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.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thought for the Day...

We can reverse years of damage to our bodies by deciding to raise our standards for ourselves, then living differently. Old wounds heal, injuries repair, and the whole system improves with just a few changes in what we put into our bodies and how we move them.”   --author unknown

Friday, October 5, 2012

Do something Friday

Lately, it seems I've been hearing a lot more about the importance of connection.  That's not new to any of us -- it just seems I (and consequently you) have been hearing things that underscore the importance of each one of us knowing we are not alone in the world.

Yesterday, I asked you to do something hard (do you even remember what I asked you to do?).  To underscore my commitment to this task, I'm going to ask you to live out loud again, click the comment button below this post and write out what it is that drives you to eat.

Just like when we did this a couple weeks ago, you don't have to leave you name.  You can post your comment ananomysly.  But write it out -- there's a great chance that someone out there is feeling the same way you are.  And if we know we're not alone -- it's much easier to do the work we know we need to do!

Be Brave, dear friends!  Stand up for yourself and for one another!  To connect, you have to be willing to set aside the way you wish to be to be who you actually are.  You can do it!

**instructions for commenting:

If you're reading these words on the Eating Coach site, click the "Comments" button below this post (if you're the first brave one, it will say "No Comments" and it's right below the post next to my name (hint: it's NOT the envelope icon).

If you're reading this via an email subscription, click here to visit the site and follow the directions above.

Once you have the comment box open -- write out your "What's eating you" statement. You don't need to have any particular account to do this. You don't even need to leave your name.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Temporary solutions to permanent problems

The other day, I read a beautiful post written by Christa Black at Pick the Brain.  In it, she talks about how she tried to used perfectionism to heal the hurt in her life....and how that didn't work.  She makes the point that love is the only things that really heals us.

As humans, we are built for love and connection with each other.  When, for whatever reason, this is limited or severed, we suffer -- physically and emotionally.

Her post goes on to talk about a lot of things, the imperfect people in our lifes, the distractions we use (food, drugs, our work, eating disorders, money.....) that actually work for a little bit but in the end prove to be "temporary solutions to permanent problems".

Don't you think it's time to get to the permanent solution and make the problem become temporary?

To do that, you need to be able to verbalize what the problem is.

Is it that you mindlessly graze on whatever crosses your path because .....  because of what?  What is taking up so much of your brain space that you're willing to let that impact your health and ability to enjoy your life?

Is it that you use food to escape.....what?  Stress of work?  Stress of life?  Sadness you feel about a situation?  Worry?  Fear?  Shame?  Loneliness?

I know it's uncomfortable to delve into this kind of thing -- that's one of the big reasons people eat -- to distract themselves from having to think about what's bugging them!  So, yeh! If you're delving into this, it's gonna feel uncomfortable.  But, as Brene Brown said a couple weeks back, "Lean into the discomfort."

Once you identify what's eating you, you can deal with it so it no longer has the power to drive you to eat.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

12 Week Fitness Challenge

Are you impatient?  (No....not you! Me, neither! Not ever ;)

At some point, everyone reaches a tipping point where we need to stop piddling around with whatever it is we have been "trying to fit in".  At that point, we have the choice of taking the bull by the horns or letting go of our dream.....

Here's an opportunity to grab the bull by the horns.   The best FC in the world (mine!...but I will share with you!), has a new program:

This program will start you off with a one-to-one goal setting consultation.  If you're goals can't be clearly verbalized, you won't achieve them!  This meeting makes you clearly define and commit to what you are trying to achieve in the next 12 weeks.

Next, you will get 12 weeks of training based on your goals.  You'll work hard AND you'll get results -- no dinking around here!

You'll meet with a dietician to make sure all your eating plan is supporting your goals.

And all of this is done with the help, support, and attention of a staff that supports your success!

Are you ready to commit 12 weeks to changing the rest of your life?  It could be as easy as a phone call Jen (269.552.2340) or send her an email ( today!

(because you know what else is 12 weeks away?  The holidays! -- get a jumpstart on your New Year's Resolution!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Keystone Habits

In the last few months, I have gotten to do a decent amount of research on the formation of habits.  Habits can be our bane or (sometimes) the only thing that keeps us afloat.  Interestingly enough, researchers have found that some habits create a disproportionate amount of change in our behaviors.

These small-but-mighty habits are called keystone habits.  Keystone habits are new habits that act as the tipping point for other habits.  Take, for example, the interaction between making healthy changes to our eating habits and creating an exercise habit.

Interestingly enough, changing a small eating habit (let's just say you give up soda -- either sugared or diet....).  Paying attention to that one habit makes it much more likely you will start to change other habits -- like parking a few spots further out in the parking lot. 

Or let's say someone starts attending the lunch hour walking group at work.  After making that one small change in their routine, it is pretty common for that person to start (little by little) making small changes to their diet -- maybe they skip the trip to the vending machine one day because they grabbed an apple off the counter and stuck it in their pocket on the way out the door.

In these examples, the giving up soda and the lunchtime walking acts as keystone habits.  Other small positive health behaviors tend to grow out of positive dietary and small activity changes.

There are a myriad of reasons why this might be.  Perhaps the person feels more confident because they already achieved one small victory so they feel they can achieve another.

Perhaps when they engage in a new behavior, they start to notice other people making the same choices and they integrate themselves slowly into a community of people making similar changes.

Maybe, because we are feeling so good about our success, we want to experience another gold-star moment, so we look for other small changes we can make to get that same rush.

Whatever the reason -- it happens.

If you are struggling to overhaul your diet -- if it's just too hard -- maybe that's not the best place to start.  Maybe you'd be better off starting with adopting an exercise habit.  Or, conversely, if you're struggling with an exercise habit, maybe you should refocus on your dietary choices.

Or.....maybe you do need a deep dive into healthy behavior changes?  We can help with that too!  Check back here tomorrow to find out how!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Thought for the Day...

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.  --ZeFrank