Friday, August 31, 2012

Do something Friday

There's time.

As much as I hate to admit it, the offical end of summer is here.  Labor Day weekend -- the traditional end of summer.  So enjoy the last summer party.  Eat, drink and be merry.  But maybe it's time to start thinking about where you want to be for the winter holiday party season.

Do you want to have to fit into those uncomfortably tight dress pants you wore last year?  Maybe you're afraid you won't even be able to fit in them.  There's plenty of time to address that before Thanksgiving.  We've got 12 weeks.

If you start reducing your intake by 9 bites per day -- you could (with relative ease) be 12 pounds lighter for Thanksgiving.

In fact, if you cut in half your normal portion size (and didn't make any changes in your choice of foods), you may be able to be 24 pounds lighter on Turkey Day.

But not if you don't start. 

Put away your dinner plates, giant bowls, and super sized glasses.  It's time to start eating off of the lunch plates, coffee mugs for your cereal and soups, and juice-size glasses.

If you eat less -- you won't have to give up the foods you love!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Secret to Managing your Weight

Gottcha!  How can you resist that title, right?  You're hoping there's something fabulous here that will tip the scale in your favor (pun intended!)

So here it is:

Work every day to manage your weight.

That's it.

"Well, duh", you say.  "No kidding."

But seriously, when was the last time you were unsuccessful managing your weight if you were working on it every day?  That's why diets work.  In one way or another, they keep you actively working on managing your weight -- and guess what?  You lose weight.

The problem becomes when you have lost the weight and you think your done. 

You're not.  You'll never be done.

Maybe you won't have to spend as much time managing it then -- maybe you can go two weeks without weighing yourself or be a little bit freer with which size gellato you order.  But eventually, it is likely you'll gain the first pound and if you catch it at that point, you'll make a concerted effort to lose that first pound before it decides to stay and invites a friend or two (or 50).

So that's the secret.  Anyone over the age of 25 who maintains a healthy weight somehow has learned this secret -- in our environment of food abundance there are very few who are metabolically so gifted that they don't ever have to think about it. (so don't kid yourself on that account!)

That's it.  You don't have to do it perfectly but you do have to do it everyday.  No cheats.  No vacations.  No days off.  Do something to move yourself along everyday -- even if it's a small thing -- work on it everyday!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What do you really value?

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about mindfulness -- what it is and what it's not. 

I assert that whole "experiencing what is currently happening" (or not) is a habit -- what we practice becomes our default settings.  If you make a concerted effort to become more mindful (about anything -- not just eating), mindfulness will move closer and closer to your default setting.  And, it seems to me, the only way to make this happen is if you genuinely value mindfulness.

Valuing something is much different than thinking you should value something.  If you feel you should value living your experience as it unfolds but you don't actually value it -- you're not going to make a habit of it.

The reason being, we only have so much time, attention, and willpower in a given day and we spend it on what is most important to us.

If watching reruns of Lost are important -- that's what you're going to do.  If you find yourself watching Lost and continue watching it even though you feel you "should" go out for a walk, you're still valuing watching the rerun (or more likely, you're valuing the mind-numbing distraction TV provides) more than you  value how the walk may make you feel. Period.

Sometimes, I think many of us let ourselves off the hook with too many excuses.  The whole "I really want to make my health a priority but other things keep getting in my way" mentality.

The sad fact is, we do what we value but often what we actually value, what we want to value, and what we feel we "should" value are quite different.

So, that begs the question:

What did you really value last night?

A sit down, relaxed meal with family or friends?

High quality food that nourished you body and soul?

Quick bite so you could get out on your bike to catch an evening ride?

Or enough low quality, unsatisfying food to lull you into a food coma so you didn't have to think about all the work/personal stuff that's been dragging you down?

Hmmmmm.....maybe it's not food you need.  Maybe it's just food for thought.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mindfulness - what is it?

