article (and a couple of Gary's other books that talk about the politics of food recommendations), it all comes back to -- you can't trust the government.  Sorry to disabuse you of this notion but near as I can tell, the government's job is to serve the masses.  And the mass need is much different than your needs as an individual. 

That's not to say the government doesn't do you any good -- police, fire, clean water, roads that are in good (or at least passable) condition -- the government does that for all of us -- and I for one appreciate it!

But -- when it comes to food recommendations, the USDA is a political organization.  Its recommendations are influenced by special interest groups, senators, congressmen, and industry pressures.  Remember the Food Industry is a highly profitable industry (click here and here if you are a numbers person!) --and we know how government works!  Those with money can use it to buy a bigger voice.  The USDA is not immune.

So if the government does not have your back (or waistline) on this, what should you do??

Use your common sense.

We eat too much sugar -- you need to look no farther than our national diabetes rates (and the fact that it has climbed from 2.5% of the American population in 1980 to 6.8% in 2010).

We overeat -- more often than not -- you need to look no farther than our national obesity rates (15% of the US population in 1980 and 35.7% in 2010).

We are smart enough to get these HUGE health problems under control -- but we're going to have to think (be mindful) of our eating behaviors until we change our environment enough that it supports our health.  This is something each of us needs to do for ourselves (and each other).  It's not something the government can (or will) do for us!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mindless eating adds up

Just a quick refresher with some facts that influence our food consumption.  Just a few environmental changes in our homes can make a big difference in how easy (or difficult) it is to overeat:

  • Moving from a 12-inch to a 10-inch dinner plate leads people to serve and eat 22% less.

  • A person will eat an average of 92% of any food they serve themselves.  --serve yourself less!

  • The average person makes an excess of 250 decisions about food each day. --plenty of room for a few improvements!

  • Low-fat labels lead people to eat 16-23% more total calories.  --hmmmm, food that doesn't tastes as good but we eat more of it??  Not really what we were going for!

  • The Nutritional Gatekeeper of a home influences an estimated 72% of all of the food their family eats.  --what you bring home matters!!

  • Because of visual illusions, people (even Philly bartenders) pour 28% more into a short wide glasses than tall ones.  --we are NOT good at "eye-balling portions or calories estimates.  Unless you're weighing or measuring, almost everyone will underestimate the amount they eat!

  • 50% of the snack food bought in bulk (such as at a warehouse club store) is eaten within six days of purchase.  --buy less -eat less.  Buy smaller -- be smaller.
  • Friday, November 2, 2012

    Do something Friday

    Treat yourself.....that's what the sign across the street from my building said.  Interestingly enough, it wasn't the Dairy Queen, it was the Curves.

    Just coming off the societal detox of Halloween candy, the sign got me thinking about the concept of treats.  It seems to me that I have ranted on "treats" recently and how we seem to feel we have a Constitutional Right to multiple treats per day. (and it goes without saying that we hope in vain there will be no unwanted consequences to our actions)

    Add to that a comment I received when I posted this on Facebook:
    which said: "Oh, come on. It's Halloween. You can't live life so disciplined because life then gets boring and not fun."  And she is right!  A life of grinding self-discipline would be boring.....but how many of us are actually living anything remotely close to that?  (I can assure you, I'm not)

    I guess my real question to you is "How broad is your definition of treat?"

    If you have multiple "treats" per day, are they still treats?  Or is that just standard operating procedure?  Super-sugared "coffee" in the morning, cookie with lunch, brownie off the break table in the afternoon, sugar added to our pasta sauce, dinner rolls, salad dressing, and then a (small...ish) bowl of ice cream in front of the TV.  ???

    And it's not just all things sweet -- chips, dips, the couple "extra" bites that taste good but you know you shouldn't have because you're full....they're all treats.....

    Unless they're not.  Unless "treat" is just a word we use to make ourselves feel better about the choices we're trying to justify.  We can't justify eating junk we know is bad for us (at least in the vast quantities we, as a society, are consuming them) so we label each of them a treat in an effort to make us feel better about our choices.

    No matter what you see as a treat (at least in the food department), its time to cut back...and for most of us, way back!

    Need something else to replace your food treat??  Try walking -- quiet time in nature really can be a treat....and you can indulge yourself as much want and your health will only be better for it!!!

    Thursday, November 1, 2012


    Happy November 1!  It blows my mind that we are closing in on another holiday season!!

    Yesterday, it struck me like a bolt of lightening that we have a lot to be thankful for.  On my part, I have a job I love.  A  family full of people I not only love but also like.  More than enough food...a warm house...more than 1 pair of shoes...the list is really, really too big to put here...

    And yet, what does our society teach us to focus on?  Lack.  Don't have enough health.  Not enough money.  Certainly enough time (are you kidding me?  We have never had any more time than this!  Why is it we don't think we have enough??  Why don't we get frustrated we have too many great ways to spend our time, instead?) 

