Why Is My New Year’s Resolution Always The Same?

new-years-resolution-appleAt the end of December each year, I reflect back over the previous year looking at the highs and lows; the goals I set and didn’t accomplish along with the ones I did achieve.  Somehow my mind always wanders to my body or my body image and I reflect on the previous year’s goals.  The majority of the time they involve going to the gym and eating better and 90% of time I haven’t come close to meeting them.  And as inconceivable as it sounds I find myself making the exact same New Year’s resolution I wasn’t able to accomplish last year, again!

Does this sound familiar?  Many people find themselvesnew-years-resolutions-204044-530-569 stuck in this exact same loop, making the same New Year’s resolutions year after year.  In fact the top 10 New Years resolutions have to do with weight, the gym, and health. Do these sound familiar:  ‘I will work out at least three times a week, I will not eat any desserts, I will lose 10 pounds, I will get a six-pack, I won’t eat after 8pm, I will go to sleep by midnight, etc.’ Most of us enter the new year determined to achieve our goals of hitting the gym or watching what we eat, but why don’t the changes ever last through march?

Why? Because most New Year’s resolutions are emotionless and without any motivating or driving force behind them.

To change a behavior or a daily habit for a week or two is easy, however it is  incredibly difficult to sustain that change over a long period time or for the rest of your life if you don’t have a good reason to do it (and knowing youcalvin-and-hobbes should do it, isn’t a good enough reason for most of us).  Everyone knows they should exercise and eat better, but most of us don’t.  You go to the doctor and they tell you to watch the salt or to steer clear of fast food, but inevitably you go right back into those habits after the shock from the visit wears off.  So how do you make a New Year’s resolution that sticks? Make it personal and important.

So if you want to change your behavior or lifestyle here are some steps that can help you start 2013 off on the right track.

1.  Think of a New Year’s resolution and write it down. Example: I want to have better blood sugar control.

2.  Look at the resolution and ask yourself why it is important to you?  List your reasons.  Example: I want to live a long time and watch my son graduate high school, I don’t want to lose my toes or feet, I watched my mother die from the disease and I don’t want to go through the same thing.

3.  Now I want you to rate your reasons (1 being the most important, 10 being the least). Example: 1) My son’s graduation, 2) Don’t want my Moms end of life, 3) I want to keep my toes.

4.  Now that we have solid and important reasons to change our behavior and achieve our goal, I want you to think about how you can go about it, what will I have to change on a daily or weekly basis to make the goal work.  Write down ways you can meet your goals and be very detailed.  Example:  I will put out my finger sticks by the bedside table so I can test by blood sugar right when I wake up.  I will make an appointment with a dietitian to make a meal plan.  I will keep a log of my sugars every day.  I will switch from juice to diet soda.

5.  Excellent work, now we not only have a reason to make our change, but we have a detailed plan on how we are going to do it!  What is left?  How about some rewards?  Set-up some mini-mile stones and rewards (not food related) when you meet them.  This will help that motivation continue through the year until it becomes routine.  Example: I will take my family ice skating if my blood sugar stays below 200 for one month.  If I keep my blood sugar below 180 for three months I get to book my summer vacation. 

Remember you can make goals and revise goals throughout the year and use the same method to meet them.   So what are you waiting for?  Get started on your New Year’s resolution now and have the faith and belief that this time you are knocking it out of the ball park!

If-you-want-to-live-a-happy-life-tie-it-to-a-goal.-Not-to-people-or-things-Albert-Einstein

Full of Fiber!

Your doctor, nurse practitioner, or nutritionist may have recommended that you eat more fiber.  But why?  What is all the fuss about?  Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.  It is the part of the food that is not digested or absorbed (calorie free).  Instead fiber works hard to move food through our intestines and assists the body in eliminating waste products.  There are two forms of fiber, insoluble and soluble.  Most people, when they hear fiber think constipation, which is one excellent component.  Insoluble fiber found in green beans, dark green leafy vegetables, whole wheat products, wheat bran, and fruit and vegetable skins works to keep you regular and your colon moving.  It is your gut buster and constipation salvation!  Insoluble fiber stays mostly intact as it travels through your body, bulking and softening the stool as it moves along, decreasing your chances of constipation.  It is important when eating fiber to drink plenty of water; water is fibers sidekick in moving stool.