Have you ever gotten into the vacation groove where you start thinking about what you're going to eat for lunch while you're still sitting at the breakfast table?  Your travel bag is crammed with snacks because you don't want to get hungry?  You're not sure when the next stop is going to be so you pack a cooler in the car and happily munch through the whole trip?

That's not mindfulness.

Mindfulness is about experiencing what is actually happening right at that moment -- not experiencing what may happen in the future before the it gets even gets here.

But why do we do it?  Why do we insist on living our failures before they actually happen?  Why do we insist on rushing through the first hamburger all the while obsessing about whether or not there will be a second one for us on the grill when the first one is eaten?

I suppose there could be lots of fancy and complicated answers for this kind of behavior but I think it's just our habit.  We like to look ahead.  We are confident enough in our relative safety in the present that we don't feel the need to be alert to what we're experiencing now and instead scan the horizon for what's coming our way.

And I suppose that ability has it's good points too.  We can avoid trouble sometimes when we notice something in our near future that is likely to be a problem.  But I don't think we balance these two abilities very well.  I think we've gone overboard with living the future more often than not.  Which means there is very little time devoted to living the present -- which is the only place life actually happens.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Do something Friday

Behaviors are what drives your weight -- not magic.  In order to change your weight, you have to change  at least one behavior (and usually many more).

It's time to start building up your mindfulness muscle.  Pick a behavior:

No snacking -- you can eat whatever you want at meals but don't eat in between.

or

Eat only one plate of food per meal and figure out what you're going to have for snacks ahead of time -- no changing your mind once you've decided.

or

Eat everything sitting at the table -- even your snacks.

Pick the one that sounds easiest -- or if none of them sound easy pick one you make up for yourself.

Do that task consistently for the weekend.  I bet it won't seem that difficult once you get going and you'll know you only have to do it until Monday morning.  You might be surprised at the amount of change you are capable of!

But the important thing is to start making changes!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Creating a meaningful emphasis on dose

I've spent the last couple days in a Medical Exercise Therapy class designed for physical therapist and my brain is FULL of fabulous new ideas for helping my clients! 

The single thing that I thought was most helpful (and everything built off this) was that exercise is all about dosing.

Too little and it will do something (it always does something) but it may not have the effect you want it to have.  Too much and the body tissue you're working on will breakdown -- then the exercise is doing more harm that good.

Here's the thing -- many people I work with feel they are in too much pain to exercise.  Now I'm not talking about overloading a stress fracture in the foot with a high intensity spin class -- that would be above the ability of those healing tissues to withstand.  I'm talking about the chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia pain that can flare up when people exercise.

The instructor of this course contends, if dosed right, exercise will actually help that person manage their pain, increase blood flow to the muscles and nerves, provide other stimuli so a person's sense of pain is reduced, and a myriad of other benefits.

But all of those benefits hinge on finding the proper dose of exercise.  And many of us think we need the horse pill equivalent of exercise before it does any good.  I'm here to tell you that is not the case.

Sometimes, taking 3 steps more than you did yesterday or making it half way out to your mailbox is just the right dose of exercise to help and not hurt you.

After a few days of doing that, you may be able to make it 3/4 of the way down your driveway and back.

Over time, you may end up doing things you never thought possible (there are a few of you reading this that should recognize your situation right here!)

But the point is -- we get so caught up in what we can't do (can't hop up off the couch and walk a 5k), that we don't see any point in trying to walk half way down the driveway.  But everyone who walks  has to be able to accomplish the 1/2 of a driveway before they can move on to greater distances.

So, what does this have to do with mindful eating?  Well, here's the thing -- if you are one of those "can't make it to the end of the driveway so I might as well not try to walk half way" kind of people, chances are you are going to struggle and get frustrated with mindful eating because you're not going to lose weight as fast as you would like. 

