Thursday, May 31, 2012

In the interest of education.....

Please know from the start that I am not advocating the Paleo (or any other diet) for you, the individual. 

Today's post comes from Robb Wolf's blog.  He is a huge proponent of the Paleo diet.  Whether or not many of the extremes Paleo eaters go to makes for a longer, higher quality of life remains to be seen.  But the illnesses associated with obesity (heart disease, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, etc) have many componets effected by what we are eating (not just the amount of calories we take in). 

And if you've been to any of my presentations lately (or talked to me at the FC), you'll have heard me talking about the research out there that is starting to point the finger of disease squarely on our sugar (particularly fructose) consumption.

I value education and making educated choices for ourselves.  To that end, I present a post from Chris: 

So many people are told to eat less and exercise more when weight loss is the ultimate goal. We often assume that the greatest problem we face is lack of physical activity and easy access to high calorie, low quality food. In some cases this definitely may be the problem. Put down the bag of chips and do some exercise and you may see some weight loss. This weight loss may or may not be permanent, and in some cases there may even be weight gain. Why is it that people eat less and exercise more, but can’t sustain weight loss? There are a number of issues that can cause this scenario.

One of the answers to that question is buried right in the place that is giving us so many problems; our gut. In our gut there are two main types of bacteria: bacteroidetes and firmicutes. Studies have shown in mice and in humans that the bacterial makeup of the intestines differs between obese and lean subjects. Animal studies and human studies have shown that obese people have lower bacteroidetes and higher levels of firmicutes, but there is some contradictory data out there on gut bacteria composition (Harris, 2011). The bacterial makeup of the gut in obese individuals has been shown to actually increase the amount of energy extracted from food. This has been shown in experiments with mice where the gut flora of obese mice was switched with lean mice. The obese mice lost weight and the lean mice gained weight. Studies such as these show that obesity is a pathophysiological disease (Turnbaugh, 2006).

This change in gut flora can be the cause of us overeating. Andrew Gewirtz showed that insulin resistance and increased appetite can be transferred from mouse to mouse in an experiment that he ran. He even goes on to state in that study that he believes overeating is not just a matter of not having will power, but the gut bacterial makeup is what is driving the appetite (Vijay-Kumar, 2010).
Obesity has also been linked to many disorders such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. The interesting part is that poor gut flora has also been linked to the same diseases. One cause is our body’s immune response to the bacterial endotoxin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Our body responds by initiating an inflammation response. The resulting inflammation can suppress our immune system and leave us open to illness. Also, low grade inflammation from LPS has been linked to insulin resistance in studies (Wellen, 2004). The other factor is our gut bacteria have evolved with us.

One way bacteria have evolved is in their ability to extract energy from indigestible fiber. Jumpertz did a study comparing stool energy to energy consumed while feeding subjects meals that varied in caloric content and observing changes in gut microbiota. He concluded that with a 20% decrease of bacteroidetes and a 20% increase of firmicutes there was an increase in energy harvest of around 150 calories (Jumpertz, 2011). That study shows one way for counting calories to be ineffective, how can one person know what their energy expenditure truly is?

Our gut bacteria are not only 84% of our immune system, but they also have the ability to drive our appetite for high calorie foods, increase the amount of systemic inflammation we face, and also extract more calories from the foods we are eating. A primary goal of any weight loss program should be to focus on foods that heal the gut. Typically “bad” bacteria like to feed off of sugar and refined carbohydrates, while our “good” bacteria feed off of fruits and vegetables. This makes sticking with a paleo diet for 30 days even more important. That way the good bacteria can overtake the bad bacteria and allow our gut to heal.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Have you ever tried to juggle?  Last winter, I went to a Cirque du Sol-style performance and I saw jugglers I couldn't believe.  How is it possible to get all those balls going right where you want them, when you want them, catch them and move them with perfect timing?  Seriously....16? How's that possible???

You start with one ball.  And you get good at moving that one. 

"That's not juggling!" you say???

Au contraire!  It is juggling -- just not a mind blowing demonstration of juggling.

We are constantly seeing the results of hours upon hours of practice.  Dancing with the Stars contestants practice many more hours that the 45 minutes we see on TV every week.

That perfect home run hit wouldn't have happened without Little League.

The 16 ball juggler started with one ball a long time back.

You have to start somewhere too.  Pick a starting spot.  One meal.  One snack time.  One food item.  Practice being mindful on that.  Mindfulness for the whole small meal.  Removing one snack from your daily routine.  Choosing to only have 1 soda per day instead of 2.

Get good at that.

Then you can add something else.

That is living a more mindful life -- just not a mind blowing demonstration of living a mindful life.

Put in the practice and eventually you will be able to mindfully juggle your day to day eating habits with the ease that makes others think you were born with the skill.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Functional Foods

You know what I love about the Internet?  Infographics!  Lately, it seems the web is bursting with 'em!  Not familiar?  Essentially, an infographic is a blog post in picture form -- love it!

