Deciding To Decide To Lose Weight

I thought I had decided to lose weight 1000 times. But by the end of the day, I was right back to where I started from, only to face the next morning with the same remorse I had the previous morning. I didn’t realize that something deeper was going on, and that losing weight wasn’t a value for me but it was an ideal. I wanted it, but I didn’t want it badly enough.

A VALUE is something that we recognize as good and worthwhile, and we choose to have it in our life NOW by sacrificing other things. In contrast, an IDEAL is something that we recognize as good and worthwhile, and we want to have it in our life sometime in the future, but we are not willing to sacrifice for it right now. The key word here is “sacrifice”.

Some people say that eating healthfully is a value, yet they regularly make poor choices in restaurants and in the grocery store, or they may often eat junk late at night or frequently skip meals. For them, eating healthfully is an ideal, not a value, because they are not spending time creating a healthy diet in their lives. If they did spend time working on a healthy diet in their lives, then it would become a value – and a reality.

We choose those values that impress us favorably. Ideals are those other things we hold in esteem, but we don’t currently work to attain them. We may not look at a particular value in terms of our overall behavior, and we may sometimes confuse our values with our ideals. In addition, we may think that a particular ideal is a value when, in fact, we do nothing now to show that value’s importance in our lives.

Strong values are defended intensely, whereas weaker values are more easily compromised. Sometimes we think something is a value, but since we don’t sacrifice time for it, our behavior indicates it is really an ideal. But we can always choose to change our behavior.


Are You A Fast Food Junkie?

“I don’t care what’s in it. I just like the way it tastes.” 
Have you ever heard those words or said them yourself? I certainly have. There have been numerous occasions I am ashamed to recall, where I knew I should have looked at that label, but I didn’t. Why? Well, you know why! But for those of you who don’t know why, the reason is this: I didn’t want to learn exactly what I was eating (the fat, calories, sodium, additives and other junk)because I knew that if the ingredients were bad, I wouldn’t want to eat that thing anymore. I wanted to stay in the dark about the facts so I could continue with my bad behavior and enjoy that thing.
What I know now is that learning about the substances I put into my body is a positive thing. The knowledge I glean can help me make more nutritionally sound choices, I will be healthier for life and feel better, too. But if I still choose to eat the bad stuff, well, at least I know what I am feeding my body.
If you would like to know more about the impact fast food has on your body for example, you can easily obtain this information. There is much evidence about the negative long-term impact it has on one’s health, and you can find out in different ways (labels in the restaurant, Google, blogs or other dietary websites).
And while we’re on the topic of fast food, a very entertaining book about this topic is, Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want To Know About Fast Food, by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson. And a DVD you won’t want to miss is “Super-Size Me”.
Food quality and good nutrition are not things fast food restaurants are known for. You may be shocked at how this food is processed along with all the artificial flavors and colors added to it. If you really love your fast food but know it isn’t good for you, then try to cut it back by just one time per week. So if you go 4 times, you will only go 3. Then go from 3 to 2, and so on. You will find that over time, you will lose your desire for it and feel so much better.

Alcohol: All Or Nothing vs. Moderation: Part One

I think I’ve had a lifetime supply of alcohol. I had my drinking days and my party days. I had my share of hangovers. I decided to quit completely because it was easier for me to not drink at all instead of trying to moderate. Well honestly, I couldn’t moderate: I tried! And when I tried to moderate, I usually blew it and drank more than ever before.

I don’t really understand why, but I have heard that approximately 10% of the population has an allergy toward alcohol. What this means is that when any alcohol is consumed, it creates an irresistible craving for more. I can definitely say that this was true for me.

I went from drinking alcohol to not drinking alcohol at all: cold turkey. No tapering off for me. And it was tough. I went through a sort of psychological withdrawal.  I didn’t stop drinking to lose weight. I didn’t go “on the wagon”, only to return at a later date. I changed my lifestyle for my personal well-being, and for no other reason. But I will say that I am leaner as a result of abstaining from alcohol.

Most people are probably A-OK with drinking every now and then, and some will be okay with drinking many days a week. Only the individual can say whether he or she has a problem with alcohol, and then take the actions necessary to stop.

Why “take the actions necessary to stop?” Why not just stop? This my friends, is the difference between someone who couldn’t care less if alcohol existed and someone who really wants  (needs?) it most days. For the latter, in order to stop, it will probably take a little more effort than just “not drinking”.

Alcohol can be deceiving. Someone can have a problem with it and not want to admit it. But not admitting one’s problem will only make it worse.

Next post, I will discuss the physiological effects of alcohol and how alcohol can thwart your goals in weight loss.

