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Tag Archives: weight loss

Step Into The Sun, Step Into The Light

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It’s been four weeks since we; stubbed out our last cigarette, scarfed our last overgrown cupcake, corked the bottle, and put on sneakers. How are we doing? Have there been some slips? Have there been any results? Well there’s some bad news and some good news. Bad first? Well, three weeks is when a new activity really loses its aura of novelty. The excitement of starting something has ebbed. Now it’s just doing the activity. If you haven’t seen immediate or significant results you might just be thinking; “one donut never hurt anyone.” You may have started a convincing inner dialogue of “Ya know four weeks is a long time. I showed I could do it if I put my mind to it. This is just a bad time for me. I’ll pick it up again when…” And you’d be right. January is a dumb time to change physical behavior. So are you ready for the good news? A new behavior becomes habit at five weeks. That’s right, you are almost at the sweet spot. This doesn’t mean that in one week you will awaken to a svelte non-craving new self. It means that it will no longer feel like a virtual living hell on earth to engage in your resolution behavior.

Instead of simply enduring this last week of drudge, let’s use it to tweak ourselves.

If it’s tobacco that you are trying to excise from your life, do you have proper support? Have you seen a doctor (who might suggest nicotine patches/gums?) Do you have a (smoke-free) buddy you can talk to/hang with? Have you cleaned and made uncomfortable all your smoking spots? Have you eliminated or altered smoking triggers (that after dinner coffee, those work breaks, the commuting)? Are you putting your cigarette money somewhere visible? Have you earmarked your new wealth for something? In just one week you are going to feel incredibly proud of yourself! You’ve made real and considerable strides in prolonging and improving the quality of your life. And your skin is going to look so much better.

If comfort foods have made you much too comfortable you may be questioning your resolve right about now. It’s January! A long dark month quite simply designed for massive doses of carbohydrates. But we’re four weeks in, so dammit it’s full steam ahead. If you’re interested in losing more than 20% of your body weight, you’ve seen a doctor, yes? Have you banished all processed/sugar infused/empty calorie food and beverage from your home/bag/car/desk/pockets/nightstand/locker? Good. Do you write down any and everything that passes your lips? You must. Food amnesia is the single biggest weight loss sabotage. You may be eating/drinking at times and not considering the calories. That overpriced latte? It’s not coffee it’s a hot milkshake. The glass of wine (or two or three) after work/with dinner total real calories. The birthday/retirement/fertility office party cake? Eating with people you don’t particularly care for does not burn calories. There’s nothing wrong with overpriced coffee, wine or cake. There’s only something wrong with mindless eating. It will get you. Now have you found a nice substitution for the afternoon snack/wine? Perhaps some flavored teas? Maybe lighting a scented candle is all the sensory comfort you need. The only way permanent behavior change works is if it doesn’t feel punitive. Consider adopting one or two new (or forgotten) behaviors that would feel rewarding.

Have you noticed that your workout clothes aren’t being washed as much as they were a few weeks ago? Is all the treadmill/stair-master/soul cycling very dull? Does real life get in the way? You’re not a failure; you’re just not a hamster who is perfectly enthralled with walking to nowhere. It’s time to find what makes you happy. No really. There was probably once a time you enjoyed playing/moving. Did you love to dance? Was it double-dutch that made your heart sing? Figure it out! Find the adult 21st century equivalent and do it. No one is watching and no one cares. The only way this is going to work (and it will work) is if you enjoy what you’re doing. Maybe you love learning new things? Use that to your fitness advantage. Take on new and complicated activities on a regular basis. Fitness is not a chore it’s time for yourself and a wonderful way to feel (and stay) alive.

Changing behavior in any real and lasting way is not easy. (If it were the world would be a much nicer place.) We all want (in our heart of hearts) to be our best selves. Often our best intentions are stymied by the pesky existence of others. But we do have complete control over how we treat our bodies. Physical behavior change that will lead to a healthier (and perhaps happier) you is attainable and within reach.

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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Well-Being

 

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Exercising A Resolution

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January is not the time to try and lose weight. It is dark, most of the country is cold and television is just starting to get good again. Yet people will flock to gyms and weigh-in centers by the droves. Fitness clubs and gyms are crowded and annoying for the first 3-6 weeks of the year. Diet (processed) food companies have been rubbing their hands together in glee for weeks (January 1st is their Black Friday.) The diet industry is a gazillion dollar industry, and if it worked it wouldn’t exist. All that said, if you insist upon changing your physical ways in January, it’s nice to have an encouraging coach:

Input

Most people fall into one of two categories of food relationships: “all things in moderation” and “restrictive” eaters. The former orientation allows for tweaks or portion control when looking to adjust the bathroom scale (which is meant only euphemistically as a bathroom scale is nothing more than an evil monkey and/or a terrific place to stub your toe each and every morning.)