So you may not try to journal your food intake.  You may not try to reduce your soda intake by one soda a day.  You may not think it is worth investing the effort to make one small change in your behaviors because you think one small change isn't enough to make any kind of difference in the 100 pounds you have to lose.

You're wrong.

It's all about the dose of change.  Maybe you only have enough stamina for a small dose of change right now.  But -- if we get you working on that change, your mindfulness muscles will get stronger. 
As they strengthen, we can get you doing more complex behavior changes.  But much like physical therapy or exercise in general, if we do too much at once and overload your mindfulness muscles, we'll do more damage than good -- and you'll end up at home on the couch feeling bad.

It's all about dosing the change to maximize the positives and minimize the risk of negative outcomes.  You can make a change -- it just might be much smaller than you'd really like.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just can't seem to make the time for journaling?

Currently, I am preparing a new presentation on habits.  Most of us run on autopilot more than we should on many things and not enough on others.  That's where mindful eating comes in -- if you focus on how you habitually eat, you will learn how you actually eat -- not just how you think (assume) you eat.

But the real goal of mindfulness, at least for weight management, it to focus your concentration on your behaviors, find out which ones are leading you away from your goals, and then alter those habits so you can run on autopilot eating behaviors that help you stay at a healthy weight.

Journaling is an important tool in this process.  Actually, journaling is the single most effective approach to losing weight.  If you have to write it down, you'll eat less -- proven fact.

But people resist journaling with an unnatural passion! 

"It's too hard" (to remember to write things down although apparently it's not too hard to remember to eat.

"It's embarrassing" (like no one is ever embarrassed when they have to go someplace and feel like they are not the size they shouldn't be.

"When I see my food written down, it's frustrating" (because you never feel frustrated about your weight when you're not writing things down?)

Ok.  So journaling's hard.  I get it.  Big psychological hurdle for some of us.  I'll see your objections and raise you an easier method!

How about this:  For three weeks, start carrying around an index card in your pocket.  All you have to do it make a check mark when you eat something.  That's it.  Doesn't matter what you're eating or when or how much.  The goal is to just get you starting to pay attention to the impulse that starts you eating.

I'm not looking for perfection here!  I know you won't always remember to make a check mark in the beginning.  But if you stick with it, you can create this temporary habit.  And once that happens, you are going to start noticing what happens right before you notice the impulse to eat.

That information is like gold!  Armed with the knowledge of what triggers you, you can alter your environment in very small ways so you aren't triggered as often and therefore don't take on as many calories (ie THE SECRET TO WEIGHT LOSS!)

What do you think?  Simple enough?  Come on!  Pony up and give it a try!  What have you got to lose??( -- Just the weight you don't want anyway :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stress that makes you healthier??

Completely off the topic of eating (but still in the zone of mindfulness in general), here is a very interesting TED video discussing good stress and how it can improve effectiveness of vaccines, cancer treatments and recovery from surgery.

Can't see the video? Click here!

What I find so interesting about this whole concept is how screwed up research has made us and how it is now it is the job of researchers to validate the common sense approach we were born with.

We know how to listen to our body's hunger and fullness signals when we're born -- we don't over eat.

We know, as young children, that movement is good (and not even purposeful movement -- just movement for movement's sake).

Science can't fix us by itself.  Our bodies are wise beyond our conscious mind in taking care of themselves.  We just need to listen to what it is telling us and help it do the job it wants to do. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Thought for the Day...

 Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacles. --Christian D. Larson

Friday, August 17, 2012

Do something Friday

A hospital in Massachusetts color -coded its offerings in the cafeteria.  Red, yellow, green -- least to most healthy options.  What happened?

"About six months after the changes were made, the purchases of "red" label food decreased by more than 15 percent, and "red" beverages dropped by 39 percent. "Green" food and drink purchases increased, according to the study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine." -Katherine Harmon

Could it be that in our effort to educate ourselves about food choices we have overburdened ourselves with so much information that now we're stuck?