I read this infographic the other day -- How to be the Most Organized Person in the World (who can resist that title, right?)

As a minimalist (or at least a moderate minimalist -- I still love my shoe collection), being organized is hugely important to me!  So, obviously, I clicked on this title to see what else I could do (because I haven't yet achieved the status of "Most Organized in the World" and how cool would that look on a business card!)

Anyway.... as I was reading the graphic, I noticed the author's take on organization all boiled down to:
  • Understanding the function of each room.
  • Removing everything in that room that doesn't contribute to it's function.
I worked on this a while ago, when I moved to a new home.  If I didn't love it or if it didn't serve it's purpose, it didn't get to take up space in my living areas (and most of it didn't even get to take up space in the storage area!).

We live in a land of abundance.  We have lots of stuff (honestly, do we need toys with our meal?).  We have lots of food -- both in terms of variety and quantity.

So, can those two ideas from the infographic work for something other than organizing your stuff?  Absolutely!

If you are mindful, you can determine the function of each time you eat: are you physically hungry?  Are you bored? Are you using this food to help you deal with emotions than make you uncomfortable?

It's not wrong to use food in any of these ways -- but I want you to understand the function of those bites.  If you're comfort eating, don't eat anything that doesn't contribute to that sense of comfort (ie don't eat the salad to reduce your guilt about eating a bowl full of mashed potatoes!)  Or, if you're eating because you have a packed afternoon but aren't physically hungry now -- only eat enough to serve that function.  You don't need to get stuffed!  A little to help you make it through your meetings will work just as well.

Understanding what is driving you to eat is critical to understanding how to alter your mindless eating so you can drop some of those pounds.  Understanding the function food is serving at each eating time will take you a long way towards being "The Most Mindful Eater in the World"!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Memorial Day Thought for the Day...

There's room for more organization in every aspect of your life.  Take time to figure out how you can become more relaxed and productive.  --Greatlist Team

Friday, May 25, 2012

Do something Friday

The goal of mindfulness is to reduce the greatest number of calories with the least amount of sacrifice.

I'm not suggesting you stop eating those things you think are "bad" for you.  Arsenic is bad for you -- a slice of cake?  Not so much.

If I encourage you to go sweets free (or crunch free or fat free) this weekend, all you're going to think about is the food I told you not to eat.  You'll focus on it and crave it.

But what if you could chose any food you wish?

There would be not reason to obsess about it.

And if you agreed to leave uneaten all the bites that didn't really matter to you (like those 7 carrots you took off relish tray out of guilt -- because somehow you think eating 7 carrot sticks and a plate full of high fat items is going to make you a better person than just eating the high fat items).

This weekend -- focus on noticing the food that doesn't matter to you.  DON'T EAT THAT STUFF!

Eat the items that really look great!  Save your calories for those -- don't fill up on filler and layer the good stuff on top of that! (because really that's what you will be doing to your body -- layering the good stuff on top!)

Enjoy the kick off to summer!  Enjoy your family and friends!  Enjoy EVERY bite of food you put in your mouth -- and if you find yourself not enjoying, don't finish it!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Never, Ever Give Up

I posted this video on the FC facebook page -- it's VERY inspiring and wanted to share it with the rest of you on the off chance you haven't seen it yet.

My take away for this is the title:  Never, Ever Give Up.

Who would have thought the guy in the beginning of this clip could move himself as far as he did (weight loss, ability, strength -- everything!) in less than 1 year.  Who would have thought he would have the courage to try?  To fall down?  And most importantly -- who would have thought he would have the courage to get back up again -- try again -- and risk falling down again?

If he can do this, what are you capable of???

He is no different than anyone of us -- we all have this much courage if we're willing to dig deep enough and brave the possibility of failure.  If you're willing to face it and never give will succeed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You know what's depressing?

This summer, the Eating Coach blog is set to put out it's 900th post (that's the cool part).  The depressing part is after almost 900 posts, I haven't changed the world.

Obesity rates, depending on the numbers you look at, are still climbing.  People are still mindlessly munching their way through the day.  Clothing sizes, waistlines, ill health, and "value meals" are still growing in size and numbers.

I have failed.  I haven't been able to change the world -- which is my goal.  My writing has not catapulted me to fame and fortune (or at least fortune) yet.  The President has not appointed me Fitness Czar (yup, Czar is a real appointment -- we currently have a Carp Czar, Drug Czar and Car Czar -- why not a Fitness Czar?)

I have posted every weekday -- rain or shine -- holiday or not.  And here we are -- failure.

And yet, if I'm truthful, there are bright spots.  People who tell me they like what I write (or at least most of it :)  There are positive comments.  Conversations with people who have acted on some of the things I've written about.  People (maybe just a few) who are in a better relationship with food and with themselves, in part, because of this blog. 

So maybe I'm not a complete failure.  I haven't reached my goal of changing the world yet -- but -- some might say, it's early yet.  It's only been 900 posts.  It's only been a couple years of writing about changing behaviors that are completely different than what we've taught.  It takes time to change the whole world.