The “restrictive” eater habitually refers to food (or their own eating habits) as “good” or “bad.” Their relationship with food is based on what it represents emotionally rather than what it does for them physically. Eaters in this camp have a more challenging time changing food behavior. Booking a few visits with a registered dietician could be a life altering experience for these eaters. Developing a layer of consciousness about nutrition and one’s specific physical needs could permanently alter food relationships. Eating will always have an emotional component, but like all behaviors there should be intellectual underpinnings.

Output

If there is any doubt that physical movement is as necessary as oxygen, visit a retirement community. The quality of life is vastly different for those who have moved throughout their lives and those who spent more than a few hours on the couch. A lifetime habit of motion is a wise investment. The key to any lifetime habit is to discover what one enjoys. For those who are blessed with a true passion for athleticism, the options are endless. For the rest of us we must overcome boredom, awkwardness, or (sigh) a childhood trauma of being picked last.

The first step toward the “movement as habit” goal is to ignore the rules. It isn’t that “weight-bearing” is not a fabulous tool to promote bone density; it is simply that too many rules can discourage one from any attempts at movement whatsoever. Simply put aside all notions of “duration,” “intensity,” and “method” for the moment. The second step is finding something to do that’s actually enjoyable.

You probably know if you are energized by the presence of others or not. You also have a sense of whether you’re a free-range person or one who thrives in regiment. For the socially motivated, fitness classes may be just the ticket. For the truly adventurous, there are teams to join. Volleyball, baseball, and bowling offer varying degrees of activity and socializing. The social factor may also be addressed by organizing one or two friends once or twice a week. Walking and exercise dvds are a wonderful background for conversation. For those most inspired when alone, anything is possible. You are beholden to nobody’s schedule or preferences. Put on the headphones and dance like there’s no one watching, buy a jump rope, go for a walk/run, or take up bicycling. The most important factor in any activity is that the body is moving and the mind is enjoying it. This will ensure that the behavior does indeed become a habit.

An important note regarding one’s diet and movement regime; know your true body size and do not distort it. Trying to outsmart one’s nature is simply an oxymoronic endeavor. An inflated body is as unhealthy and as frightening as an emaciated body. One’s head should not tower over one’s frame. No doubt several examples of such oddities come to mind; it would simply be too cruel to mention them here.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Well-Being

 

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Just Say Know

A new diet pill is about to be approved!  All our cares are about to be over.  This magic pill (approved by our very own Federal Drug Administration) will put an end to our nation’s demise d’jour; obesity.  The drug is not new, its approval is though.  The drug hasn’t changed.  It’s still a wonder pill which; a) causes tumors in rats b) damages (human) heart valves c) and doesn’t cause much weight loss.  Happy Days are indeed here again!

So why, after 13 years of diet pill drought, is the F.D.A. approving a drug they previously deemed not worthy of approval?  Why do we think.  Peer pressure is not just for teenagers.  There are (to my way of thinking) only two diet pill designs that could work.  A medication can either prevent or eradicate the absorption of calories or it can render a person incapable of eating (i.e., create permanent nausea.)  It’s hard to fathom how either of those approaches can be safely achieved (not to mention why anyone would want to risk malnutrition of feel permanently car sick.)  Why then, with all the diseases out there, would the F.D.A. (or any drug manufacturer) spend time and resources on this endeavor?  Money.

Insurance companies would be all over a diet pill.  Individuals will be clamoring for it.  Can you imagine the advertising?  I’m picturing men and women being unchained from their heft, the sound of angels, an appearance of a rainbow, and the hushed rushed intonation of “may cause tumors, death and does not lead to significant weight loss.”  Good times.  (An aside: There was a time when cigarettes were marketed to Americans as a weight loss device.)