Is that why a simple formula (red, yellow, and green) works so well?  It doesn't require a lot of thought and if we  make more green choices than red ones we know we're all set? 

If you're one of those people who is continually up to date on the newest and best "super food" and find that you're still stressed out because you're not seeing the changes in your pant size you're hoping for, maybe it's time to stop reading about foods.

"Good" foods and "bad" foods change sides....all the time!  Remember when iceberg lettuce had no redeeming qualities so we were all encouraged to eat spinach or some other form of leafy green?  Well, shock of the world! Scientist isolated a compound in iceberg lettuce that promotes brain health -- so! It's off the bad list.

Those lists are arbitrary!  Get over it!!  Its time to go back to the basics.  Eat foods that your great grandma would consider food -- things that grow. (she would recognize milk -- she would not recognize protein powder!)   Eat those foods in a manner your great grandmother would approve(sitting down with a napkin on your lap).  Eat in portions your great grandma would serve you.  (Have you looked at the size of a dinner plate from that era?  I have salad plates bigger than that! -- we need to get back to that size plate not the jumbo platters, at home and when we eat out, we're routinely served on).

If you want to manage your weight, you're going to have to change your behaviors -- forever.  But we don't need to complicate it with lots of scientific research.  God gave you a brain capable of understanding common sense....and that's all weight management is.  Don't over think, don't over-research.  Just start making your common sense changes.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Workplace wellness gets results!

Today, I read this:

Researchers analyzed 56 published studies and found that employers see an average savings of $5.81 for every dollar invested in wellness due to improved employee health and a reduction in medical claims. This number exceeds previous ROI figures of $3 to $4 for every dollar invested. The analysis also found that employers with onsite health programs see (on average):
  • 27 percent decrease in sick leave absenteeism.
  • 26 percent decrease in healthcare costs.
  • 32 percent decrease in workers’ compensation and disability claims.
“Organizations are doing everything they can to cut costs and increase profits, especially in this rocky economy, but many employers still fail to see the cost savings benefit in corporate wellness programs,” says John Golden, president of Core Performance. “What this analysis brings to light is that the benefits of corporate wellness are two-fold. It helps improve worker health and attendance, and it significantly helps improve company financial health."

I hope this research will motivate more companies to implement workplace wellness programs (who cares if it's for their own reasons if you get the benefits, right?)

But today, I'm going to ask WHY we see these results.

"Well", you think to yourself, "if my company supports me, I can be healthier.  If they create a walking path or a gym, I will have a chance to be more active.  If they put healthier lunch options in the cafe, I will be able to make better choices.  If they bring in professionals to help me learn how to integrate healthier behaviors into my routine, I will know what I should be doing!  If my company did that, I would be healthier!"

And I believe all those things to be true!  I would LOVE every employer to understand just how much the health and well being of their employees (all of them, not just the top brass) effect the company bottom line in actual dollars and cents (not just the warm and fuzzy of "employee engagement").

But, from my perspective, your employer can only make it easier for you to do what you should be doing for yourself anyway.  Take a look at your drive to and from work -- how many gyms are relatively close to the route you take on the way home?

How many fresh fruit and veggie stands or farmers markets? ( you know, the ones you always mean to stop at but never do....)

How many depressing news reports do you click on when you open up your computer in the morning when there are a plethora of reputable sources of health information out there?

We can all make different choices.  Workplace wellness programs work because your company mandates or incentivizes you to make the choices you know you should be making anyway.

We're grown ups (to one degree or another, anyway -- depending on the day). 

We have the capability to make the healthier decisions of moving more, packing a healthy option/portion-reasonable lunch, and hiring a health behavior change coach or trainer for ourselves.  We don't need to wait for our company to endorse a healthy lifestyles -- in the end, it's all on us anyway.  Why not start today?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's your normal speed?

"My car informs me that I've been averaging 26 mph over the last month. Much lower than I would have guessed.

