Thursday, January 5, 2012

Repost–Healthy Weight Loss

For last week all over facebook, blogs, and twitter the talk has been about new years resolutions, dieting and exercise. If you are a long time reader you may remember that I did a wellness series two years ago. I thought it would be beneficial for me to repost my original post from it on nutrition and weight loss. Please feel free to email me or leave questions in my comments if you want to chat!


A short two and a half months  years ago I became a stay at home mom to a beautiful little boy. Prior to that I graduated from Penn State with a degree in nutritional science and worked in the field of cardiovascular nutrition research. When I moved to Indiana I made a career change and started working as a health coach for a large employee wellness program. I predominantly worked with men and women who wanted to make lifestyles changes to achieve many goals such as weight loss, management of cholesterol or blood pressure, or overall improve their health with a balanced diet. During this time I also became a trained wellness coach through Wellcoaches and a licensed Am I Hungry? workshop facilitator. I am thrilled today at the opportunity to share some of my insight with you all.

The Am I Hungry? program is one that gives me such energy. I believe that it is the answer many people have been looking so hard to find for so long and yet it has been right there in front of them their whole lives. For years I have observed people struggling with their weight, trying every fad diet that came around, only to lose the weight but have it sneak back on, plus an extra 5 pounds in the end. I knew that there had to be an explanation why I had seen so many people like this yet I had also seen people who ate what they wanted and never struggle with their weight; what did they know that the other did not. For years I pondered this question to myself and when I found this program it was like a light bulb that had been in my mind for so many years finally illuminated and I had my answer.

So let’s ask ourselves one question, what do we do when diets don’t work? The answer is easy. Stop dieting! Scary thought for most people isn’t it?

Yo-yo dieting is very common. It is where we swing between a restrictive diet and overeating. What Am I Hungry? teaches us is that there is a mid point and we can actually swing like a pendulum rather than a yo-yo. We don’t either have to be on a diet or not on a diet, restricting ourselves and feeling deprived or overeating and feeling guilty but rather that we can eat what we love and love what we eat by regaining our freedom from food and once again becoming an instinctive eater.
The prime example of an instinctive eater is a baby. Each and every one of us was born with the innate wisdom to eat when we were hungry and stop when we were satisfied but through the years and through our experiences became disconnected with that wisdom and began to eat for many different reasons besides simply nourishing out bodies need for fuel.

The disconnection comes in two forms: when we start eating and when we stop eating. Let’s first talk about when we stop eating. How many of you have heard this one before “finish your plate there are starving children in (insert said country)” or “finish your dinner if you want dessert”? What is this really teaching us? It is instilling in us to stuff ourselves pass the point of satisfaction; that in order to gain a “treat” we need to eat to an uncomfortable state and then add on top of that the “treat” we had been eating towards. Remember, naturally thin people are not part of the clean plate club.
Now let’s talk about why we start to eat besides true hunger. Ask yourself, what are some of the most common reasons you eat? Do you eat when you are bored, stress, happy, sad, glad, mad, frustrated….as it turns out we eat for many reasons. When cravings trigger us to eat, food will never satisfy us and more times than not emotional or environmental triggers lead to overeating because when our bodies are not telling us we need food (with true hunger) how do we know when to stop? Usually when the bag or box is empty, when we are uncomfortably full, when the movie or TV show is over, or when someone interrupts us. When we feed our bodies food when it is not asking us to feed it it (our bodies) has nothing to do with the food except store it as fat.

Through the years we also tend to lose what it feels like to feel hungry and what satisfied is. Take the time to re-identify what it feels like to be both hungry and satisfied. What does true hunger feel like to you? You may feel a hollowness in your gut, have hunger pangs, you may get a slight headache, you may not be able to concentrate; all of these feelings are true physical feeling NOT thoughts. You don’t need to eat because it is lunch or dinner time you only need to eat when your body tells you it needs nourishment through physical feelings.

