Category Archives: Weight loss

CHANGE YOUR HABITS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Chances are there is some behavior you’d like to change relating to exercise, weight loss, sleep, money, productivity or relationships. “If we change our habits, we change our lives”…claims author Gretchen Rubin in her book Better Than Before, Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of the Happiness Project, graduated from Yale Law School, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, then quit a lucrative career in law to write, it turns out, about happiness. In her second book, she decided to expand her research to delve into habits because she found peoples’ happiness to be closely tied to them.

From informal research with friends and family on changing habits, Rubin was struck by what works for some gets the opposite results, even resistance, with others. She says we all face “outer” expectations (meeting deadlines, etc.) as well as “inner” expectations (exercise regularly, etc.). To describe how people respond to expectations, Rubin developed a framework defining four distinct groups within which most people fall, The Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers or Rebels with the idea that understanding yourself will help you shape habits and strategies that work for you.

Here’s a brief description of the Tendencies:

  • Upholder – meets BOTH inner and outer expectations, is good at keeping commitments, following a schedule, keeping New Years resolutions
  • Obliger – meets outer expectations but RESISTS inner expectations, will meet obligations to colleagues, family, friends but has difficulty self-motivating and sticking with it without outside accountability
  • Rebel – resists BOTH inner and outer expectations, likes freedom and choice, doesn’t like to follow routines, resists habits but will work towards goals in own, unique way
  • Questioner – meets inner expectations but RESISTS outer expectations, is motivated by reason and logic, may need to do own research before buying in

If you’d like to figure out your own Tendency, take this quiz:

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3163256/Gretchen-Rubin-s-Quiz-The-Four-Tendencies-Fall2016

Better Than Before covers a wide range of topics relating to habits. Here’s a summary of some of the points she makes.

  • You might need to change a bad habit (going to bed late) before you develop a good habit (exercising in the morning). Habits in the areas of sleep, movement, eating and drinking right, and uncluttering are foundational for well being and reinforce each other, so if you want to lose weight, for example, you may need to get enough sleep to have energy to change the way you prepare food and eat. Exercise boosts energy and mood and helps you sleep better. Alcohol interferes with inhibitions and disrupts sleep. A favorite saying of Gretchen’s is, “Outer order, inner calm” – she advocates reducing clutter to help foster a sense of self-command. It might surprise you to know that making your bed is considered by many sources, including this book, as a definitive way to improve your own self discipline and well being.
  • Monitoring behavior can be a powerful way to promote change. For example, studies have shown we tend to underestimate what we eat and overestimate how much we exercise. Logging our food intake or writing our exercise minutes on a calendar is often motivation for change. A related activity is accountability, being held accountable to an outside source. Examples are weigh-ins at Weight Watchers, meeting a friend at the gym to workout. The simple act of scheduling habits on your calendar, like times to workout, eat meals, can reinforce behavior. If you want to lose weight, do you allow time in your day for shopping, meal prep and eating to avoid having to grab convenience foods and eat on the run?
  • Sometimes we can be struck by what Rubin calls a Lightning Bolt, an action that results in a sudden habit change. Watching a documentary like Food, Inc. could change your relationship with meat forever.
  • Important to know about yourself, are you an abstainer or moderator? Abstainers find it easier to give up something altogether, like strictly following a diet plan, than by allowing deviations. There is no sense of deprivation when the issue is off the table totally. By contrast, moderators may feel heightened deprivation from a restricted diet; an occasional indulgence might strengthen their resolve to continue healthy eating.
  • Changing one’s environment is helpful, such as packing your gym bag the night before, cleaning out temptations from your home or creating storage space to help keep organized. Move the candy jar off your desk at work.
  • Lastly, stumbling blocks are everywhere. It helps to have a strategy ahead of time for tempting situations. Develop “If…then” scenarios, “If this happens then I will______”. Rubin describes the biggest enemy, a variety of types of Loop-hole thinking, arguments for why we should be excused from following a good habit, why we should make an exception such as… I deserve a day off. I’ve lost weight so I deserve a reward, etc.

Hopefully this will help you think about your habits and consider changing some to improve your life! To learn more you can read the book, Better Than Before, follow Gretchen Rubin’s blog, or listen to her weekly podcast (links below).