It's low not because we don't drive on the highway, it's low because there's also a lot of time spent sitting still in traffic and at lights.

When we remember our journey and our work, the highlights are the fast parts, the thrilling moments, the peaks (and the valleys). It seems, though, that we spend most of our time in preparation, or circling, or considering. Probably worth investing some effort into our performance there, and enjoying those parts as well." --Seth Godin

Frustration is a big reason why people give up on health behavior changes.  Mindful eating is slow going -- lots of change happens before you actually see the physical results. (not to be discouraging but it's just a fact).

Most of the time, though, change is happening, albeit slowly.  We're averaging a much slower speed than we think we are because all that sticks out in our memory are the parts we managed to be mindful about.  But by definition, the stuff you were not being mindful about is the stuff you won't remember.

Just like the driving example above, your average speed of change is going to be slower than you expect -- but, again like the car, you'll reach your destination if you just keep going!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I like the way this person thinks!

Here's an idea in support of eating the good stuff (not "good for you" but TASTES GOOD!):

"A very interesting article published in the New York Times earlier this week goes into a detailed description of the efforts undertaken by the dairy industry to improve the nutrition profile of cheese.

As sworn turophiles, our ears perked and our tongues salivated with joy. Cheese, with thousands of flavors, textures, and names, is notorious for high levels of saturated fats, and in many formats is also high in sodium. Unfortunately, there have been few success stories:

“We’ve made some progress in that arena,” said Gregory D. Miller, president of the Dairy Research Institute. “But we have not been able to crack the code.”
Dr. Miller, whose group is financed by the dairy industry, was referring to efforts to reduce salt, but he had a similar appraisal of the challenges of low-fat cheese. “When you take a lot of the fat out, essentially cheese will turn into an eraser,” he said. Read more from the NY Times…

Apparently, cheese is not cheese without salt and fats. Removing them means adding other stuff instead. And those additives affect the flavor profile, mouthfeel, or shelf life of the product. While scientists continue to explore, we’d like to make a revolutionary suggestion that can cut sodium and saturated fat consumption in half:
EAT LESS CHEESE!

That way you can still have your favorite brie or cheddar, enjoy the luxurious flavor, and not fuss over the nutrients. An easy way to do this is to stop coating foods with cheese (mac n’ cheese, cheese sauces over veggies, etc…). But of course that’s not a solution that the dairy industry would like us to embrace."

Thanks to the editors of Fooducate for their thoughts!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Do something Friday

Think about the term -- A Low Reward Diet.  How's that make you feel?

In the Paleo camp, that means a diet that doesn't drive you to eat than your body needs (think high fat, salt, and sugar).  How often to you CRAVE (and subsiquently over eat) celery?  Or apples? Or beets?

**disclaimer: I'm not super up on which veggies are actually included in the Paleo idea of low reward so these are my examples and may not follow the ideas of some Paleo advocates ... or maybe they do -- I just don't know.

The point is we tend to over eat on things like chips, pretzels and dip, nachos, pizza, cake, candy, warm, crusty french bread..... you get the picture.  Because, by definition, they are high reward foods. They make the reward centers in our brain light up and boogie!  That's why we seek them out -- not for themselves but for how they make us feel.

Being that I love lots of different (high reward) foods, even though I can see the merits (from a weight control perspective) eating in a manner where food is just fuel and plays a much, much (or maybe no?) role in my emotional well-being, eliminating a majority of the joy of eating seems a steep price to pay just to fit into the next size smaller pants.  Maybe I'll live longer or maybe it will just feel that way (as the old joke goes).

So back to the proposition of Mindful Eating:

Eliminating the greatest number of calories with the least amount of sacrifice.

What if, instead of getting rid of all the high reward food, we got rid of all the low reward food?