    Start paying attention to what's on TV.  Start to notice how many times commercials use the subtle message of lack....constantly reinforcing the idea that you don't have enough....aren't good enough....

    Well, I'm tired of it!!  Yes, these are challenging times.  We see bad stuff on the news all the time.  But I'm here to say "So what?!"  We are blessed.  We could all sit down tonight and be able to fill a sheet of notebook paper with things we are thankful for.  (comfy socks, anyone?)

    And thankfulness is the best antidote to feeling lack.  Not enough health in your life?  Well take a look around you.  You won't have to look that hard to find someone worse off than you.  Right now, you have the ability to read this!  That means your eyes and your brain are communicating -- that right there should be enough.  You're blessed enough to have electricity to read this.  You are likely to be sitting some place warm right now. 

    I'd like to propose you spend the month of November mindfully being thankful for all of the blessings in your life.  For every opportunity to eat.  For every drink of clean water.  For every opportunity to sit down on your couch in the evening and every time you walk to your desk at work.

    You are here.  You have the ability to appreciate the good things in your life.  You have the ability to change those things that aren't working for you.

    We are blessed.  If we can spend the next 30 days remembering that, how much might it change our compulsive holiday eating? for thought.

    (as an aside:  if you're on Facebook and want to join the Thankfulness conversation, please feel free to join us over there for our 30 Days of Thankfulness!)

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    Culture vs. Strategies

    Culture trumps strategy in the long-term – always. Sure this sounds like a business quote, which it is, but let’s expand it into the larger realm. There are a bunch of people out there doing great work in an attempt to create weight loss strategies that will impact our health.
    Michelle Obama (whether you support her husband’s politics or not) is DOING something about childhood obesity with her Let’s Move campaign. It’s a strategy. Getting kids to move more, getting them to understand and connect with where food comes from can positively impact their food choices – less McDonald’s, more whole foods = less obese kids.
    Yoni Freedhoff is talking about Weighty Matters everyday.
    Marion Nestle is talking Food Politics in an effort to educate us about the back story of our food choices, Big Food (the money making, capitalist, food-oriented industrial complex). New York’s mayor is working to limit the amount of soda we can order in one cup. Strategies.
    And if you think about it, each strategy by itself is not likely to impact our over all health. San Francsico’s ban on Happy Meal toys was easily circumvented with a 10 cent charge added to the price the meal – viola! Irritating problem solved (the the food company earns more money!)
    What works is when all these strategies become so ingrained in our culture that the culture shifts. When we start seeing 32 oz. sodas as crazy big (again – because at some point American’s wondered who would actually drink that much soda!). When we start viewing eating out as a treat that happens once or twice a month not a staple of once or twice (or more) a week. When we start cooking (again) not just reheating food (or food products) that were created in a factory. 
    When all of these things become normal again, then we have changed our culture to support our health.
    But culture will never change without YOU. If you want to have an easier time managing your weight (and pull your local culture with you) you can’t wait for the culture to change – you have to change it by changing your behaviors.
    We are all individual drivers of our local culture. We can change our family cultures which will change our school and work cultures which will change our city cultures.  All of these small changes will make it easier and reinforce YOUR internal culture change. 
    If you want to be healthier – you need to be part of the solution….not the problem. It’s time to start thinking about which strategies you can actively support. We all need to do our part in creating the world we want to live in.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Normal? I don't think so!

    Are we making this weight thing just too hard? Maybe! I just read this article talking about everything we need to do the address the childhood obesity problem. Not to minimize it (because this is going to be a HUGE task!) but it all boils down to MAKING SOME IMPORTANT CHANGES both on the individual and community levels.
    Think about how your environment supports constant eating: how many cupholders are in your car? The truck I bought new in 1995 had 2 (and they only fit can-sized cups). The car I currently drive has 11. Plus, a spot in both rows of seating that is perfect to set the bag of fast food on. –And we think this is normal. Hmmmm….
    We also think it’s normal to see a McDonald’s exhibit at a Children’s museum.  And that it’s normal that eating out accounts for 50+% of the average American household’s food budget.
    We think it’s normal to go to a drive thru to get our dinner, our prescriptions, and our banking (not even bothering to WALK into the building).
    We think it’s normal to wear pants without zippers but full of spandex (so they don’t pinch or bind). We think it’s normal to order soda (liquid candy whether with sugar or without) with our meals, for “pick me up’s”, and just because we’re bored.
    It’s normal to feel we have the right to eat whatever we want – even though our national rates of diabetes is climbing (obviously our pancreas doesn’t think all that sugar/carb load is “normal”).
    Oh! And that brings me to how normal we think it is to have diabetes, heart disease, and to be overweight. People aren’t thinking twice about the diabetes diagnosis now. I’ve heard so many people tell me they’re just fine with taking one small pill for sugar control. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? This is NOT ok! We are lucky we have a medication option – but that doesn’t mean diabetes is NORMAL!
    Get a grip, people! We are letting ourselves be programmed into poor health (like maybe we don’t have a choice?) We do have a choice. Lots of them….everyday! You can choose to limit (seriously limit -- like all the way to zero) the amount of highly processed, low nutrient foods you eat. You don’t need those chips. Don’t like veggies – too bad! I doubt you’ll starve to death – more likely you’ll learn to like veggies if you put the time and effort into trying them.
    Think water’s boring? Again, too bad. Our body needs it. And it doesn’t need soda, lattes, Gatorade, or juice (and this isn't just my opinion -- it's a fact!).
    We have lost our way because we are giving up our responsibility to tell ourselves no. I know its hard – but too bad. We’re adults – for the sake of our health (and the health of our next generation), we need to start acting like it!

