Friday, January 30, 2009

Don't Go Too Low

In the efforts to ‘get the weight off’ as quickly as possible, it’s important not to drop your calories too low. As I discuss in the blog entry listed here, “Determine Your Daily Calories,” there are healthy calorie calculators that indicate, for your particular height and desired weight, the proper number of calories to take in each day. Dropping the calories too low will backfire because the body is apt to go into starvation mode, shutting down its metabolism, resulting in NO weight loss at all. And even if you can get away with lower calories for awhile, eventually your cravings will kick in and you’ll end up standing in the pantry or in front of the refrigerator in an out of control binging frenzy, not to mention that hardly eating anything is just dead boring! What kind of life is that?

One to two pounds a week is a good healthy weight loss. I’m talking long term, steady, consistent. I know that’s frustrating when you wake up one morning and decide you really want to do this, have the motivation, the desire. You want the weight gone – now! But slashing your caloric intake or, Heaven forbid, going for one of these advertised plans that claim you’ll lose 20-pounds in 1-2 weeks, are not only ridiculous - they would be dangerous if they really worked. And trust me, they don’t. Think of it, if they did, none of us would be overweight.

So go slow and steady. You didn’t put on the weight overnight - don’t expect to take it off that way. As baby boomers, the days of extreme dieting to fit into that dress for the prom is over. Those of us who are still going for the cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, Hollywood liquid diet plans, are just fooling ourselves, -because with that kind of dieting, if you lose it, the weight always comes back – sometimes twice as much.

No, this is a lifestyle change. It’s weight loss for the purpose of good healthy maintenance so we feel good about ourselves and don’t have weight-associated health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Be smart. Be sensible. Look great!

Monday, January 26, 2009

What You Wear Means Something

So, what did you wear this weekend - or generally on your days off - when you’re going to the movies, the bookstore, or just running to the market for a quick quart of milk or loaf of bread? Are you dressing rather ‘casually’ as some of us like to call it – read ‘sloppy’ – because you want to be comfortable?

I think our need to feel comfortable is part of what sometimes gets us in trouble. We don’t want to feel constricted so we put on those stretch pants. The problem with stretch pants? There are no boundaries. We can eat that second helping of casserole or slice of pecan pie because there is nothing pushing back against our waistlines to tell us it’s not a good idea.

Let me suggest that dressing better makes us feel better about ourselves in the long run and actually goes a long way to encourage us to stick to our better eating habits. I can understand wanting to be comfortable around the house, but when you have to go out, even for a quick trip, please re-think the idea of going out a little too comfortable, (egad, I've seen some women in pajamas!) Imagine this: you’re in your sloppy sweats, an old tank top and sweater, and flip-flops – just making a quick run into Target for that quart of milk I mentioned. You round the corner and bump into your ex with his new girlfriend. She looks great, by the way. Feel OK about what you’re wearing now? What’s that? You say you don’t care? Of course you do. The best revenge is to look good.
You don’t have to be a Skinny Minnie to look great, either. I’m talking a nice pair of jeans with a pair of flats or heels (no sneakers or flip-flops please) and a nice top that fits - nothing slouchy. (If you dress slouchy, you’ll carry yourself that way.)

You look great and are on your way to looking even greater because you’re changing yourself for the better – eating less, losing weight, feeling good about yourself. You have every reason to stand up straight and walk with pride. Let it show in how you present yourself to the world!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Something to Drink, Perhaps?

As I may well have stated here before, I really don’t like to drink water. Sure if I’m thirsty enough I’ll drink lots of it, but I have to be quite thirsty in order to want it. That’s not good as our bodies need lots of water to stay healthy and it also is a good way to fill us up when we think we’re hungry. In fact, some experts claim that sometimes when we think we’re craving something to eat, it’s really that our bodies are in need of water.

I could drink diet soft drinks, but all that carbonation isn’t good for bones. No, instead I’ve found a solution that not only gets me to drink more water, I enjoy it. It’s those to-go style drink mix-ins you may have seen in the water/fruit juice section of the market. Several manufacturers now have them: Crystal Light, Lipton, Wyler’s, Hawaiian Punch, I’ve even heard All Bran has got into the act, although I’ve not seen the product on the shelf.
Of those I’ve tried, however, my favorite is the Market Pantry brand. It’s Target’s brand. It comes in a red and white box, I think it tastes terrific and it’s generally cheaper than all the others. It’s also lower in calories than some, as it has none while Crystal Light has 5 calories per serving. You get two servings in a 16 oz bottle of water. The newest flavor of Market Pantry that I’m trying right now is grape. It’s really good!