The second form of fiber is soluble fiber, which is found in oats, oat bran, nuts, ground flax seeds, beans, peas, barley, citrus fruits, apples, carrots, and psyllium husk.  Soluble fiber gets broken down in the intestines and turns into a sticky goo.  This soluble fiber gel slows down the time it takes the stomach to empty its contents, allowing sugars to be absorbed more slowly.  This is extremely important in diabetics, to help prevent huge blood sugar spikes after eating.   Soluble fiber also lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), reducing your risk for heart disease.

By adding more fiber into your diet you will not only become regular, but you will have better blood sugar control and will decrease your risk for heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Ways to increase fiber in your day.  Start your morning off with a high-fiber cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving, look for bran or fiber in the name.  Choose whole wheat or whole grain breads with at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.  Pick brown rice or pasta when cooking and add in some extra vegetables; spice up a pasta sauce with some spinach.  When baking, substitute all or some of the white flour with wheat flour, just make sure you add more water or milk to the recipe.  When reaching for a snack pick-up some raw veggies, fresh fruit, hummus, or some fat free popcorn.  And remember to accompany fiber with a glass of water.

I sneaky, low calorie, and delicious way to add fiber and veggies into your day is making a vegetable Tapenade.  A tapenade is a spread or dip of roasted veggies, great on sandwiches instead of mayo or dip in.

Recipe to be added soon:)

 

 

 

Check out this post on NYC’s Healthy Bytes website: http://healthbytesnyc.com/nutrition/full-of-fiber/

The Art of Snacking

I recently attended a panel discussion on snack trends in US women.   What I found interesting from the panel was the topic of people feeling embarrassed when they snack or the feeling that snacking is something to avoid.   Snacking is a component in the majority of people’s day, as it should be, especially if a person is looking to lose way.  Today I am spending moment to break down snacking and hopefully dissuade anyone from feeling guilty or uncomfortable when they have one.

What is a snack?  If you were to ask the person sitting next to you what they had for a snack you are likely to receive a milieu of different answers from having a cup of coffee to bag of chips to a piece of chicken.  I’m going to define a snack as a session of eating a small amount of food, 100-200calories.

Why to snack?  Everyone should eat every 3-4 hours.  This means that you may or may not need a snack or multiple snacks a day depending on the structure and length of your day.  Research shows that if you eat every 3-4 hours you are also less likely to over eat later in the day, you avoid having that ravenous feeling at dinner (especially important for anyone trying to lose weight).  We have all had the time when you get home from work starving, eat anything and everything in sight and still feel like you want food, despite your body being full.  Snacking is the #1 prevention of this problem.

When do I add a snack? If you were to have breakfast at 8, lunch around 12, and dinner at 4 and in bed by 8 you would not need a snack in your day.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who lives on those times, except maybe my 95 year old grandmother.   Your day should start off with breakfast, and no a latte does not count.  If you can eat lunch 4 hours after that then you do not need a snack.  If you can’t then you want to add one in.  The majority of people need to add a snack in the afternoon.  We are working longer hours and the time between lunch and dinner can be 6-7 hours apart.  A snack is clearly indicated here: having lunch at noon, but not getting home till 7pm to have dinner.

How to set up your snack times?  Take out a sheet of paper and a pen, write down the time you wake up, when you generally have breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Look at the amount of time between the meals, if it is greater than 4 hours you need to add snack.  Presto-Bingo, you have your snack schedule set up!  If you are at work, set a pop-up reminder for your snack time, this way you don’t have to worry about remembering.

What does a snack look like?  Now that we have the time scheduled for a snack, what should the snack be?  For most people it should be between 100-200 calories. That’s right a snack is not a large meal, but a bump along the way to ensure your body has the energy to get through day before you can have a full well-rounded meal.