    Monday, October 29, 2012

    Thought for the Day...

    We all lose sight sometimes, but when we find our way again we are not only 2x stronger but we can see where we need to be, where we should be, and most importantly we understand why we are not there already.  – Ian Warner

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Do something Friday

    Your habits matter -- you're creating the future by your choices today:

    From the Huffington Post.....

    The One-Two Punch: Big Food gets Kids hooked early and often by Kristin Wartman

    If we knew that there was epidemic among our children that would cause them to die at increasingly younger ages and if we also knew that this disease was entirely preventable, wouldn't we do everything in our power to eradicate it?

    In fact, we do have an epidemic and it's largely driven by our reliance on highly processed, cheap convenience foods. The United States is hardly alone on this front, but our food culture is distinct from most other industrialized nations in a crucially important way -- we have virtually no regulation for advertising food and drink and we require very little in the way of labeling.

    In a few weeks, Californians will decide if genetically modified foods (GMOs) should be labeled. Labeling GMOs will force greater transparency on the part of food producers and it represents a potential shift for consumers to regain a measure of control over their own food. But the US will still lag far behind many European countries, which not only have been labeling GMO foods for years but in some cases, also require warning labels for junk foods and have strict regulations on the types of foods and beverages advertised, particularly to children.

    There is good reason for this. Studies show that Big Food corporations aggressively market unhealthy foods to children and in some cases children exhibit "brand recognition" and brand loyalty before they can even speak. A forthcoming study in the journal Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, found that toddlers identify the golden arches for McDonald's before they even know the letter M. After looking at more than 100 brands, researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of Kansas Medical Center study found that children are more likely to choose foods with familiar logos and that the majority of these foods are high in sugars, fat and sodium. Even more alarming, researchers found that seeing an advertised logo trips the pleasure and reward regions of children's brains -- areas of the brain that are also implicated in obesity and various types of addiction, including drug abuse, researcher Dr. Amanda Bruce said.

    Another recent study suggests that highly processed foods are addictive. Researchers in the journal Current Biology report that when they fed M&M candies to hungry rats, their levels of enkephalin (an opiod with similar effects to other drugs in this class) increased. The more the rats' enkephalin went up, the faster they ate the M&Ms. The researchers reported that the rats would not stop eating the M&Ms until the candies were taken away.

    But that's not all -- the food industry is actively shaping the palates of our children. While the food industry insists that it only advertises to children "to influence brand preference," a study published in the journal Appetite found that the industry works to "fundamentally change children's taste palates to increase their liking of highly processed and less nutritious foods." This study dovetails with Dr. Bruce's findings since researchers found that the awareness of fast food brands was a significant predictor of what they call the "Sugar-Fat-Salty" palate preference in children.
    Data is also surfacing that obese children are less sensitive to taste. Researchers in Germany found that on the intensity scale, obese children rated all flavor concentrations lower than did those in the normal-weight group. They believe this may be due to the fact that leptin, the hormone that regulates appetite and makes us feel full, might also affect the sensitivity of taste buds. It is suspected that people who are obese or overweight are resistant to leptin, making them feel hungrier and driving them to eat more.

    Not only does obesity or overweight affect taste, but it also affects memory and learning. A study in Pediatrics found that teenagers with metabolic syndrome (a precursor to diabetes, which includes having high blood levels of glucose, low levels of "good" cholesterol, high triglycerides, abdominal obesity and high blood pressure) had lower scores on tests of mental ability and significantly lower academic performance in reading and arithmetic. MRI scans of these children also showed reduced volume in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in forming and storing memories.

    The picture emerging from these recent findings is that children are becoming hooked on highly processed foods at a very young age. This changes their palate preferences for salty, fatty, sweet foods, leads to weight gain and metabolic syndrome, affects brain processes -- and ultimately, perpetuates a vicious cycle.

    So what is to be done? European countries, which have lower rates of obesity and diet-related disease, provide some answers. In 2007, the French government ordered all food advertisements to carry warning labels urging consumers to stop snacking, exercise, and eat more fruits and vegetables. The warning label also reads, "Consuming these foods may be harmful to your health." In Sweden and Norway, all food and beverage advertising to children is forbidden. In Ireland, there is a ban on TV ads for candy and fast food and the ban prohibits using celebrities to promote junk food to kids.
    It's time for American politicians to address the lack of regulation for Big Food and the advertising industry. We now have the science to prove that the content of highly processed foods coupled with the marketing of them to children and toddlers is amounting to a national health crisis.