If you’re already drinking plenty of water, that’s great, keep it up! But for some of us who need another arrow in our quiver to battle hunger, this can definitely help.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hunger Brain!

The biggest battle most of us have who are trying to control our eating habits, isn’t with food, it’s with our brains. What goes on between the ears, that voice in our heads that says, well, gee that cookie was really good, I think I’ll have just one more and then yet another. It’s not about being hungry. It’s about that food to mouth feel when we crunch down, or the way the chocolate melts in our mouth, or the salt or sweetness on the taste buds. Sometimes it’s a matter of having something to do. We're bored, we're upset, we're facing things out of our control so we'll do something we can control, even temporarily, and that makes us feel good. Only problem is, compulsive overeating is as much an addiction as doing drugs. The fix feels good at the time, but the damage done makes things overall, even worse.

Distraction can actually be your friend in this regard, getting busy doing something else. I don’t care if you call a friend, straighten your office files, clean out the kitchen junk drawer, anything that will get your mind on something else long enough for that ‘itch’ in your head that’s telling you "Just one more piece of candy," to pass.

The eating battle is within us… between two separate people: the person who wants what they want when they want it, by golly, no matter the consequences, and the person who knows better and knows what’s best but also knows that most times logic won’t triumph until after the deed is done and we’re trying to figure out how not to do this next time. It’s a daily, sometimes hourly battle. Hang in there because when you DO triumph, when you do go to bed without late night overeating, it feels so terrific!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Making A Commitment

Whether you decided to make it a New Year’s Resolution or not, taking off the weight takes commitment. It’s not something you can approach haphazardly. I’ve been guilty of that, too. You SAY you’re going to diet. You’re determined to do it. But every day, you cheat just a little. You tell yourself you’re going to write down everything you eat, and then about half-way down the page, as in half-way into the day, you sneak something that you don’t really want to write down. You tell yourself, you promise yourself, you’ll write down everything else, just not that cookie/handful of Ritz crackers/bag of cashews, it doesn’t matter. But that little secret keeps you from being completely honest with yourself. And worse, it allows you to do it again - and again. It's a form of self-sabotaging your goal while all the time saying out loud to yourself and others who'll hear you, that you are cutting back, you just don't know why you can't lose the weight.

If you’re going to really set your mind to dropping the pounds, you must decide that it’s something you are going to do no matter what and that you’re not going to let your will power get away from you again - because you know you’ve done this before. You’ve made this promise to yourself before - at this time of year even.

So what’s different this time? Why are you here? Only YOU know that. For me, it was waking up one day, getting on the scales and saying to myself, I’m not OK with this anymore. I’m not OK with looking and feeling this way - and admitting that there is no one else who can do this for you. No one can make you make that decision. Not a husband, not a doctor, not a mother – it must be you. So, do it for you. Respect yourself that much. Love yourself that much. You deserve it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Start

So, here we are, the beginning of a new year. How did you do over the holidays? Was it tough? Or did you do pretty well in the keeping-yourself-busy mode of shopping and wrapping gifts - spending time with family and friends instead of going for the extra glass of eggnog?

I can tell you what one of my chief challenges was this holiday season: food baskets. We received several. They were beautiful and contained wonderful things, but they were deadly tempting. Couple that with the many other food attractions of the season, namely Christmas cookies and yummy holiday confections like fudge, divinity, and cream cheese iced carrot cake, and we had an explosion of sugar and calories the likes that are unseen in most small countries.

Did I give in? A little, yes. Am I a bit annoyed with myself for doing it? A little, yes. Am I going to say to myself, “Oh, you’ll never do this,” and dive into mounds of chocolate and sugar plums because of it? Absolutely not. I’ve already begun to get things back under control: namely paying attention to my daily writings of food and calories. Now that the festivities are over, it’s back to normal.

But I have to say, where I draw the line is putting the word “diet” on a list of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think I’ve ever made such a list that I didn’t manage to break within a week. In my book, resolutions are doomed to fail when they’re attached to that formal declaration made the first week of January. So, if you’re going to resolve to make better choices, eat less, eat healthier, just do it without all the hoopla attached, like a homemade list of glued and glittered bullet points attached to the refrigerator.

It’s a new year… let’s just do the right thing ...together.