Examples:

  • ~100-200 nuts (not salted or honey roasted)
  • ~Yogurt and fruit
  • ~Piece of toast w/ peanut butter
  • ~Hummus and veggies or a piece of pita (red pepper slices, celery, carrots all delish to dip!)
  • ~Piece of fruit
  • ~Trisects/whole grain crackers
  • ~Chocolate milk (great for after a workout)
  • ~LARA bar, Pro Bar, or other snack bars (Best to choose ones that have only whole ingredients listed)

To be a successful snacker, planning is key.   You not only need to know when you are going to have your snacks, but what they will be composed of.  If you don’t bring one in, where are you going to get a healthy snack?  Plan on planning to forget to bring a snack with you.  Keep a box bars in your desk or yogurt in a fridge.  Know what stores are around and who has good options for you.  PLANNING is necessary!

As usual, if you have any questions or comments post away.  Share snacks that you find enjoyable!

Tis the Season for Overeating!

It is that time of year! For festive family gatherings, some cutthroat snow ball fights, and a helping of over indulging!  Research shows that people average a 1 pound weight gain during the holidays.  Now that doesn’t seem too alarming, one pound… can use that New Year’s resolution of going to the gym everyday to burn that off in no time.  Unfortunately the research continues to say that this one pound stays on your body for the rest of the year, so slowly but surely that extra intake in December is adding a little extra to your waist line!  But have no fear there are some simple solutions and strategies to avoid needing bore a new whole in the belt.

                Feasts:  Many times over the holiday season you may be cooking, participating, and/or attending large gatherings where the sole purpose is it to make and eat as much delicious food as possible with family, friends, coworkers, etc.  These are wonderful events to reconnect, relax, and have fun; they can also be great places to overeat.  Some tips:  always have a snack before going!  I know some of you are shouting WHAT! But I have been fasting all day to eat everything I want at that meal.  Sadly, your body does not find this to be a wise plan.   Our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomach and our stomach requires more time to tell our brain we are full then it takes to eat 2-3 plates of food.

So before you head off to eat your fill, have some apple and cheese slices, hummus and veggies/pita, or a couple of dates and nuts.  I’m not saying to eat an entire meal, but some food that allows you to no longer feel starving.  Never go hungry to a dinner party!

Shopping:  Been to a mall lately??  They are mad houses, everyone dashing around the city trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on their shopping list.  Well yes, this can burn calories; unfortunately it opens you up to losing your personal time where you might have relaxed or exercised and creates an environment that makes easier to grab fast-food treats.  Solutions?  PLAN! Just like you made a list of gifts before starting your shopping excursion make a snack or two to bring with you on your trip.  So when the shopping gets tough and the lines are atrocious you can pull out a snack designed to make you healthy person.  Don’t give yourself the opportunity of picking up a warm pretzel, slice of pizza, or heaven forbid a Cinnabon.  With planning comes peace and success in weight loss and weight management during this season.

Think outside when you think gifts:  The holidays are a great time for family and friends to spend time together.  Buy gifts that involve being outside or moving.  Get a pogo stick for a kid, heck or even for an adult, I bet everyone will want to try it!  Put a hula-hoop or jump rope in a stocking… Think outside of the box.  Get airplanes that you have to shoot off in parks, which require you to fetch the plane when it lands far away!  Steer clear of the video/electronic/game system games that require little to no activity!  The holidays can be a time where the whole family is active together.  If it is snowy sledding, skating, heck snow angels are great ways to pass an afternoon!  Nothing says the holidays quite like watching football, how about arranging a fun pick-up game during half-time or before the game begins to get everyone excited!  Make your holidays filled with activity and your extra calorie intake will be balanced by your increased level of fun!

Be conscious!  The last tip I will leave you with is to be mindful of what you eat.  If you can do only one thing this holiday season, I would ask for you think about everything you put into your body.  Acknowledge that you ate 7 cookies had 2 glasses of eggnog or pumpkin pie for breakfast followed by a snack of candy.   The first step in having a healthy lifestyle is recognizing your current pattern, behavior, and activities.  Take a moment and say this is what I ate today, how do I feel about what I ate today?  You can even write down your feelings and food to reflect on the following evening.   This mindfulness is not to make yourself feel bad or depressed, but to recognize where you are now and where you want to be next year.  What can you control?  What could you try tomorrow so when you review what you had, you might feel better?  This is your life, what makes you happy?  What are your priorities?

I wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season!  Of course if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Water Weight Loss

Most Americans have tried dieting in one form or another.  Whether you have picked up the South Beach Diet, Atkins, Paleo, the new Dukan Diet craze, or just omitted foods on your own… you have heard and most likely experienced a sudden significant drop in weight – right at the start.  You hear that the sudden weight loss has nothing to do with fat loss, but water.  Most of us think, huh?  That doesn’t seem fair.  I haven’t been eating any of my favorite foods, I’m always hungry.  How could I NOT have lost real weight that the scale says I have lost?  What is this mystery water weight? Why doesn’t it count?  How come I can lose 5 lbs in one week and gain it all back in the next?   Today I am going to unravel the mystery of water weight loss.

In my post, What it Takes to Lose a Pound, I explained the basic principles of weight loss.  What calories are and how many you need to lose weight. Take a look to brush up on this information before continuing on.

I’m going to start by using an example.  Let’s take Mary, she is a hard working woman who has slowly gained weight over the last ten years due to an increase in stress, decreased activity, and increase in eating food out.  One day she hops on the scale, freaks out about the number and wants lose pounds immediately.  She runs to the nearest bookstore, gets the newest fad diet book that promises large amounts of weight loss in a snap and begins the next day with drastically reducing the calories she consumes on a daily basis. By the end of the first week, she is famished, miserable, but has lost 7 lbs!  She feels happy and satisfied with that amount and returns to her normal routine the following week.  By the end of the second week, Mary’s 7 lbs of weight returns and she is back where she started. Sound familiar?  Let’s breakdown this process.

First, anytime you reduce the amount of food (calories) you eat, you will get a loss of weight – whether it is cutting out fat, carbohydrates, or protein.  Every single day we take in different amounts of food and expend varying amounts of energy (calories burned). This is why if you weighed yourself every day, you see a different number on the scale.  Our bodies are constantly modifying and adjusting based on what we do and what we put into them.  When we have a continual decrease in calories for a couple of days in a row we immediately feel like we have lost weight (i.e., fat).  However, fat is not what we have lost.  Our highly evolved bodies are created to withstand days of decreased food intake without turning to fat as a calorie source.

Carbohydrates are the major energy source for the body; they are broken down into glucose (blood sugar).  Glucose provides our cells with energy.  Our brain relies solely on glucose!  That is why it is important that we always have some glucose in our blood.  There are two main ways we get glucose into the blood: 1) We can eat food with carbohydrates – an apple, a piece of celery, a slice of bread, etc. or 2) If we are not eating carbohydrates, our liver will release some glucose.  Now you may be asking, where did the liver get glucose?  Excellent question!  The liver (my favorite organ) has complex roles in the body.  One of those roles is to take up extra glucose after we eat and store it as glycogen.  This store of glucose is important in keeping our blood sugar level normal.  When we get really excited and adrenaline (epinephrine) is pumping through our veins, our liver releases glucose so our cells can make energy.  If the liver didn’t do this, you would become hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), could pass out, and if glucose levels were low enough long enough, you could go into a coma.

Another role of the liver is to break down protein and turn it into glucose.  Unfortunately protein is not a good source for glucose.  Only 58% of protein can be turned into glucose.  Our body needs protein; it maintains cell growth, regulates body processes, and makes up our muscles and organs.  When we don’t have enough glycogen, the body will start using protein to make carbohydrates, resulting in a loss of muscle mass.  The body does not turn to fat right away for energy.

So what does this have to do with weight loss?  When we go on these 5-7 day fast/diets our body does not see this as a weight loss plan, but goes into more of a starvation mode.  It goes WOW! What happened yesterday and today? I didn’t get as many calories as I normally do, I better use that glycogen I stored up.  So as the week goes by and we starve our bodies we use that glycogen to keep our blood sugar even and to ensure our brain operates.  Get excited, here comes the water part.  Glycogen is surrounded by lots of water.  When we use up the glycogen we are also losing that water (2 cups of water is 1 pound).  Combine this with some muscle breakdown and at the end of the week that scale is not showing a loss in fat, but demonstrates the water loss from the decrease in glycogen stores and muscle loss.  Now if we continued to restrict ourselves, our bodies would adjust their metabolic rate and weight loss would become reality.  Most people cannot handle these severely restrictive diets and I certainly do not promote them.  So when you go back to eating your normal diet after the weight loss, your body’s first response is to re-stock the glycogen loss, thus putting the “weight” back on.