Maybe some of you would counsel me to be a little more patient with myself.  Perhaps encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing because it is making a difference (even if it is just in small ways -- they still count, right?)  Maybe some would tell me even the small differences will add up and I can't possibly change the whole world in one fell swoop without compounding all these small changes.

Is that what you would tell me??  Don't quit?  You'll get there?  Keep working?  It is making a difference  ???

And that is what I am going to tell all of you who struggle with the day to day changes we talk about here.  Ratcheting down you fullness level consistently takes time.  All the small decisions you make to leave bites uneaten add up to pounds lost...eventually.  Everyday commitments to park a little farther out in the parking lot make a difference.  Even though you aren't where you want to be right now:

Don't quit.  You'll get there.  Keep working.  It is making a difference.

There really isn't a quick way to the Fitness Czar job title -- I have to do the work.

There really isn't a quick way to change a whole life's eating behaviors -- you have to do the work.  One day a time.  One bite at a time.  One choice and opportunity at a time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Edible stop signs

While to some of you, yellow may be a signal to increase the pressure on the gas peddle -- red is a whole other idea.  Red means stop.  Period.

I bet, if you were eatin' along and someone with a big red stop sign jumped out at you when you reached a level 8 on the hunger/fullness scale, you would stop eating.

But what happens when there's a stop sign embedded in your snack?  Well, **several researchers have tested this very idea out.

If you take a tube of chips (think Pringle's) and dye every X number of chips red, people munching on those chips will eat fewer chips than those who have the normal container of undyed chips.  And those who have every 5th chip dye will eat fewer total chips than those who have a tube with every 10th chip dyed.

We notice red chips because they aren't normal.  They call attention to what we're munching on -- other words, they make us more mindful that we're eating in the first place.

And that's great -- but what if you can't get your hands on red dyed Pringle's??? could leave the bag of chips on the counter in the kitchen and only take one at a time while you are watching TV -- that would cut down your consumption by making it too inconventient to eat more than one or two chips!

And that is the exact reason I am a huge advocate of plating your dinner in the kitchen and then carrying your plate to the table to eat.  This cuts down on the one-bite-here-one-bite-there munching and second helpings you don't really need (or want) but just eat because they are there. 

The walk to the kitchen to get more food serves as a stop sign that allows you to recall your efforts to be more mindful of whether or not you really want that next scoop of dinner.

Give it some thought -- what other stop signs can you set up in your environment?  An inconvenient snack cupboard in the basement?  Often, walking down the stairs just isn't worth whatever mindless, munching snack awaits you down there.  What about making it a habit to always eat off a plate, sitting down at the kitchen table.  How many bites would you be unable to eat in the course of your day if you opted not to eat in your car, at your desk, or in front of the TV? 

What stop signs can you envision impacting your eating behaviors?  Click the comment button and share your ideas!

**interested in other research along these same lines?  Check out the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thought for the Day...

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. When you change for the better, the people around you will be inspired to change also....but only after doing their best to make you stop. Live your truth and don't EVER stop.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Friday, May 18, 2012

Do something Friday

The season of graduations, weddings, family reunions, and outdoor parties is upon us!  We're one week away from Memorial Day weekend and the start of our summer activities -- which means out opportunities to eat are going to be increasing (how is that even possible?!)

So it's time to pull out that journal and start paying attention --  which in this case means actually writing down every time you eat.  Focus on those times you find yourself eating when you are not  physically hungry.  You'll know this is the case if the hunger sensation you feel is localized in your chest, your mouth or there really is no hunger sensation at all. 

Physical hunger should be localized in your stomach -- it may feel growly, hollow, empty, etc.  But for most people, there is a sense of physical emptiness.  (versus a craving where something sounds so good to you but there is no emptiness in your stomach).

Click back over to the page where we talked about 456 on the Hunger/Fullness scale.  456 is trigger eating -- eating in reaction to something other than physical hunger.  The clock telling you it's time to eat.  Stress eating.  Eating because it's the time your spouse likes to eat. Someone hands you a piece of something and you eat it because it's there. --all of these are trigger eating.  You're not hungry -- you're just eating.

All of the festivities listed above lend themselves to trigger eating -- the food is there so therefore you eat.

If you start journalling now, you have time to increase your mindfulness of what typically triggers you to take in more calories than you intend.  But to do this, you're  going to need to take the time to  JOURNAL when you eat and  use the Hunger/Fullness scale to assess how hungry you were when you started eating and how full you were when you finished.

The whole weekend exercise is to get you feeling and understanding your behavior and then seeing it on paper so you can look for patterns.  The writing it out is critical for success in this process!

There's time to prepare yourself for all the fun activities you have this summer -- but you need to start now.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What happens when you've got nothing left?