Might I suggest that if the federal government has fear of being left behind in this 21st century scourge, that the Department of Agriculture steps up?  A simple labeling policy that sets a limit to the processing a food can undergo and still be deemed food, would change our country.  There is precedence for this kind of intervention.  There was a time when anything could be sold as juice.  It was only through the intervention of the government that our nation began to enjoy “drink.”  If ultra-processed foods were deemed the equivalent of “drink” they could no longer be served to children in federally subsidized programs.  These ‘food-like’ products could not be purchased with any funds linked to the government at all.  Food-like items and purveyors would be limited in their advertising and marketing.  The trickle down would mean a shift in product placement in movies and television.  Amusement parks, movie theatres and other holding tanks for children would identify food and food-like products.  Children would grow up knowing the difference between; whole foods, processed foods, and food simulated products.

It seems so easy doesn’t it?  No chaos, no chastising, no food pyramids getting mauled into new shapes.  So why isn’t this happening?  Money.  It is very hard to become morbidly obese from eating real (21st century) foods.  It is also not all that profitable to grow/produce and sell whole foods.  But you know what’s really profitable?  Selling products as food (with all the subsidized benefits that implies) with enormous mark-up, that’s what.  There isn’t much room for mark-up on a head of broccoli, but on frozen and boxed food, the sky’s the limit.  Without sounding too cloak and dagger, there is a lot of money at stake and not just for the pockets of the food producers (conspiratorial wink here.)

Yes there are greater nefarious doings going on in the world.  But every time a government entity waves the banner of the “Obesity Epidemic” we are reminded that we are supposed to keep our eyes on the banner, and never ever look behind it.  It seems that whenever we declare “war” on a social ill, it’s actually a sign that we’re giving up.

 

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Lose Pounds and Inches Fast!

“Eat our processed food and lose weight!”  “Join this gym and lose weight!”  “Take this pill, shake, herb, tea, suppository, and lose weight!”

And they’re off!  New Year’s is the weight loss industry’s black Friday.  Many millions are reaped throughout the year, but it is January that does wonders for the industry’s bottom line.  As our nation has grown in size so has an industry filled with an abundance of promises and zero standards.  How has this happened?

Whether one considers excessive weight to be a health, behavior or public issue is somewhat secondary to the point that the market feels free to exploit the situation.

If you feel that being overweight is a health issue, what do you make of reality television shows featuring obese contestants being humiliated as a means to bolstering their health?  Do we watch smokers and drinkers being humiliated on reality shows?  Do we honestly think that this programming is not solely about the viewer’s entertainment?  How did other people’s heartbreaking struggle with a health issue become fodder for our entertainment?

If you feel that being overweight is the result of an utter lack of self-control, what do you make of products that reinforce that disconnect between outcome and behavior?  The “behavior” camp asserts that maintaining a healthy weight is the result of not consuming more than one is using.  A sensible diet and a moderate amount of exercise is the permanent method with which to control weight.  If the federal government believes this (and they seem to) why then are companies allowed to sell snake oil?  Why doesn’t every advertisement for Nutri-Jenny-Fast have a big black box across it stating “Eating our fake food is not sustainable & your behavior will not be changed by our program.  You may in fact lose weight while you are our customer, but most people gain it back immediately after leaving our program.”   Too big brother?  Remember, we now have warnings on aerosol bottles to dissuade people from huffing.

If you feel that the public health of our nation is at risk, then we really have to talk.  Whether we should start with the corn subsidies or food labeling, or school lunches makes for good dinner party conversation.  But so do dinner parties for that matter.  All of our habits, from the decline of dinner tables to carbo-loaded toddlers while they burn zero calories riding in a stroller, to wheels on sneakers (children don’t even walk anymore, they roll,) it’s all up for scrutiny.  What about processed foods designed specifically for children?  The baby food industry started the trend with “toddler” jarred foods.  Apparently toddlers find real yogurt and bananas to be daunting.  As they get older, the food industry has graciously provided, fake cheese, yogurt with candy, processed breaded chicken nuggets, lunchables and colored flavored drinks.  For those in the public health camp; why is this even tolerated?  We regulate pill bottle caps, cribs, car seats, window blind cords, but not the food sold for our children?  We are cultivating a lifelong appetite for fake food.

It is a terrible burden to feel as if your size is standing in your way.  Feeling as if your own body is the enemy is an exhausting way to go through life.  For anyone pulling on their new sneakers and heading out into the unknown this January, I say Brava!  It is physics; the first steps are the hardest.  Keep at it, and in about six weeks it will be the new normal.  Eat real food, celebrate meals, enjoy life and save your money.  There are no shortcuts and the only magic is discovering your own strength.

 

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing

 

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