    Over the past 15 years, the percentage of new cases of Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset, has skyrocketed among children -- from three to 50 percent. Approximately 12.5 million of children and adolescents aged two to 9 years are obese and since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.

    Diabetes, along with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease are becoming shockingly common in children and adolescents. We know these conditions arise primarily from poor diets and are driven by our consumption of ultra-processed foods.

    A startling USDA report from 2006 states that since the percentage of children who are overweight has doubled and the percentage of adolescents who are overweight has more than tripled, "If we do not stem this tide, many children in this generation of children will not outlive their parents." To put that another way: If trends don't change, the surge in diet related disease among children means that many parents will watch their children die. That was the prediction from experts six years ago and we have yet to see any substantive action from Washington.

    Our leaders must get tough on these corporations and stop insisting that it comes down to choice and personal responsibility. This is a myth perpetuated by the food and advertising industries so they can continue to harm our children and threaten the health of our nation with impunity. In what other circumstance would we allow an epidemic of such grave proportions debilitate our children unchecked? We've long been looking for the smoking gun -- it seems we've found it.

    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    A calorie's a calories...until it's not

    The term calorie is a measurement of how much energy is in something.  Your favorite pasta noodles are mostly carbs which have 4 calories per gram.  Same with protein: 4 calories per gram -- while fat is often villified for having 9 calories per gram.

    So on the surface, things seem pretty straight forward -- you can eat twice as much protein and carbs as fats for the same amount of calories. 

    And whether it is a whole food or a highly processed one, the calorie content of the different macronutrtients (carbs, protein, and fats) stays the same.  So when are calories not all the same?  When the combination of fats and sugars rewire our brain to drive cravings.  When was the last time you craved an apple?  An avacado?  An orange?  A salad?

    Sure, you might get a craving for healthy food sometimes....maybe.  But now name the last time you were craving a latte, fries, cookies or a brownie. 

    Food isn't just about the energy stored in it -- if it was, I doubt many of us would be overweight.  It's about satisfaction, managing our emotions, feeling a sense of family or community.  Those things come from tastes, smells, and textures -- not the calories.  Tastes, smells, textures and the feelings associated with them are part of the complex puzzle of what drives us to eat the variety and amount we do.

    Until you get to the bottom of what you're trying to accomplish with the foods you're eating, it is going to be very difficult to be successful in managing your weight over your lifetime.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    It's time

    It's time to start thinking about how you want to spend you holidays.  I know, it's only October but that means Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it, the non-stop eating that comes between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    I want this year to be different for you.  No holiday weight gain.  No guilt.  No trying to convince yourself that a few pounds (15 does not count as a few!) doesn't really matter.  It does.  It matters to your health, your energy level, and to how you feel about yourself.

    It's time to start paying attention to what you are putting in your mouth.  Every bite.

    If it's worth it, eat it and enjoy.  If it's not, throw it out!

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Progress not Perfection

    Let's think about what a perfect eating day would be like -- how do you see it?

    Would it be that you only eat enough to satisfy hunger but not a bite more?  Or that you only eat healthy foods you prepared yourself? .... give it some thought.  How do you see perfection?

    That, my friends, is the goal your working toward.  Not to be a downer -- but you'll never get there.

    Perfection doesn't exist (at least not in the human realm)

    But just because it doesn't exists, doesn't mean you should keep journeying towards it -- you can get close.  The closer you get, the better you'll feel about yourself and your behaviors.

    What causes problems is when people get the unrealistic notion they are actually shooting to attain perfection.  When it doesn't happen after they've put in the amount of work they thought is was going to take, people get frustrated, give up, and feel like a failure. -- that is no way to live!

    Please understand what we're working on is trying to change your automatic behaviors to eating less -- less volume and less often.  We're working on reconnecting with your body and letting it guide you about how much you should eat instead of letting the restaurant portions tell us what is an appropriate amount.

    It's about taking the time to taste to foods you assume you like and notice if you actually do like them this time.

    It's about taking time to understand how different foods make you feel after the frenzy of eating is done.  Do things you enjoy end up hurting your stomach?  Do you certain foods give you headaches?  You won't know unless you're willing to be mindful of what you're doing and how you're feeling.

    But then life happens and projects, stress, appointments, family needs, etc start piling up and you forget to pack your lunch or cook for dinner.  Trips through the drive-thru start happening.  Your pants get a little tight.....

    These things aren't failure either.  They're part of the journey.  The goal is to remember your mindfulness skills and get back to them sooner than you did in the past.  Put yourself back on your path toward perfection.  That is progress.  It is progress, not perfection we are seeking.

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    A Thought for the Day...

    Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’. --Mary Anne Radmacher

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Do something Friday

    What's your plan for the weekend?  Fall's here.  Are you going to cook?  Soup for the week, maybe a nice chili?  Many of the outside activites are coming to an end -- perhaps you're looking forward to some free time.