There is one more component of water weight that I need to briefly mention and that is sodium.  Ever feel bloated after eating a large meal?  Yes, some of that has to do with eating way too much food; however it is also from the body’s reaction to the sodium intake.  When we eat salty foods the sodium goes into the blood stream making the blood concentration out of sync.  The blood likes to be in balance with water and sodium (electrolytes).  If we eat a lot of salt the body has to flood the blood with water to balance the shift.  It will take a couple of days to wash out all of the added sodium and water.  So when you switch from eating a high sodium diet to a diet low in sodium, your body will also lose extra weight.  This action will also be seen on the scale.

In summary:

Water weight = (glycogen+water) + small amounts of muscle + (sodium + water)

Please ask questions and leave any comments!

What it Takes to Lose a Pound

Our society is driven by image.  Every day there is a new pill or fad diet to make you look like a super model.  Unfortunately almost all of these diets result in people gaining back the weight lost! And those diet pills, OY! Do they have great marketing and no research behind their statements?  (Just so we all know the FDA does not regulate diet pills! SO NO ONE IS LOOKING AT WHAT IS INSIDE THEM) So I’m going to breakdown the basics of weight loss.  It will be free, factual, and simple.  I will also provide some helpful and proven tips to help you on your weight loss journey.  As always, feel free to email for more information.

Let’s begin with the calorie.  A calorie is a unit of energy, it is the energy

needed to raise 1 gram of water 1°C.  We use calories to show us how much energy we need to live, this includes the heart beating, nerves firing, tissue repair, building cells, etc.  This is why someone who is injured, burned, or recovering from surgery requires more calories… their body has a lot of work to do.  Now that we grasp the basics of a calorie and how we measure energy in the body let’s move on to how it relates to weight.

1 pound of fat

First, one pound of body weight is equal to 3,500kcals (calories).  So to lose 1lb in one week you would need to decrease your calorie intake by 500kcals everyday… hmm that is simple enough right?  If I want to lose 2lb I would have to restrict my intake by 1,000kcals/day… wow that doesn’t leave a lot calories left to eat!  Fortunately we don’t lose and gain weight simply by what we ingest, but also from how much energy we expend (remember we need those calories (energy=food) to function).

We burn calories by moving.  Walking or running a mile burns roughly 100 calories.  So to lose the 1lb you could walk 5 miles each day or cut 250kcals/day and then walk 2.5miles/day.  Well that seems a bit better right?  When it comes to losing, gaining, or maintaining your weight it is calories in versus calories out (expended).  We eat 2000kcals and burn 500kcals, we have a loss.  We eat 1500kcals, but watch TV all day; perhaps you gain or maintain your weight. The amount of calories you need depends on your sex, weight, height, activity level.  To find out the calories you need on a daily basis you should talk to your nutritionist, they can calculate and test your metabolism (daily calorie need).  As mentioned above, more than happy to help and calculate your metabolic rate just send me an email.

        3  Simple Tips for Weight Loss:

1. DON’T skip breakfast!  I know you have heard this before but it is real.  People who skip breakfast are more likely to overeat in the evening and are more likely to be overweight.

I hear some of you saying “I don’t get hungry in the morning.”  Well, you want to know why you aren’t hungry in the morning?? Most likely it is because you ate too much at dinner or late at night.  You should feel hungry after sleeping! That is normal.

2. NO SODA NO JUICE!  We add lots of empty calories through beverages everyday.  For some of us it is soda for others a double caramel macchiato.  When we have drinks that are filled with calories we don’t feel full, don’t gain nutrients, and generally don’t count them as food.  So DON’T waste your calories on them.  Drink water, it is delicious!  Have a cup of coffee with a tsp of sugar instead of those calorie packed Starbuck’s stimulants.

3.VEGETABLES!  I know, I said the dreaded word, but vegetables are your best friend!  To lose weight try to fill half your plate with vegetables, they are low in calorie, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals.  THEY are the best!