To do this, we're going to have to pay attention to see what is most rewarding to each of us individually.  (you may not find french bread as rewarding as a baked potato with sour cream -- in which case, french bread could be a low reward food for you)

Even though it's high in fat, salt and sugar, you could figure out that the Snickers bar  we talked about the other day is a low reward food for you.  Stop eating it and it's no great loss (except to your waistline!)

That 44 oz Coke you swear is all that's allowing you to get through your workday -- maybe unsweetend ice tea could do the same thing. 

Do you really know where your rewards come from?  Or do you just assume you do?  Maybe it's time you start investigating and really find out.

And in a bizarre twist to the week....

My normally even sensibilities are being restored by a post from a Paleo proponent of all things!

Although I do believe Paleo-type diets may be a positive choice for some -- I do not subscribe to the idea that all of us should eat in this way (my enjoyment of life would be severely limited if I chose to eliminate some of our more modern foods -- like crusty french bread!).  I also find that many Paleo proponents make their diet choices sound more like a very cult-y religion and I want nooooo part of that, thank you very much!

But this post got me thinking about how stress (on an psychologicial level) effects our foods choices -- which in turn effects our stress (on a physiologic level) and round and round we go (or in the case of many of us -- round and round we become).

I've edited the post for length -- to read the whole thing, click here

We all know the daily stressors we encounter like traffic, money problems, and poor sleep. What people may not realize is that a diet that alters proper energy pathways can also cause stress. Improper glucose uptake and poor mitochondria function are two common examples of this. Another major cause of this is any type of anemia.

If a person is anemic it becomes nearly impossible to fix the damage stress has caused to the adrenals due to the lack of oxygen. In the absence of oxygen, glucose becomes our primary fuel through glycolysis. Glycolysis ends up burning through sugar quickly and this can lead to food cravings and hypoglycemia. Any type of inflammation can impact the mitochondria and affect ATP production in the cell.

**ATP is the "energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things.  ATP captures chemical energy obtained from the breakdown of food molecules and releases it to fuel other cellular processes."

When we encounter stress, our HPA axis increases its activity. Foods high in sugar, fat, and salt elicit a strong response from our opioids. Opioid release seems to be a strong defense mechanism to an overactive HPA axis (Tanja, 2007). Meal choice can directly affect mood. Certain foods can reduce anxiety and irritability and place us in a more positive place. This is due to the effects food can have on opioids, serotonin, and dopamine. Chronic exposure to foods eliciting these responses will down regulate our sensitivity to these transmitters and force us to eat more to elicit the same mood altering response. This can lead to weight gain (Gibson, 2006). 

**HPA axis is shorthand for the workings of the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands -- all involved in our stress response to lions on the savanna and the possibility we may have overdrawn our checking account.

Our reward system is masterfully set up to push us towards things that are beneficial to our survival, such as sex and food. The question I would like to ask is, what if all those times we reached for highly rewarding foods when our HPA axis was firing caused our circuits to be rewired to actually seek out these foods during times of high stress?

By succumbing to the cravings for salt, sugar, and fat during times of stress, are we changing the way our brain chemistry works so it is harder to resist the cravings next time we are under stress?  I think many of us (unscientifically, of course) would agree that sure is the way it feels!

So the author continues on with the idea that a solid stress management plan should accompany any weight management plan.  In today's day and age, who doesn't have stress that drives them to behave in ways they wish they didn't?

(and let's face it, even if you weren't stressed at all before -- working on mindfulness can be stressful in and of itself!)

If eating has been your go-to stress management plan in the past, what replacement stress management system have you put in place now that you've decided not to use food to do the job?

Until you figure that out, stress will always knock you off the path you are working so hard to be on.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

And the madness continues.....

So!  I just read a post reviewing a new study about self-control and how the brains of the study group responded to pictures of food after a 6 hour fast -- and then how that information corresponded to how many chips they ate after the brain imaging was completed.  One of the sentences that struck me was this:

 "Now the researchers are working on computer programs that will help train our brains to respond to food differently. So, ideally, Snickers bars will look less tempting and it’ll be easier for users to maintain a healthy weight."