    Seriously, if you're trying to manage what you eat so you can live a long, healthy, and productive life, it's time for you to get back into your kitchen.

    We can't continue to eat out as much as we are.  Did you know more than half of the American food budget is spent on food outside the home -- more than half!!!

    When you cook, you control the ingredients.  You decide the portions.  You are back in the drivers seat.

    I've been doing a lot of research lately on obesity and it seems to me, if we cooked more, I don't think we would have the weight problems we do.  I'm not saying we would all be thin necessarily but I don't think we would have as many people carrying as much weight as we do.  I think cooking makes us more mindful of what we're doing when we eat.  We eat less often during the day if we have to cook -- let's face it, if you have to get dishes out of the fridge, prepare or heat something, and do dishes afterwords, that's a lot of work to engage in if you're not really physically hungry.

    So give it some thought.  Start small -- just plan out one meal for this week if you don't normally cook.  Or if you do, maybe it's time to start packing a couple lunches for the week.

    Brought from home saves calories.  You don't bring 3-4 serving sizes like you are served at every restaurant now days.

    Wouldn't it be ironic if your weight management success came from spending more time in the

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Someone said something that got me thinking....

    The other day, I was watching an interview somewhere and heard someone say something to the effect of:

    It's so hard to combat buying the food the TVs telling you to buy.....

    It is hard!  I know it!  Advertisers are really good at (and highly motivated to) make us buy food we KNOW is bad....I mean REALLY -- the stuff that has NO redeeming qualities (think soda!  regular or diet) for us.

    So what's your solution to this problem going to be? Live under constant stress of making the wrong choice because you're primed by watching all the commercials?  Max out your willpower during the 7-8pm time slot and give in by 8.30?

    If you can't deal with standing strong against the marketing campaigns DESIGNED to ruin you healthy eating behaviors. What should you do???? 

    (Just as an aside:  How many commercials for apples, whole cranberries (as opposed to juice), carrots, lettuce, and the like have you ever seen??  Not many.  You know why?  Because there isn't as high of a profit margin in whole foods -- there's no money to advertise!  If you're seeing an ad for it, the manufacturer has paid BIG money to put it there in hopes they will make BIG BIG money when we all go running to the grocery store because "there's nothing in the house". )

    Here's my suggestion -- if you can't stand strong against the commercials -- Turn off the TV.  Honestly, we really can't have everything!

    We can't sit for an average of 8 hours a day (AVERAGE mind you, which means some of us are sitting much more than that!!!), eat everything that crosses our paths or captures our attention, and expect to be healthy and feel energetic.

    If you are easily influenced, turn it off.  I bet if you make a commitment to turn it off for 1 week -- you will find you are not thinking about eating nearly as often and many of your cravings will go away because you aren't getting the constant triggers to eat food you aren't hungry for.

    The easiest diet change you'll every make -- turning off the TV.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Are you perplexed by your weight because you eat "healthy"?

    Today's post, filed under "Bad Advertising"  is from Yoni Freedhoff's blog Weighty Matters:

    Badvertising: Dole Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites

    "Real fruit in every bite".

    Must be good for you, no?

    And yet looking at their nutrition fact panels I learned two things.

    Firstly that despite there being "fruit in every bite", no bites contain any vitamin C - odd given vitamin C is something I thought was found in most "real" fruit.

    Secondly that these are pretty much nutritionally equivalent to Chips-A-Hoy cookies though to be fair they do contain 20% fewer calories and 10% less sugar.

    Here's a shopping tip for you: If you put "fruit" in a cookie, it's still a cookie.

    Eat cookies because you love cookies, but don't let someone dupe you into thinking you're making a healthful choice or that fruit-inclusive cookies somehow are a "better" cookie choice.

    Less bad is not the same as good. --YF
    I cannot tell you how often I get in the "but I eat healthy" discussion with someone trying to lose weight.
    You may eat healthy foods (or you may just think you make healthy choices but like Yoni's post indicates -- you may have bought snake oil).  However, if you're eating too much healthy food (as determined by your weight gain), you're still eating too much food!
    Ratchet it back!  9 bites per day.  Start listening to your body to determine whether you are physically hungry or some emotion is driving you to eat (boredom, anyone?)  9 bites fewer = enough calories to lose 1/2 - 1 pound per week.  Find. Those. Bites.


    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Fighting for vs. fighting against

    The other day, Seth Godin said this:

    When there's a change in your tribe or your organization or your trusted circle, you face two choices:

    You can fight with the person creating the change, push back against them and defend the status quo.

    Or you can fight for the person, double down on the cause, the tribe and the relationship, and refocus your efforts on making things work even better than they did before the change.

    They're similar emotions and efforts, but they lead to very different outcomes.

    Seth's focus is organizations and groups -- obviously, mine is on individuals but interestingly enough, the thought still holds true.

    I see people everyday who are struggling with some sort of health issue -- their weight, how they manage stress (because they know stress is toxic....which just makes them more stressed!), diabetes, heart disease, an injury or chronic pain....