No will-power.  No ability to say "not right now".  Not enough gumption to push your plate away from you when you know you should.  Not enough energy to make yourself go sit outside on a beautiful evening (far away from the kitchen).  When the day has used up your reserves and even though you know you've stomach is telling you you're at a 9 -- your mouth is telling you you're not done with your "eating entertainment" -- what happens then???

You know what?  Even though you've got nothing left to give -- what happens then is still up to you.

So what ARE you going to do then?  Your call.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Author of your Fate

"When you start creating for and in honor of those that have made a difference to you, your work changes." --Seth Godin

The quote is from a post Seth wrote about dedication pages in a book -- how, as an author, those are his favorite pages in the book because you can take a moment to thank those who inspired or helped you.

Not many of us are authors -- so dedication pages might seem irrelevant.

On the other hand, all of us are authors of our own fate -- in charge of the creation of ourselves.

Who are you dedicating that work to?  Who has helped you along the way?

I'm a pretty big believer in intrinsic motivations -- which means I am motiviated to do my set task because the reward I get is the feeling of accomplishment or success.  This translates to feeling good about my choices when I get up from the dinner table feeling like I am a 7 or 8 on the hunger/fullness scale.  That feels good to me -- and it makes me want to make choices that lead me to feel that way more often. (and sometimes I do and sometimes I don't).

When I walk away from the dinner table having eaten to a 9 or 10 -- I feel gross.  My stomach feels too full and my pants don't feel as comfortable.  This feeling makes me want to make different choices then next time I eat.  (and sometimes I do and sometimes I don't).

The thing about it is -- all of it, intrinsic motivitation (or extrinsic motivitation -- hitting a weight goal so you can celebrate by buying that new pair of shoes you wanted) or dedicating your efforts to someone else (a spouse, a parent whose dream it was to see to accomplish your goal, whatever) is about keeping your goal right in front of you as a reminder of what you are trying to accomplish.

The reason dedication pages often times seem so emotional is that they are emotional.  Those who contributed to the work enough to get mentioned in the dedication page, have an emotional connection to that author and the work -- and we know just how powerful emotions can be (ie your emotional eating experience of downing the whole container of Ben and Jerry's because you had a fight with your boss at work).

So give some thought to your dedication page.  Who would you list?  Your spouse, children, parents, best friend?  Who inspires you, supports you, and gives you a swift kick in the pants when you need it?

Perhaps its time to write that dedication page for your health behavior change.  Who are you doing this for and why?  Write it out.  Keep it in front of you.  It may make it much easier to say "not right now" to the brownies on the break room table, or the extra 3 bites of steak left in the kitchen while you're cleaning up.

You are the author of your fate -- who are you dedicating your masterpiece to??

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Want to skip all this Mindfulness and jump right to weight loss?

If you're thinking about skipping the ole fashion way to lose weight and jumping right into the pool of takers for the new weight loss drug Qnexa, read this first!

Lemons for Obesity

  1. Michael S. Lauer, MD
+ Author Affiliations

From the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland.

On 22 February 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) convened a panel for advice on a proposed antiobesity medication called “Qnexa.” Qnexa, manufactured by Vivus Inc., is a combination of phentermine, which is already approved as a diet suppressant, and topiramate, an antiseizure agent. Clinical trials demonstrated that Qnexa can lead to 10% weight loss in obese adults, but in 2010 an FDA panel recommended against approval because of safety concerns. Now, on February 22, Vivus was prepared to respond to 2 top safety worries: increased teratogenic risk for cleft lip and palette, and increased risk for cardiovascular events stemming from increases in heart rate. After reviewing documents and hearing a number of presentations, 20 FDA panelists voted in favor of approval and 2 voted against. I was 1 of the 2 (1).

My thoughts about Qnexa, and obesity medications in general, derive in part from 2 classic Nobel prize–winning publications from the 1970s. In 1970, George Akerlof wrote about the market for bad cars, otherwise known as “lemons” (2). Suppose used car buyers have reason to believe that 75% of cars are good and 25% are lemons; buyers know that some owners want to sell their cars because they've discovered many problems. A good car, which we'll call “a peach,” is worth $20 000, a lemon only $5000.

A prospective buyer has a big problem in being unable to distinguish peaches from lemons, whereas owners have no trustworthy way to communicate their inside knowledge. The buyer's problem, which Akerlof referred to as information asymmetry, leads to a low offer of, say, $16 250. Owners of peaches will refuse “low-ball” offers of less than $20 000, whereas sellers of lemons will gladly accept. However, the buyer will wonder why an owner would accept a low offer for a peach, suspecting that the car is in fact a lemon. The buyer will revise his or her offer down, say, to $12 500, making owners of peaches even less willing to sell. Over time, the only cars that will sell will be lemons—peaches will be driven out of the market. Because of information asymmetry, Akerlof argued, bad products drive out good ones.