Every time you feel the urge to eat ask yourself “Am I Hungry?” if the answer if yes then eat until you are satisfied; no longer hunger but not stuffed. If the answer is no search inside to find where the urge is coming from; are you bored, stressed, did you just see a commercial for the new Big Mac Wrap, are you feeling tired? Then YOU have a CHOICE you can choose to eat anyway with the knowledge that you are eating for reasons other than hunger, you can redirect your attention (works great if you are bored or procrastinating), or choose to meet your true needs. Meeting your true needs is a process in which you identify your trigger(s), accept it without judgment, strategize ways to eliminate the trigger, and take action (no matter how small the step it will be in the right direction).
So many of us say that we can’t lose weight because we LOVE food but in reality we don’t show food that we love it at all. We often eat distracted by the TV or computer, we eat fast or on auto-pilot. Many times we finish eating feeling like we just began. If you LOVE food show it by eating mindfully. Sit down at the table, turn of all distractions, savor each bite, and notice the taste, temperature, and texture of the food. Put your fork down between each bite; doing this will allow you to focus your attention on the bite in your mouth, not the bite you are filling your fork with.
Put a sign on your refrigerator and pantry that reads “IF YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY WHAT YOU NEED ISN’T IN HERE”.

Overall Tips

Develop a wellness vision for yourself. Paint a picture of what you see yourself doing at your best self? What are the most important parts of that picture?

What is your motivation? Without being modest what are the reasons you want to achieve this goal? What makes now the time? How is this time different than before?

What are your values and how do they a line with your goals? What are your strengths and how can you use then to achieve your goals?

What are your barriers? Create strategies to overcome these barriers before you are face to face with them.

What is your support system? How can you get your support system involved from the beginning?

What is your accountability? Is it a friend, family member, a coach, a blog or a journal?

Accountability is key in the beginning for setting yourself up for success.

What is your reward? Set up small rewards for yourself along the way.

Set SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, action based (not outcome), realistic, and in a time frame. An example of a smart goal would be “This week I will walk 1 mile before dinner on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.” This goal is specific because it is to the point exactly what you will do, it is measurable because it is one mile on those three days, it is an action (walking), it is realistic, and in a time frame (this week).

Menu plan! Once a week (most people picked Sundays so they can use store flyers and coupons) sit down and plan out ALL your meals for the week, breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks. I suggest writing a family menu, list all the meals your make on a regular basis. To create your menu for the week you can use your family menu and cookbooks for inspiration. As an example, you can have three meals from the family menu, two new meals from a cookbook, one dinner out, and one leftover night. Do not shop when you are hungry! Shopping with a list and when you are not hungry will decrease your impulse purchases and save your money!

Watch for calories not just fat. There is a common disbelief that if I eat low fat products you will lose weight. We refer to this as snackwells syndrome. Many many many low fat products are just as high in calories as the regular product. When it comes to weight loss what it all boils down to is calories in (food) vs calories out (what our bodies burn naturally and with exercise). In order to lose one pound of fat you need to create a 3500 calorie deficit. So when selecting food at the grocery store compare based on calories.

Increase the activity in your daily life. If you have a pile of stuff to take upstairs don’t jungle it all in order to make one trip, take up one at a time; simple things like this will burn extra calories and your won’t even feel like you are exercising. If you like watching TV and hate exercising dedicate the commercial breaks to walking/running the steps in your house, running in place, going jumping jacks, or sit ups. Find activities that you enjoy. Experiment with different classes such as dance aerobics, yoga, or pilates or different workout DVD’s such as Walk Away the Pounds. If you find something you enjoy you are much more likely to stick with it.

As I come to the conclusion of this post I am still filled with so much information I want to share. Instead of cramming everything into this one post I am going to break it up into weekly installments. There are SO many nutrition myths going around and I would love to be able to clear the air on many of them.

1 comment:

Jessica @ This Blessed Life said...

I LOVE this! I'm totally putting that quote on my fridge RIGHT now!