    Some of those people spend a lot of time fighting against themselves.  They want to be the way they were when they .... were in their 20's (40 years ago!)....before their doctor told them they have high blood pressure....before their pancreas lost the ability to produce enough insulin to deal with their sweet tooth...before...before...before.

    And some people, under extremely tough circumstances (like being overweight, receiving a diabetes or heart disease diagnosis, or suffering an injury, find themselves in a spot they never intended to be but instead of fighting to get back to where they were (40 years ago, before the accident, or before the trip to the doctor's office), they pick a new direction.  One that moves them away from the place they find themselves and toward a place where they are wiser, healthier, happier, and more fulfilled than they have ever been.

    So what it comes down to is the people I see are either fighting against their current state and trying to go back to the way things were. 


    They are fighting for a new life.  One that accepts where they are right now and uses those conditions as a spring board to get to someplace better.

    And, from what I can see (and my own experiences), I do believe both of those options require the same amount of effort.  There's no "Get out of Jail free" pass that I've found.  Which means the choice is yours:

    Do you want to fight for something or against something???

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    A Thought for the Day...

    Here is a guideline (can we all agree to make it a Rule instead?)  Please note this applies not only to how you treat others -- honestly, that is probably the easier part of the equation -- I am more concerned with how you treat yourself!! --KSW

    Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible to be kind. 
    --Dalai Lama

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Do something Friday -- or in this case maybe it's a Don't Do something Friday

    Today's post comes from Robb Wolf's blog***, written by Amy Kubal.  Enjoy!!

    It’s kind of like when you’re walking through the toy section at Target; you know – there’re those toys that have the buttons that say “push me”.  Now, it’s likely that you aren’t even remotely interested in buying that troll looking doll that sings AND dances; but not pushing the button is completely out of the question.  It’s like a magnetic force that draws your finger directly to it – Can. Not. Resist. Force.  You did it, pushed that button, and now the toy is singing (extremely loudly) and doing something that sort of looks like convulsing (think Elaine dancing on Seinfeld – “the full body heave”).  Needless to say, people are turning your direction to see what all the commotion is about.  Frantically, you search for the off button and find that THERE ISN’T ONE!  There is no way to turn this thing off, and just your luck, the song of choice just happens to be endless and annoying.  (Sort of like this introduction…)  You think to yourself, “why did I push that $%# button”, even though you say that EVERY single time you do it.

    If you haven’t figured out where this is going yet, let me help you.  Let’s consider that bag of chips, can of nuts, or bowl of candy.  You don’t really ‘want’ the stale Dorito, cashew, or piece of candy corn, but it’s there and just one won’t hurt, right?  It’s like that magnetic force is drawing your hand to the food and putting it in your mouth, and now it’s too late.  The button has been pushed and there is NO STOPPING until the entire bag, can, or bowl is empty and maybe not even until the entire day, weekend, week or month is over.  The button is stuck and the off switch is nowhere to be found.

    What is it with this phenomenon?  Why is it SO impossible to stop once we start?  And why the heck do we start in the first place?  First, let’s identify the trigger – are you having a bad day, are you happy, bored, or did the food just ‘appear’ (think complimentary tortilla chips or bread at a restaurant).  Any of these reasons, along with a laundry list of others, can drive us to push the ‘on’ button and give into our cravings, emotions, or even peer pressure.  There are also all of these crazy chemicals and hormones in our brains that drive us to keep pushing the ‘on’ button even when we know we shouldn’t, don’t want to, and aren’t even going to enjoy it.  It’s exactly like the toy and the song – at first it’s cute and catchy, after awhile, yeah, it’s still cute but the song is starting to get a little old.  By the time the toy FINALLY stops singing you swear that if you EVER hear that song again, someone is going to get hurt.  In the case of, let’s say M&M’s, the first ten or so taste great, the next ten are still pretty good but not quite as good as the first.  The ‘on’ button has been pushed, you keep going and there’s no turning back until you’ve reached the bottom of the bag.  By the time you get to the end of the ginormous sack of sweet you feel like you’re going to be sick and swear that you’ll never eat another M&M ever again.

    Let’s go back to the toy aisle for a minute – you push one of those ‘on’ buttons, but instead of singing and convulsing like usual, the toy does nothing. So what do you do?  Push the button again, of course – but the follow-up attempts are proving as unsuccessful as the first.  Finally, you give up, set the toy down and search for your next victim.  I know what you’re thinking – “yeah Amy, but my ‘on’ button NEVER malfunctions like that.”  Am I right?  Think about this scenario for a second: You walk into the break room at work and are greeted with a beautiful tray of fresh vegetables.  You grab a carrot, a piece of cauliflower, and a cherry tomato, calling it good.  Whoa!!  Well, I’ll be damned – no ‘on’ button…  Craziness!  Replace that veggie tray with a bowl of candy or chips, plate of mini-brownies, or box of donuts, and the ‘on’ button suddenly starts working again.  What’s up with that?  Why is it that only certain foods push our ‘on’ buttons, and others do absolutely nothing?