If we think about the history of obesity medications, we've seen plenty of lemons. Ephedra, Fen-phen, phenylpropanolamine, and sibutramine had to be withdrawn from the market because of cardiovascular toxicity. Rimonabant was approved for sale in Europe, but was never approved in the United States because of severe psychiatric side effects. At this time, Xenical is the only drug that is FDA-approved for obesity, and its use is limited by abdominal discomfort and steatorrhea. Why so many lemons? And what about Qnexa? Is it another lemon, or is it the peach we all want?

On 22 February, Vivus submitted a lengthy document that included its syntheses of cardiovascular data to the FDA panel (3). The company noted that the drug increases heart rate by a modest degree while improving other cardiovascular biomarkers, including blood pressure and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Of 2581 patients enrolled in the company-sponsored “safety set” trials who were randomly assigned to Qnexa, 6 had myocardial infarction and 1 had a stroke, whereas among 1742 patients assigned to placebo 1 died from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and 4 had strokes. Based on these 12 major adverse cardiovascular events, the company reported a hazard ratio of 0.84 with a confidence range of 0.26 to 2.64 (3).

 The company wrote, “Considering the overall absence of excess major adverse cardiovascular events in subjects in this program who received treatment with Qnexa, the lack of a direct relationship between major adverse cardiovascular events and heart rate changes, and the beneficial effects of Qnexa in models of cardiovascular risk that include heart rate, it does not appear that the small heart rate increase observed with Qnexa treatment can be associated with an increased risk for major cardiovascular events” (3).

I disagreed, arguing that it is impossible to draw any conclusions about Qnexa's clinical cardiovascular effects based on a tiny sample of only 12 events and a confidence range that stretches from 80% protection to nearly a 3-fold increase in risk. I believe that if the public were to “buy” Qnexa after FDA approval, it would run the risk for severe, even fatal, consequences from another diet lemon. Why?

This brings me to the second classic publication from the 1970s, namely Tversky and Kahneman's description of biases and heuristics that lead to inappropriate conclusions (4). People have an “illusion of validity,” thinking that 1 outcome is “representative” of what they're actually interested in. In clinical research, we call this problem “excess reliance on surrogates.” We've seen numerous examples of failed surrogates, cases in which drugs seemed to do good things (like reduce blood sugar, increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and improve left ventricular ejection fraction) yet, once rigorously tested in trials with large numbers of hard clinical events, turn out to be dangerous. We cannot assume that just because a drug reduces weight and improves some biomarkers that it will be safe, let alone beneficial.

Tversky and Kahneman also described “insensitivity to prior probability of outcomes,” in which people do not properly take into account preexisting data while attempting to interpret new data. In clinical research, we call this failure to employ “Bayesian thinking.” We know that increased heart rate may reflect adverse autonomic nervous system effects that may increase the risk for fatal arrhythmias (5). We also know that prior obesity medications reduced weight at the price of unacceptable side effects. Taking history into account, we should be concerned about a proposed obesity medication that increases heart rate, especially considering that it may be used in tens of millions of people, many of whom are already burdened with cardiovascular risk factors.

Finally, Tversky and Kahneman described “insensitivity to sample size.” People assume that observations seen in small samples automatically translate to correct inferences about the general universe. We cannot assume that an absence of excess cardiovascular events in small trials—trials that yielded only 12 outcome events—means that we can confidently conclude that Qnexa is safe. In modern biostatistical terms, we express that uncertainty with the confidence interval.

What's the information asymmetry? Consumers, and indeed many doctors, are not able to judge the value of a proposed obesity drug because they do not appreciate the problems with surrogates, the importance of prior probabilities, and the extreme uncertainties inherent in small numbers. Manufacturers and the FDA are aware of these problems (or at least, they should be), but they have no good way to communicate with most physicians and patients who are limited by statistical innumeracy (6–9). The result is that, absent rigorous FDA oversight, we wind up with obesity drugs that reduce weight but increase cardiovascular risk.

So what to do? We can resolve the information asymmetry by insisting on a large-scale, preapproval cardiovascular outcomes trial of Qnexa. It would be too risky to rely on postapproval surveillance or to hope that a rigorous trial could be conducted in a timely manner. If Qnexa prevents cardiovascular events, or at least doesn't increase the risk for them, in a preapproval trial, then we will all know that we have the peach we've been waiting for.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thought for the Day...

No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.
Peter Drucker

I'm going to amend today's quote -- how about this:

No person can possibly survive it he or she needs to be a genius, superman, or have incredible willpower at every moment.  We each must organize ourselves in such a way as to be able to the lives we wish using an average amount of genius and willpower everyday.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Do something Friday

"Let me think about the people who I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best of them.  Let me extend that generosity to myself."  --Ze Frank

I love this quote!  Actually, I love the ***whole video it came from.  I like the idea of generosity.  Most of us are better at giving to others -- our time, our focus, our care, than we are giving to ourselves.  And yet, if we don't care for ourselves our quality of life goes down.  And then we have less to give the others in our lives.

This weekend, think about the generosity of spirit you extend yourself.  We're not talking about making excuses for your behaviors.  We're talking about being kind, nurturing, and choosing to treat yourself with love and respect.