You know what kind of training would make a Snickers bar less tempting?  The kinds that teaches us to actually TASTE the Snickers bar.  I feel fully confident is saying that most of you are eating gas station candy because you THINK you like it but you haven't ACTUALLY TASTED it in years.  And you know what?  If you did, I bet most of you would think it tasted GROSS most of the time!

Why do I feel confident in saying this?  Because I used to LOVE Snickers bars!  (and Twix and Peanut M&M's and Butterfingers and....you get the point).  And sometimes they are still ok/actually good.  For me, the change in tastes started when I started coaching, blogging, and practicing being more mindful so I would have enough to talk about on the subject. 

I started to notice that only 1 in 10 (ish -- disclaimer: this was NOT a sound scientific study) Snickers bars was actually fresh enough to taste really good.  (Think about this for a minute -- how old does a Snickers bar have to be so it doesn't taste fresh --- yuck! That's a lot of shelf time!!)

The problem was, I "knew" I liked Snickers bars.  So all I had to do was tap into autopilot  and my brain will fill in the gaps of experience missing from the actual Snickers bar of the day.  Once I took that layer of not paying attention away, the eating experience became a lot less pleasurable because I actually noticed the quality of the chocolate (waxy and low-end).  I noticed that often the bar tastes more like the wrapper than I would prefer.  I noticed that the peanuts tasted stale. 

And what I found was that the experience measured so much less pleasurable than I originally assumed, I was able to pass up the bar all together without feeling like I was missing out.

That's not to say I don't ever raid the Halloween stash and grab a Snickers mini.  It's just to say that more often that not -- the bar doesn't live up to my expectations and I find I seek them out less and less.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Now I'm just mad!

I just read the post "Is the 9 to 5 making us gain weight?" and my frustration level is reaching new heights!!

There's nothing wrong with the post -- Obesity Panacea puts out some great information on sedentary behavior and weight gain -- the thing that frustrates me is the title.

Your job is not MAKING you gain weight.  Yes, many of us are bless with jobs that don't required a massive amount of physical labor -- I don't know about you but I would far and away prefer to be sitting in an air conditioned office than outside digging a ditch -- on pretty much any given day!

It's the cause and effect notion of the title that gets to me.  Your job is not causing your weight gain.  Everyone in the world who does a job similar to yours does not automatically gain weight.  Sedentary jobs (or, as the study suggests, having a job at all, may be ASSOCIATED with weight gain for any number of reasons -- but it doesn't CAUSE it!

Your choices cause it.  (and to a lesser degree you genetics allow for it).  That drawer full of candy close at hand for mindless grazing cause it.  When you use your job as an excuse (yup -- I used the E word!) to fall onto the couch after you get home, your inactivity causes it.  When you stress eat because of the uncertainty you feel at work -- the eating causes it!

Please!  Deal with the real issue:  your choices!  Make any choices you wish but understand that some will help your weight management efforts and some will hinder them.  If you chose a hindering one, make sure you feel it's worth the trade off.....but PLEASE! don't blame your job!  If you're lucky enough to have one, don't make it the scapegoat for the choices that lead you down a path you don't want to go -- that just gives away your ability to change the situation.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thought for the Day...

Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might as well put that passing time to the best possible use. ~Earl Nightingale

Friday, August 3, 2012

Do something Friday

Be aware of the words you use....

Maybe you've already heard about the study that was recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research.  If not, the gist of it is that the words we use to talk about our decisions effect how we carry out our goals.

This particular study worked to determine whether it would make any difference to those who were trying to make changes to their eating patterns if they used the words, "I can't..." versus the words "I don't..."

I don't know about you but from my perspective -- I would rather NOT do something because I chose not to do it rather than not being allowed to it.  "I don't eat cake" is a much more self-empowered statement than "I can't eat cake".