    There are several reasons that trail mix can do what a tomato cannot.  Here comes the brain again (that reminds me of a song – hey, if I have to suffer – so do you…).  Yep, all those crazy circuits and neurotransmitters hard at work.  There are underlying genetic and individual factors that play into all of this and how our brain responds to different ‘addictive’ substances.  This is why some of us can control our ‘on’ buttons better than others.  It all has to do with the value that the ‘reward’ brings to us, or how much pleasure we get from the M&M’s or chips.  Unfortunately, the sneaky food industry is in on this little secret and has concocted ‘hyper-palatable’ foods to bait and hook us.  Just take some high fructose corn syrup (also known as street legal crack), combine it with some refined white flour, tasty hydrogenated fat, and a plethora of artificial flavors.  Finally add the ‘piece de resistance’ and finish that bad boy off with a sprinkle of salt – or better yet – MSG.  Yep, that right there folks is the stuff that dreams are made of…  Those test kitchen wizards know our weak spots.  DO NOT let them bamboozle you and push your ‘on’ button!  You’re smarter than that!  You don’t have SUCKER tattooed across your forehead, do you?

    I know, in a ‘perfect’ world (the one where unicorns and fairies exist and there are no taxes) we would all vow to NEVER let our ‘on’ buttons be pushed again.  Unfortunately the temptations are everywhere, and unlike alcohol and cigarettes, we can’t avoid food all together.  So, the whole eat until its gone scenario is one that plays out often for some of us. The key is to stop it before it starts. Like the toy in the store, once the button has been pushed – you’re committed, no going back and no getting out alive.  But stop!  Yes, I know it’s easier said than done.  Let’s say you’re munching on some trail mix (right out of the really big bag you bought at Costco…) and you get to the point where it still tastes good, but it’s not ‘great’.  This is when you need to stop.  Pick up an almond (or raisin, chocolate chip, etc.) look at it and ask yourself, what is eating this nut going to do for me, and am I truly enjoying this, or just eating it because it’s here and I started?  Is this piece going to taste as good as the first piece did?  Answer these questions honestly, and really think about how further handfuls of this stuff are going to make you feel.  That pause maybe all the time it takes for the ‘song’ to reach its end; saving you from another three cups of the mix, followed by guilt and a stomachache.

    If you’ve discovered that like the toy you don’t have a ‘pause’ or ‘off’ button, remember this simple mantra – tape it to the fridge, cabinets, pantry; tattoo it to your forehead; put it wherever you need it – but whatever you do – don’t forget it!  Are you ready?  This is profound stuff people…  Here it is: “If you can’t turn it off, don’t turn it on.”  Yep, I told you – GROUNDBREAKING!!!  Don’t push that button – why start what you already know will not end well?  Avoid temptation.  If the toy aisle at Target is problematic – just don’t even go there in the first place.  If there are no buttons to push, you and your fellow shoppers are ‘safe’.  The same is true with food – if the chip or bread basket is a problem don’t even let them bring it to the table.  If nuts, candy, ice cream, etc, are your gig then they probably shouldn’t be guests in your house.  No buttons – no temptation – no regrets.  An occasional indulgence is totally okay – but know your limits, and no matter what you do remember –

    “If you can’t turn it off, don’t it turn on.”

    ***just as an aside: Robb's blog is all about the Paleo diet lifestyle.  Although I really enjoy a lot of what is said there, especially Amy's posts, I am not advocating Paleo for you.  Please just take this post at face value :)  --KSW

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Junk Food, Willpower and your environment

    A little while ago, I watched this video for a presentation I was putting together about habits.  It's a funny thing to watch -- totally worth the less than 3 minutes just for the comic lift.  But once that's done, take the time to watch it again.

    Can't see the video?  Click here.
    Can you see yourself in any of those coping mechanisms?  Are you the "kid" that sits in the chair rocking back and forth?  Are you the one that eats most of it right away nad puts the sticky leftovers on the plate hoping no one will notice?  Are you the one who has it almost in your mouth and then (with a big grumpy face) puts it back on the plate?

    It's an interesting experiment.  The original (which of course didn't use video) found that 4 year olds that were able to delay their gratification and earn the second marshmallow turn out to be (on average) higher wage earners, less likely to be obese, earn a college degree, etc.  Makes sense, right?  Have a lot of willpower and you'll be able to "make" yourself do what you need to do.

    But let's look at that whole situation again.  Why are the kids under this marshmallow stress?  Because they have to sit with the marshmallow right in front of them.  They have to use their willpower to stave off the power of the treat.

    Now, think about the experiment another way.  How much stress would the kids be under if they were just asked to sit in the room (without the marshmallow in front of them) until the researcher came back and she would give them two marshmallows.  Probably not much.  The kids really didn't seem to mind just sitting in the chair (or at least the ones they showed in the video).  Without the treat in front of them, none of them would have been able to eat it -- bad for the experiment but gives us a valuable illustration for ourselves.