What is the thing you most want others to give you?  Maybe it's time for you to do that for yourself. 

***I've linked the video but please be aware -- Ze chooses to use adult language.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

We're getting a handle on the mess....

The Start/Finish line is down.  The cones and barricades have gotten picked up.  The trash was picked up days ago.  Things are starting to slow down a little bit after the crazy pace leading up to the day of the Run for the Health of It/Kalamazoo Marathon.

All weekend, I saw all sorts of do-ers.  First timers and those who have done this all before -- getting up early to share in some great events.

I got to see people who 3 or 4 or 7 years ago, could barely walk through the doors of our Fitness Center.  Maybe it was a knee or hip, fibromyalgia, weight, or a recent surgery that made it difficult, and seemingly all the more necessary, for them to start their health behavior change.  But Sunday, I got to so many of them out there in the sunshine, smiling, cheering, and being part of an event designed to celebrate the health behavior changes they made.

You've got a year.  12 months.  What are you going to do with it?  Are you going to use that time to make excuses and half hearted attempts?  Are you going to settle for last year's accomplishment?  Or are you going to dig deep, deal with the idea that there is a big challenge in front of you, and get to work?

Next year, I would like to celebrate the victories you've achieved with your time this year, in Tent City, after your race.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reality TV

I think one of the reasons people like "reality" shows is "reality" is condensed down into 30 or 60 minutes (including nice little breaks from "reality" for commercials).

Now -- I'm not bashing on Biggest Loser.  But think about how long your workday is.  Can you even conceive of taking all of those working hours and using them for exercise?  For one day -- maybe.  But everyday, day-in, day-out, for months on end?

1  And if you can envision that -- what's stopping you from doing it on your own?  The cost of a trainer 8 hours a day?  The inability to quit your job for that many months?  The thought that your body may not hold up under so much strain?

2.  So what's stopping you from breaking down that reality into 2 hour segments.  You go to the gym EVERYDAY for 2 hours and workout -- hard!.  You pay attention to your choices at EVERY MEAL -- day-in, day-out -- no days off, no excuses. ???

3.  Or what is stopping you from going for a walk 30 minutes everyday.  Day-in, day-out, and paying attention to almost all of your choices.  Eating less than normal at EVERY meal.  Having a small piece of yummy desert as the exception not the rule and giving up TV time so you have more time to be outside during the summer.  ???

"Reality" TV has conditioned us to think that if it (what ever it is) doesn't elicit visible changes in a condensed time frame, what we're doing isn't working.  So we don't see that option 3 is a valid choice because we intuitively know we aren't going to see huge results in the first two weeks.

And yet -- If you adopted option 2 or option 3, you would see results before your Fourth of July party.  And if you learn to integrate option 2 or option 3 into your life, you will see miraculous results over the course of the next 4 or 5 years.

And the really cool part is that option 2 and option 3 actually build on themselves.  Much like I wrote about last Friday, once you create an option 2 or option 3 habit, it is very likely you will find yourself making other healthy behavior choices that support you healthy lifestyle and thereby compound the results you are getting.  (like instead of choosing to go on a cruise and eat at the buffet the whole time you are on the boat, you may choose to bike through wine country).

Our lives do not run at the same speed as "reality" TV (and thank goodness for that!) -- so don't fall into the trap of expecting "reality" TV result when  you don't live in that "reality" world. 

Take your time.  Make your choices.  Know that they are moving you in the direction you want to go.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A couple thoughts on yesterday's quote

The thought for yesterday -- did it stick with you?  If not, here it is:

If you want to succeed in the world must make your own opportunities as you go on. The man who waits for some seventh wave to toss him on dry land will find that the seventh wave is a long time a coming. You can commit no greater folly than to sit by the roadside until some one comes along and invites you to ride with him to wealth or influence. --John B. Gough

There were a few things that struck me about this idea:

1.  "If you want to succeed"  -- success is always a choice.  We hear a lot about people who were in the "right place" at the "right time" and something wonderful happened.  Let's say we're talking about a person who won the lottery -- they still bought the ticket.  They could have stayed home in their jammies watching the latest "reality" show -- but they didn't.  They took action.

2. "(you) must make your own opportunities as you go on" -- to me, that underscores the nature of moving forward.  We have to move forward (or the world moves forward around us), and we will continually be presented with options to act on.  It always amazes me how 5 or 7 intentional actions in a day add up over the course of a month or a year.

3. "you can commit no greater folly than to sit by the roadside until some one comes along and invites you to ride with him to wealth or influence" or greater health...  If there's no greater folly than waiting -- that means the mistakes, misteps, and wrong turns we all make are a BETTER CHOICE than sitting there waiting for someone else to do it for us.  Which is GREAT! because no one else is going to make our eating decisions for us and you're losing precious minutes of your life sitting by the roadside waiting.

Don't be afraid to take action!  Don't wait for someone else to blaze this trail -- you are the only one who can do that.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thought for the Day...