What the researchers found was that those who thought in terms of "I don't eat cake" were 8 times more likely to avoid the cake than those who said "I can't eat cake".

If all it takes to increase the likelihood of your weight management success by 8x is to reframe how you see your decision from one that was imposed on you by external event (like your pants not fitting or your doctor telling you to lose weight) to an internal event (right in this very minute you are not the kind of person to eat that piece of cake -- doesn't mean forever...just for right this minute) -- isn't it worth a try?

I keep encouraging you to listen to your internal dialogue (not just react to it).  I hope this study provides you with one more concrete piece of evidence to show you what you think and say plays as much of a role in managing your weight as the healthy foods you stock in your fridge.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Learning how to identify physical hunger

Yesterday, we talked about understanding the absence of hunger.  I forgot to mention that you will not feel the absence of hunger as your eating...

IF YOU'RE NOT PHYSICALLY HUNGRY BEFORE YOU START EATING.

The reason for this is that physical hunger is a biological signal that triggers ones food-seeking behaviors. (and no -- all food seeking behaviors are NOT biologically driven!)

At a very basic level, what happens is this:

Your body senses that the fuels necessary to maintain your current state of activity are getting low.  Once that happens the brain signals for neurochemicals to be released causing us to feel hunger.  If the situation doesn't change, more of those signals are stimulated and more hunger registers.

Once we start to eat (some science is pointing to the smell of food being the first signal), intake of calories start to register as the food is being chewed which sets off chemical messengers back to the brain.  More signals on the progress of the food will be sent from the stomach.  More in from the intestines.  Once enough calories have been registered by the brain, it shuts off the hunger signal.

If you're not physically hungry -- there is not messenger cascade to turn off.  The first physical signal you are going to get is when your stomach registers it is being stretched(from too great a volume of food sitting there!).  So, after eating that (second) dessert after dinner at the neighbors, you won't register a cessation of hunger as a potential stopping point because you weren't hungry in the first place!

Just another reason to work on you use and understanding of the Hunger/Fullness scale!

You need to learn the difference between physical hunger and trigger eating.  You won't be able to use absense of hunger as a stopping point for eating if you weren't hungry in the first place.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another example of how recognizing hunger and fullness pay off

So the other day I ran to the grocery store across the street to grab my new favorite lunch  -- chicken salad! (I know -- not low fat -- but and soooo delicious!)  When I picked up the little container, it felt different.  Heavier? Bigger?  Did the price increase???

But, having my mind on other things, I shrugged off the odd feel of the container, purchased lunch, and headed back to the office.

Since I've done this for lunch before, I know I usually eat 1/3 to 1/2 of the container -- which leaves me the rest for another lunch on another day.

This time, as I was eating, I noticed when my hunger was gone  I had a lot more chicken salad left than normal.  Weird.

Fast forward to later that afternoon when I brought the container home and put it into the fridge.  Right next that the newly installed chicken salad container was a repurposed chicken salad container from a few weeks ago.  And guess what??

The new container WAS bigger than the old one. 

What would have happened at lunch had I been unable to recognize when I was no longer hungry?  There's a very good chance I would have eaten my usual amount of chicken salad -- 1/3-1/2 of the container....even though this container was bigger than the ones I usually ate out of.

Extra calories I didn't need eaten merely because they were there.

Plates, glassware, silverware, serving sizes have all increased in the last 30 years.  If you're running on habits and visual cues, you're going to overeat.  Everything in our culture is supporting overeating right now.

But your body won't.  No matter what size bowl you put your lunch in -- your stomach won't be fooled. If your eating mindfully, when you've eaten enough calories to let your body move on for another few hours, you'll stop feeling actual hunger (that's different than your mouth still wanting to eat -- but you know that already).

Arranging your environment to create visual cues to help you eat less is a great thing!!  But you can't totally control your environment.  That's reason enough, in my book, to work on your understanding of the Hunger/Fullness scale.....today!