    If you recognized yourself in any of those kids (and I'm dying to know which one YOU identified with**), then let's talk about the solution to getting yourself out of temptation's way:

    Change your environment to support the behaviors you would like to see in yourself.  Willpower only lasts so long!  If the marshmallow (or it's adult equivalent of your choice .... chips, cookies, chocolate, pretzels, tacos, trail mix get my meaning) isn't in your house, you won't have to stare it down every time you open the pantry, fridge, freezer or cupboard.  You won't put yourself into the condition that leads to the stress you saw those kids dealing with!!!

    In other words:  don't buy it at the grocery store to keep it on hand.  If you need it that bad, it will be worth an inconvenient trip to the corner market!  Rethink your environment so you don't have to rely on willpower!

    **So back to the kids!  Which one resonated with you the most?  I am definitely the first one they showed (the blond sniffer with the "do the right thing" angst!).  Click the comments button at the end of this post and share which one seemed most like how you feel when faced with a similar dilemma.

    If you're on the Eating Coach blog, click on the word Comment at the end of this post and share.  If you're reading this via email, click here to be taken to the Eating Coach site and then you can click the comment button!  I appreciate your sharing!  It gives me feedback on which direction to take the blog in the future :)  You comments are very much appreciated!

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Redefining our idea of Desserts

    The other day, I read an interesting take on desserts.  When we get right down to it, we know desserts are something that should be a treat...a "once in a while"... a "special occasion" (never mind that we seem to be able to justify special occasion at any given moment).

    But what if we expanded our definition of dessert to include things like french fries, chips, popcorn, along with all the traditional sweets.  How would it change your behavior if you stopping making dessert be time dependent (something nutritionally void containing unnecessary calories that comes only at the end of the meal) and started thinking about anything that meets the dessert criteria (nutritionally void containing unnecessary calories) that you eat at any point throughout the day?

    And then, you only allow yourself one dessert a day.

    All of the sudden, it may mean the hummus and celery looks like a much better option because you don't want to squander you dessert for the day on the bag of plain chips at the end of the Subway counter.  If you only get one dessert a day, don't you think you would be a little more stingy/selective with what you choose?  I do.

    But we don't think about chips, nuts, popcorn, etc. as dessert.  We justify eating them because we've been taught if you're buying a sandwich, you need the chips to round out the meal --when in actuality, all we're rounding out is our physique.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    Junk food -- let's give this some thought

    I was just reading the comments section of a post and the commenter asserted:

    If you label it junk food, should you even be calling it food?

    Much of what I've been reading lately (Food Rules, The Cure for Everything, some other blog posts) has been talking about what is food and what is not.  Michael Pollan talks about "products" versus food.  I can see his logic in that division.  Chips (baked, fried, or encrusted with cheese....or more accurately cheeze dust that contains no actual dairy derived cheese) are definitely a product.  Twinkies -- product (you know this because they last forever under the car seat and they never go bad).  Soda ?  Well it's a drink so we don't usually think of liquids as food but still -- getting around that!

    Hot dogs?  Product.

    Apples?  Food.

    Cake?  Hmmmmmm.....this is where it gets sticky.

    According to, the definitions of food are:
    1. any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.
    2. more or less solid nourishment, as distinguished from liquids.
    3. a particular kind of solid nourishment: a breakfast food; dog food.
    4. whatever supplies nourishment to organisms: plant food.
    5. anything serving for consumption or use: food for thought.
    So, okay -- cake.  It does provide calories we can live off of (not that most of us really need those calories).  But maybe nourishment is just as much about sustaining the soul as it is about sustaining the body.  From that definition, cake can nourish.  So -- food.  Then the next question would be:

    How much cake do you need to nourish your soul?  (Answer?  probably a lot less than you are ever served! It can probably be measured in bites -- not pieces.)

    But that bag of chips you automatically pick up with your lunch sandwich -- we're already established it as a product but is it nourishing you?  It gives you calories, yes. (which, again, you really don't need)  The nutrient level is almost nil -- so it's not nourishing your body.  Does it nourish your soul?  I bet not.  I bet NOT EVER. 

    Who among you has ever been transported to a better place from a potato chip?  My guess is no one. (correct me if I'm wrong -- click the comment button and share the experience!)

    People, what are we doing?  We're eating food we label as JUNK.  Why?  We're intelligent.  We want to be healthy.  We value our appearance to one degree or another.  What are we thinking???

    My guess:  We're not.  We are willingly being blind to our drives, our needs, and the return on the investment of our calories.

    Here's a trick:

    Next time you pick up a food product to put into your mouth, try to imagine something that would taste better than whatever is about to go in.  If you can come up with anything that would taste better, put the food product DOWN!  Don't eat it.  You don't want it.  It won't nourish your body (because it's junk) and it won't nourish your soul (because you don't even want it).

    No JUNK FOOD -- you deserve better.  Eat real food.  Nourish your body.  Nourish your soul.