Saturday, March 28, 2009

Stress Really Bites!

Stress eating. I think it hits all of us who struggle with the pounds. It’s about comfort. Stress makes us feel upset, unsure, and unstable - stretched and pulled all different directions. A child can hug a teddy bear, but where do adults go for that feeling of security and balance again - to recapture our peace and calm? Well, for many of us, it’s our refrigerator or pantry. What’s more comforting than sitting down to a bag of cookies or a big piece of pound cake? (Aptly named, by the way.) Or perhaps instead of a sit-down nosh, your stress eating manifests itself in grazing all day long. Sort of like a smoker who is comforted by the feel of their lips curled around a cigarette – some stress eaters are comforted by mindless hand-to-mouth nibbling.

Of course the obvious problem with this kind of self-comforting effort is the additional stress we inflict on ourselves when we see the results we’ve “gained.” More weight on a body that doesn’t need it and a mind that doesn’t want it, equals what? More stress. Yikes! The very thing we’re trying to salve only gets worse.

Here are 8 tips, (thank you to help us get over or at least get through stressful moments and hopefully keep us from wrapping ourselves in a blanket of calories to feel better.

1. Anger Management – practice letting go, making a conscious effort/choice not to become angry or upset – too much energy and thought is wasted on this often unproductive emotional state.

2. Breathe – slowly and deeply. Take three deep breaths and release them slowly before reacting to the next stressful situation.

3. Speak slowly – slowing down our speech enables us to think more clearly and react more reasonably to stressful situations.

4. Time management – select one simple thing you’ve been putting off and do it now. Return that phone call, make that doctor’s appointment. Having an undone task or responsibility hanging in the backs of our minds adds to our daily stress level.

5. Get out – fresh air really does help! Don’t be deterred by bad weather or a too full schedule. Take a few minutes – even 5 – standing on a balcony or on your front porch – it can rejuvenate you.

6. Drink water – dehydration can add to our feelings of anxiety and stress without our realizing it.

7. Straighten up! - Check your posture. Stooping or slumping can lead to muscle tension, pain, and what? Increased stress.

8. Reward yourself – plan an end of the day reward like a nice hot bath or a half hour with a good book – putting aside work, housekeeping, or family concerns for a few minutes before bed so you can fully relax and get the rest you need. Don’t spend time planning tomorrow’s schedule or trying to catch up completing chores you didn’t get around to all day. You need time to recharge and energize so you’ll be better prepared to face the next stressful day!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Eating Out Calories

It’s so easy to underestimate the amount of calories that go into commercial foods. While perusing the menu at a popular food chain or walking down the line of steaming entrees and veg at a tried and true cafeteria, I think of how I might perhaps fix similar items at home. I think about the ingredients I might use to make that same dish, thinking that, well it can’t be that bad, what would be on it/in it that would make it so high calorie?

I decided to check out my latest edition of The Calorie King Calorie Fat & Carbohydrate Counter book. If you haven’t got one, run to your nearest bookstore or on-line seller and buy it. You’ll be glad you did. It’s invaluable. Anyway, in the back of the little pocket-sized book is what I consider a pretty reliable nutrition list of menu items from popular restaurants and fast food chains. Some of it will scare you! I’m not saying don’t eat these things or go to these places. What I am saying is to be sure you know what you’re getting. More information allows you to make an informed decision.

Listed below are a few items I found in the book with their calories written alongside. If you're limiting your calories to around say 1500 or even 1700 a day, many of these dishes would be totally out of the question. Check it out.

Appleby’s – Fiesta Lime Chicken – (entrée with sides and sauces) – 1285 calories! (at least Appleby’s does have a listing of Weight Watchers items on their menu which are not too bad.)

Burger King – Original Whopper sandwich – 680; Whopper Jr., (no cheese) – 370

Cheesecake Factory – per slice - Brownie Sundae – 970; Original Cheesecake – 630

Chili’s – Classic Nachos – with fajita chicken – 1630; with fajita beef – 1740

Dunkin’ Donuts – Powdered Cake donut – 310; Bagel – plain multigrain - 410

IHOP – Buttermilk pancakes – short stack (3) [without butter and syrup] - 330

Macaroni Grill – Primo Chicken Parmesan (dinner size) – 2220!

P.F. Chang’s – Lo Mein Beef (per whole dish) – 1375

Ruby Tuesday – Lemon Grilled Salmon (entrée without sides) – 505

Zaxby’s – Chicken Finger Plate – (regular entrée without sauce) – 1055

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Battling the Binging

Are you a night eater? I’ll admit that I am. It’s the hardest time of the day for me to resist temptation. I can go almost all day – proud of myself for eating rather light. Not much for breakfast other than coffee and a nutrition bar –oh no, just a lite lunch, thank you. Then it kicks in. I want something more ‘substantial’ as a mid-afternoon snack, because hey, I've hardly had a thing all day. Then dinner comes and I’d like a dessert, of course. I add up my all my calories for the day so far and discover that, hmm, gee I have a lot more calories to use up in order to meet my goal for the day. Must not under-eat. If I’m not careful, though, I’ll end up over-eating because my craving nature kicks in and before I know it, the extra 300 calories I had to spend on dessert will end up ‘encouraging' me to eat 600 and I've blown it for the day.

And perhaps we share this issue, too - the more I eat, the more my body wants to eat. If I over-eat, say give in to that afternoon or night craving, I find the next day my body wants more - even to the point of hunger pains poking at me around the same time I overindulged the day before. It’s as if my body is saying, ‘Hey, you fed us yesterday at this time, let’s do that again! It would be really easy to give in to those urges just to shut them up. That’s where our tough resolve has to kick in. It’s hard. I know. But if you can battle it back –ignore those desires/pains/cravings for one day, it will get easier the next. And the day after that is even a little bit better because you now have a history of winning the fight. If you can hang in there until you begin to see results on the scale or in the way you can now breathe easier when you don a certain pair of jeans or skirt, that will give you more incentive to continue the fight. You can do it!