Blog: https://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/tag/blog/

Podcast: Happier with Gretchen Rubin: http://gretchenrubin.com/podcast/

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Eat Healthy and Exercise – Corporate America (in this case Embassy Suites) Makes It Hard

During my recent stay at Embassy Suites in Chicago I witnessed hundreds of people, mainly families, piling on “free” breakfasts. In my visits to the tiny gym I saw 0 to 4 other people.  I wish for a cultural shift where the family attraction doesn’t have to be unhealthy food, where fitness could even be an attraction.

Breakfasts consumed were huge and not nutritious. I don’t remember seeing a vegetable. True, some healthy choices were offered which the platters of food didn’t reflect. Clearly a culture of get-and-eat-as-much-as-you-can prevailed. It wouldn’t have been so disturbing if most of the adults and children hadn’t been overweight, a sign that it’s not just at Embassy Suites where poor food choices are made.

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Don’t we all know how to eat? The message is everywhere, it seems to me. Michelle Obama sure has tried.

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We can’t blame Embassy Suites, can we? Don’t we all know the price we pay from poor diets and excess weight (heart attacks, diabetes, joint pain and injury, high blood pressure, etc.)? But where do we start to change the culture in America? Corporations can take the lead. Can you imagine less food, paired down to the healthiest options, with a bigger, more visible gym, maybe even with a section for kids?

Take a look below at CEO of the Worldwide Hilton chain (owners of Embassy Suites), Christopher Nassetta .

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Here’s the CEO of Embassy Suites, John Rogers with celebrity Brooke Burke- Charvet at an event held at Dylan’s Candy Bar promoting family travel at Embassy Suites.

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Whatya bet you wouldn’t catch them eating platters full at breakfast, and I’m guessing you’d meet them in the gym. CEO Christopher Nassetta loves to cook and is known for visiting kitchens in Hilton hotels. I urge him to infiltrate the dining area of the Embassy Suites on N. State Street in Chicago and see what people are putting on their plates.

I don’t know the answer to changing our breakfast culture. Why do I care? I guess it’s wanting to have pride in being an American. I want  an America on the cutting edge of health, a country of people taking the lead in eating less, wasting less, and exercising more.

 

More from Michael Pollan:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?pagewanted=all

More about CEO, Hilton Worldwide, Christopher Nassetta

http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/turnaround-ceo

Get the Most Out of Your Walking

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Here’s a link to an EXCELLENT article on walking! It details how you can change variables (speed, hills climbing, arm pumping, and more) to get the most out of your walking minutes. The tips on posture and stride  are excellent, as well.

http://www.superskinnyme.com/how-to-lose-weight-walking.html

 

Protein and Vegetables to Start Your Day

Trying to cut down on carbohydrates? Try this quick egg puff for breakfast.IMG_2471 IMG_2472

Saute veggies in olive oil in frying pan, add beaten eggs, a tiny bit of cheese (or none), seasonings, and cook slowly over low heat with a lid. Poof. A puff. A cross between an omelet and baked egg.

More and more evidence that reducing carbohydrates in our diet is healthful. Time to rethink oatmeal, toast, cereal or smoothies for breakfast and think of ways to get vegetables and protein into that meal.

Food Rules,  a short book by Michael Pollan

“We’re very confused about food, … which is weird. I mean, what other species needs experts to tell them how to eat?”, says food expert/journalist  Michael Pollan in an NPR program interview. The more he studied about food, the shorter his book, Food Rules, became. Not advocating for one ideal diet, Mr. Pollan wants us to steer away from processed food and towards plant based foods. That simple.   “Populations eating a remarkable wide range of traditional diets generally won’t suffer from (chronic Western) diseases ” and, “People who get off the Western diet see dramatic improvements in their health.”

Eat food, he advocates. Real food that is. Here’s some of my favorite rules; theres’s 64 altogether  in the book:

Part I:  What should I eat? (Eat food.) Like me, your definition of food might change by the end of this chapter.

  • 5. Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients.

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  • 6. Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.
  • 7. Avoid food products containing ingredients that  third-grader cannot pronounce.
  • 12. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
  • 13. Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

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  • 19. If it came from a plant, eat it; it was made in a plant, don’t.

Part II: What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants.)