If you want to succeed in the world must make your own opportunities as you go on. The man who waits for some seventh wave to toss him on dry land will find that the seventh wave is a long time a coming. You can commit no greater folly than to sit by the roadside until some one comes along and invites you to ride with him to wealth or influence.
John B. Gough

Friday, May 4, 2012

Do something Friday

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being part of a conversation so perfect -- I couldn't have planned it better myself!

I was at work and two of my FC members were talking about the Kalamazoo Marathon/Borgess Run for the Health of It.

One of the members is going to be a first-time volunteer.  The other is going to be a first-time 5k-er.

The 5k-er, upon realizing this is the first time the other was going to volunteer said:

"Well, did you know....this is how it all starts...."

Meaning, for this person, volunteering to help with her first race was the first stepping stone in becoming a 5k-er herself. 

How many studies tell us it's all about the people you hang around with???  (All of them!  And it's not just teenagers who are susceptible to peer pressure!)

So this weekend, make plans to come out and cheer along the 5k, half or full marathon route -- or make plans to get down to the Start/Finish line (and Tent City).  Take some time to people watch and see what you see.  I bet you're going to see people that look like you -- young, old, some more healthy weight and others not-so-much....

But the biggest difference between you and them may just be that they got up the gumption to try to see if training for a 5k was for them.  For no other reason than to see what they were made of and if they could do it.  And they will.....


Connect with your tribe.  Those people that want to support a healthy community (in all it's forms -- not just running).

This weekend, come catch the healthy energy and be inspired!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Biggest Loser follow up from yesterday

After reading yesterday's article myself, I passed it along to a group of fitness professionals to get their reaction.

Interestingly enough, they read some things into the article I did not and I thought it might be a good idea to follow up with you all so I (or the article) did not give the impression I was saying something I didn't mean to say.

First of all -- neither I (nor the article's author) are saying that exercise is bad.  Any of you that know me (or read the performance blog), know that I am a huge fan of exercise!  I am not concerned about the Biggest Loser type training because those participants are exercising -- I have concerns about their long-term health because they are exercise soooo intensely for soooo many hours per day -- day in and day out.

Their physical systems did not get to where they are in the course of 1year -- so to completely stress those systems into a whole new way of working in less than a year is A LOT of stress.

Plus, although many of you would love to lose an average of 10 pounds a week over the course of that many weeks -- again, that's a lot of stress on your body.  I like the phrase "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" -- but if it actually kills you, the point is moot.

The second reaction I got from my group of professionals was that Yoni was promoting bariatric surgery over exercise.  Again, I don't think that was the point of the article.  I believe he was using the bariatric surgery patient numbers as a comparison example of another situation where participants experience rapid weight loss.  Any medical professional worth his/her salt will understand and convey to potential patients that there are huge risks with any surgery -- let along one that works by completely disrupting bodily system necessary for life! 

So please walk away hearing my initial message:

There are no quick fixes for weight management.

No pill.

No surgery.

No diet.

No "magic" trainer.

All your options are hard work.  Whether it's hard work in the form of learning new mindful eating techniques.  The hard work of hitting the gym, track, treadmill, weights, bike....etc.  The hard work of doctor visits, surgery, recovery (and then learning how to eat mindfully, and hitting the gym, track, treadmill, weights, bike, pool, you don't "out-eat" your surgery and reverse the whole thing!) Or some combination of all of them......

There are no magic beans -- you've got to do the work.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Biggest Loser Destroys Participants' Metabolism???

Feelings are pretty poloarized when it comes to the Biggest Loser.

Some fitness professionals around here HATE all of the practicalities that show stands for! Not that we dislike the contestents or the trainers exactly.  But many of us feel the show sets up dangerous and unrealistic expectations for the participants and the audience.

Let's not forget -- any TV show is entertainment.  And although the contestants are doing some amazingly difficult work, I feel much of what is emphasized is the wrong approach for lasting weight loss in most people.

That being said, I just read the article below.  The destruction (as in broken and cannot be fixed) of participants' metabolism is not surprising (remember -- this show is entertainment) but the amount of metabolic slowdown this article cites is HORRIFIC!

Before you watch another episode or wish you were a contestant, read this:

The Biggest Loser Destroys Participants' Metabolism by Yoni Freedhoff

Talk about setting people up for long term struggle.

The term metabolic adaptation is given to the phenomenon whereby when a person loses a certain percentage of weight, their metabolisms slow by greater amounts. This process may be theoretically accelerated with more rapid weight loss as a consequence of the rapidly losing body metabolizing calorie burning muscle along with fat to make up for its massive energy deficit.

And as far as rapid non-surgical weight loss goes, there's probably no weight loss program more rapid than that of the television show The Biggest Loser, where it’s not uncommon for contestants to lose upwards of 150lbs at an averaged pace of nearly 10lbs a week.