Making Rest A Priority

      It seems the older I get, the more complex life becomes. 
      I think the most simple time in my life was when I was single, working full-time and living alone. I dated, but wasn’t tied to anyone or anything. I ran my own schedule, controlled what food entered my abode and did my own thing.
     Then I began dating my husband-to-be. We dated 4 years, and that was exciting. We got married into a life that was different for both of us. Although the complexities of living with another person added to some increased stress in both of our lives, it was well worth the sacrifice – and still is.  
     About 8 years later, we had our first and only child, although we didn’t plan it that way. We intended to have more children, but God had a different plan for us.
     With this child, life got really complex in multiple ways – fast! It was well worth the sacrifice – and still is. And I’m certain there will be more complexities to come!
     One constant activity for me throughout all these life changes is exercise: it keeps me sane and happy with my body. But one thing I realize I need more of is rest. I struggle with the idea of getting rest, meditation, relaxation and good sleep. It hasn’t been a priority, so I tend to put it last on the list, “Oh, if I get time, I’ll sleep in” or “if I get a quick 20 minutes, then I’ll do some meditating”. It’s as if I know it would do me well to indulge in these different forms of rest, but somehow, I never make it a priority.
      With all the complexities of my life, my body now demands different (better) treatment. The exercise has been a constant, but the rest has not. I have taken my health and my body for granted too long, and it’s time for a change.
    I recently decided to get on a schedule of meditation. I have tried several ways to do this and come up with this conclusion: every day is different, so the meditation can’t be the same every day. I can still get it in, but it may not be at the same time. And this will be my challenge. All I know is that all forms of rest are more of a priority with me today.
    Are you one of those who, if something is on your mind, you cannot sleep? What if you had a disagreement with your spouse and it is yet unresolved? How about a crucial appointment the next day, a test or a presentation? If I can’t sleep, then I have found that meditation can be a sufficient substitute.
     There will be an ebb and flow of rest for most of us. Some nights we will sleep well, and other nights we won’t. Even if you can’t find time to meditate or even if you don’t want to meditate, the main thing to remember here is to not go too long without some kind of quality rest, because a lack of quality rest will break down the immune system and we can get sick or be more susceptible to illness.  Sweet Dreams!

What’s Your Daily Water Quota?

     How much water do you drink a day? Do you follow the 8/8 rule: 8 glasses of 8 ounces each day, or do you follow another system? Do you just drink water when you think about it, or are you aware of how much you have already consumed and how much more you might want to consume on any given day? Or do you not pay attention to water at all, but know you should do something to drink more each day?
      I have seen people carry around a gallon jug with them all day long, and they drink from this until it is gone. Personally, I would feel a little silly carrying around a gallon jug of water, so that wouldn’t work for me.

     And I don’t believe in a universal formula for water consumption either, because the quantity needed for an individual depends upon his environment, age, weight, lifestyle and time of year.
     But I do believe that everyone should establish their own water “quota” to drink each day. A water quota is a “minimum amount of water you require yourself to drink every day, with few exceptions.” Many folks I work with set their water quota at about 100 ounces a day. This is approximately 3 liters, and it’s easy to measure with bottles of purified water. Others follow the 8/8 rule. Still others consult with their doctors to get their quota.
     A tip that may make drinking water easier for you is to carry a bottle of water with you at all times. Bring it with you when you get in the car or run an errand. Choose water when you dine at a restaurant. You will be surprised at how easy it is to reach your quota when you include water with the activities you already do.

     There is such a thing as drinking too much water: it’s called hyponatremia, and it is extremely rare. I wouldn’t concern myself with drinking too much water. Not drinking enough is far more likely to happen!
     If you want to increase your water intake, don’t go from one extreme to another. Increase it gradually, and listen to your body, for your body will be your ultimate guide.

How Can I Lose Weight By Eating More?

Seems impossible, but it’s true. When I say eat “more”, I mean “more frequently”, not “more quantity” in a single meal. But by the end of the day, the total quantity of food eaten might actually increase compared to the total quantity eaten with someone eating fewer meals per day.

Here’s how it works. I’ll show you with an analogy and a multiple choice question:

Consider a steam locomotive that is powered by burning coal. How often and how much should you put coal in the furnace to insure the longest, smoothest ride, in addition to the longevity of the engine?
a. The total daily amount of coal is placed in the furnace at the beginning, middle OR end of the trip
b. The total daily amount of coal is placed in the furnace at the beginning AND the end of the trip
c. The total daily amount of coal is spaced out, starting from the beginning of the trip and placed in the furnace at regular intervals throughout the trip

This was a gimme. I know you guessed “c”, because it makes sense, doesn’t it? If you didn’t guess “c”, post a comment, and I’ll explain it.

Our bodies work the same way as this locomotive, and they function best with small amounts of food eaten at frequent and regular intervals.

So how do you get there from where you are? How many meals do you eat per day, on average, right now? 3? 2? It doesn’t matter. Just begin by increasing that number by 1. Work with that number of meals for a few weeks (~21 days to establish a habit) and see how you feel. I’d bet that you begin to look forward to the meal, and your body might even be hungry for that meal!

But how do you lose weight this way? The magic is in the metabolism. When you eat smaller, frequent meals – every 2 1/2 to 3 hours – your metabolism changes. It speeds up, because the body is like that locomotive. And when your metabolism speeds up, guess what? You burn more fat at REST! You lose weight almost effortlessly. The effort you put in is in the planning and preparation of your meals.