  • 22. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
  • 24. Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs, and other mammals).
  • 27. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
  • 29. Eat like an omnivore.
  • 35. Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature.

Part III How should I eat? (Not too much.)

  • 44. Pay more, eat less.
  • 45. Eat less.
  • 47. Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored.
  • 53. Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds.
  • 55. Eat meals.
  • 56. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant food.
  • 57. Don’t get your fuel the same place your car does.
  • 60. Treat treats as treats.
  • 63. Cook

This short 140 page book is packed with wisdom you won’t soon forget. It was one of the books and documentaries that changed my eating forever.

Links:

Michael Pollan- Ted Talk

Michael Pollan- NPR interview about his new book, Cooked

http://www.npr.org/2013/04/21/177501735/fire-water-air-earth-michael-pollan-gets-elemental-in-cooked

Michael Pollan- NPR, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me program

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128417647

Learn more about that old Twinkie here-

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/21/news/hancock/38-year-old-twinkie-worlds-oldest-still-a-sweet-treat-at-blue-hill-school/

 

What to Eat Between Meals When You’re Really Hungry

HERE’S SOME GOOD, HEALTHY SNACKS….

Healthy eating including healthy snack options takes planning and shopping. Here’s some easy to eat, fast snacks, most of which are protein,  vegetables or fruit. I love this idea of a healthy snack drawer in the frig (skip the packaged food) which came from the blog, Life is Sweet…in Kindergarten.

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  VEGETABLES

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  • Cut and prepped ahead in refrigerator so that grabbing to go is convenient (see previous blog post)
  • Add peanut butter to celery stalks
  • Dip in hummus, yogurt or guacamole

APPLE SLICES

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  • Use an apple slicer
  • In a to-go container, add peanut butter and a knife to spread it (add a napkin, too)

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  • Slice the apple horizontally and add peanut butter, raisins, walnuts, or your imagination then cut in pie shaped slices

ALMONDS, NUTS, SEEDS, TRAILMIX (without chocolate or other sweet additions)

  • Pre-measure a small palm full into a to-go container to avoid over eating
  • Buy almonds at Trader Joe’s where they come prepackaged
  • toss raw sunflower or other seeds with olive oil and bake

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 AVACADO

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  • half an avocado with squeezed lime and sprinkled with spices of your choice

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  • avocado toast with cottage cheese and tomatoes

HARD BOILED EGGS

  • Pack in a to-go container
  • Add tomato slices and scallions or chopped basil leaves

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EDEMAME with sea salt

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TURKEY ROLLS

  • spread with mustard and capers
  • roll olives inside
  • try avocado slices in the middle

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  • with cheese in the middle and a tomato on top

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  •  between slices of cucumber with flavorings of your choice

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SWEET POTATOES

  • baked half with a small amount of butter and walnuts or pecans
  • slices tossed with olive oil and sea salt and baked

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RICE CAKES

  • spread with peanut butter with banana slices on top

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  • topped with avocado, tomatoes, turkey, or your choice

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FRUIT

  • any kind in moderation
  • banana dolphins

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Ok, maybe this is for the kids, but I couldn’t resist. Aren’t they cute! (from blog I’m Just a Wife)

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE GO-TO AND TO-GO HEALTHY SNACKS??? LET US KNOW BELOW….

 

Healthy Eating for Weight Loss – think twice before taking that bite

The best way to lose weight  is to eat meals robust in protein and vegetables and to assure our daily consumption of carbohydrates (complex!) and fats are within recommended guidelines. Tracking what you eat can be revealing.  The USDA MyPlate is one source for guidelines on a healthy eating plan. Below is a link to the USDA site, which includes a resource for online tracking of the food you eat. Two other programs are included, My Fitness Pal, and Spark People. There’s lots more out there, too. Each of them will let you know what food group you may be over consuming.

We’re all busy and the thought of keeping track of everything we eat and getting familiar with a new program might seem daunting, however, the effort, if you are serious about losing weight, is worth it, even if only for a few days. Weight Watchers and other proven-to-be-successful programs include a food tracking component that brings greater awareness to what you’re eating. Try it. I promise that knowing you’ll have to log (admit ) to what you eat will make you think twice before taking that bite.

 

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http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories.html

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http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/expert-articles-and-videos.asp

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http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

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