Of course what’s different about the Biggest Loser as compared with most other non-televised rapid weight loss programs is the incredibly large amount of exercise concurrently involved, along with an almost certainly severe degree of stress, peer pressure and dietary restriction given the team and competitive nature of the show (where the team who loses the least weight has a member voted off, and where the last man or woman standing wins $250,000).

So is the weight lost on the Biggest Loser, a show now formally endorsed by the First Lady as an inspiration to the nation, healthy? Does the huge amount of exercise protect contestants against the show doing marked damage to their metabolisms?

The answer to both of those questions certainly appears to be, "No".

In an article published yesterday ahead of print, Darcy Johannsen and friends studied the impact 7 months of Biggest Loser weight loss had on the resting and total energy expenditures of 16 participants. They used all the latest gadgets to do so including indirect calorimetry and doubly labeled water. So what happened? By week 6 participants had lost 13% of their body weight and by week 30, 39%. More importantly by week 6 participants metabolisms had slowed by 244 more calories per day than would have been expected simply as a function of their weight loss and by week 30, by 504 more.

That's basically a meal's worth of calories a day that Biggest Loser contestants no longer burn as a direct consequence of their involvement. How do you think you'd do at maintaining your weight if you ate an extra meal a day?

But maybe that's typical. After all, metabolic adaptations are a known consequence to weight loss - couldn't that be all we're seeing here? I guess it's too bad there's no control group the study could have used for comparison.

Actually there kind of is. Bariatric surgery patients lose massive amounts of weight in a hurry as well, and they generally do so without the inane extremes of lifestyle endorsed by the Biggest Loser. If there were a study on the impact bariatric surgery losses had on resting and total energy expenditure, that would certainly offer some insight as to the healthfulness of Biggest Loser's weight loss program.

Good news! There is such a study. Published in 2003 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers looked at the impact bariatric surgical losses had on the resting and total energy expenditures of 30 men and women whose pre-operative average BMIs of 50 were within 1 point of the Biggest Loser contestants' averages of 49, and who lost a Biggest Loser style average of 117.5lbs. And guess what? While resting energy expenditure indeed was shown to slow, it didn't slow down in excess of what would be expected by weight loss alone. In other words? Looking at these two studies, Biggest Loser style weight loss destroys metabolisms dramatically more than does bariatric surgery and does so in huge excess of what would be expected simply as a consequence of losing weight (though I suppose to be fair, the study on the surgical patients was done at 14 +/- 2 months, while the Biggest Losers' was at 7 - perhaps the Losers' metabolisms will improve with time)

That's a rather ironic finding given that one of the Biggest Loser study's authors, Biggest Loser's TV doctor Dr. Robert Huizenga, regularly trash talks bariatric surgery on the show as a terrifically unhealthy way to lose weight. Metabolically speaking, it would seem to me that his own study would suggest bariatric surgical weight loss is far healthier to a body's metabolism than is Biggest Loser style loss.

The study concludes,
"Unfortunately, fat free mass preservation did not prevent the slowing of metabolic rate during active weight loss, which may predispose to weight regain unless the participants maintain high levels of physical activity or significant caloric restriction"
Gee, ya think? "May"?

Here's how I'd spell it out. While some contestants of the Biggest Loser will translate their new lifestyles into careers as product spokespeople or fitness trainers and hence have new external motivators to maintain their extreme behaviours, those who don’t are doomed by the show itself to regain their weight, as the lifestyles promoted by the reality television show The Biggest Loser are only "realistic" to those whose livelihoods and/or fame depend on them.

Case in point? That picture up above, that's Eric Chopin. He was the winner of the third season of the Biggest Loser. He lost just over 200lbs. A few years later he was on Oprah to talk about his massive regain. Think Eric dropped the ball? Not me. I think the Biggest Loser provided him with a nonsensical and metabolically dangerous approach to weight management, and in the process, stacked his deck entirely against him.

Darcy L. Johannsen, Nicolas D. Knuth, Robert Huizenga, Jennifer C. Rood, Eric Ravussin, & Kevin D. Hall (2012). Metabolic Slowing with Massive Weight Loss despite Preservation of Fat-Free Mass The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism : 10.1210/jc.2012-1444

Das SK, Roberts SB, McCrory MA, Hsu LK, Shikora SA, Kehayias JJ, Dallal GE, & Saltzman E (2003). Long-term changes in energy expenditure and body composition after massive weight loss induced by gastric bypass surgery. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 78 (1), 22-30 PMID: 12816767

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shape your Summer!

Last week, I posted about picking yourself.  Well, here's one opportunity to do just that:

Borgess Health and Fitness Center is announcing a special summer membership!!  Try the FC for 3 months and see if you can learn to love (yes....I did say LOVE!) to move!

The summer is a great time to start add intentional movment to your list of healthy habits.  And for those of you looking for a tribe dedicated to consciously choosing to improve their health a little each day, I don't think you'll find a better place to do that than here with me!

Check out this link to find out more details about the Shape your Summer program!