If you are skeptical, try this for 21 days and let me know how it works for you.

Luncheon Meats Versus Natural Meats

I’ve never known someone who successfully lost weight eating luncheon meats. Anyone I know of who has had success in weight loss has done so eating natural, unprocessed meats. Why is this?

Sure, those luncheon meats are convenient. They taste good, too, and you don’t have to prepare them. But what we get in convenience and taste, we compromise in nutrition and health:

1. Sodium: processed meats are high in sodium to prolong shelf life. High sodium can wreak havoc on someone trying to lose weight or lower their blood pressure.

2. Nitrates: saltpeter and a hormone disruptor. This additive has been blamed for early menstruation in young women.

3. Nitrites: cancer-causing. With all the talk about how to eat to prevent cancer, how many of us are still eating these cancer-causing foods because they taste good?

4. Fat: believe it or not, some processed turkey can have more fat (as a percentage of calories) than some red meats! Unless it says “turkey breast”, it probably isn’t 100% turkey breast. And if it isn’t, it is probably a pressed turkey made from lower quality turkey parts and skin.

Check labels. Read ingredients. Know what you are putting into your body. And if you are in a deli and don’t have access to the label, it might be a good idea to do a u-turn!

I ate soy “meats” for years when I was a vegetarian. I never could understand why I had a harder time dropping body fat while eating these processed meats. Now I know, so I hope you learn from my mistakes!!

Fast Food Addiction?

I admit, I have never been one to frequent any fast food chain for a meal. In fact, the last fast food meal I can remember eating was when I was in High School. I ate a hamburger, fries and shake while sitting in the establishment. I remember not eating for the rest of the day, I was so full!

I didn’t acquire the habit of eschewing fast food restaurants because I had a pristine diet; it was a matter of money for me. However, I am glad that it happened the way it did, because I don’t have the addiction to fast food today. And yes, I call it an addiction. Let me explain why I think it is so.

Have you seen the movie, “Super Size Me”? Or have you read the book, Chew On This? These are two sources that peaked my interest earlier in my life, and they led me to look for answers in other places as well.

I have learned that there are so many additives in the ingredients of fast food. What is an additive, anyway? An additive is any salt,  preservative (BHA, BHT), nitrate, nitrite, artificial color, artificial scent, artificial flavor, filler and emulsifier – the list could go on. And they seem to be getting longer and longer, too! Most of us probably know nothing about any of them, so we tend not to think about them. But that doesn’t change the impact those additives have on our bodies. If I were to guess, I would say that they are either unhealthy or nutritionally unnecessary – at best – and, at worst, harmful to our body and our health.

That’s the physical part. But the physiological part is that some of these man made ingredients can cause an addictive reaction in the consumer’s body, causing them to crave more.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think these fast food companies intentionally put these things in the food so that you will buy more and more of their food? Don’t put this past them! They are out to sell and make a profit, and your health has nothing to do with it.

You don’t have to be a chemist to know that these things can have a negative impact on your body. And if you decide that you don’t want to contribute to the profits of these establishments and contribute to your ill-health, it may be hard to completely eliminate the habit at first. Suffice it to say, the less you eat processed foods, the healthier you will be.

Here’s something to try for a month. Let’s say you eat fast food 5 times a week, Monday – Friday. What if you were to cut it back to M/W/F? On T/Th, you could brown bag it and stay in the office,  or you could get a smoothie. If you did this, you would cut back this unhealthy habit by 40%!  Now that’s a change that would get results! Then, after that, if you liked how your body responded to this new habit, you could just make Fridays the fast food day. Wow! I would love to hear feedback on this experiment, so let me know your thoughts. Good luck!

Circumstantial Triggers

   How do you react to sudden, unexpected “events” in your life?
For some, these “events” – whether good or bad – can trigger an impulse in us to eat. 
   For example, if our boss gave us an unexpected bad review, we could take that home with us and eat over it. Or maybe we got stuck in a traffic jam and were late for an important meeting. The frustration with this has the potential to stay with us all day. What if we had a fight with our spouse that morning, or experienced any other unexpected unpleasant situation out of our control? Is the food a stress-reliever for you in these situations?
   When we are caught off-guard with life’s “bumps in the road”, and if we already have a tendency to abuse the food, then any food can become a trigger, and this is a circumstantial trigger. 
   Circumstantial triggers can cause overeating of any type of food, leading to a portion control problem. And this problem can be more of a behavioral issue rather than a substance one – or, it can be both, depending on what food is consumed. In either case, if we are prone to reacting to these events by overeating, then what we really need to do here is recognize our emotion preceding the first bite and then deal with the situation differently.
   Here is an exercise: take a moment to list at least two circumstantial triggers you have had recently, that you ate over.  Simply becoming aware of the things that bother you will be your first step in overcoming the tendency to eat over them. Listing these triggers will become red flags for you to recognize, so that in the future, you can avoid getting into trouble with the food.