Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Developing routines

Battling excess weight is one of the most frustrating, challenging and emotionally draining experience. Many people struggle with a never ending battle to lose weight and get healthy. If you make appropriate changes for a period of time you will lose weight, but when you go back to your previous eating you will gain all the weight back.

You have to realize that losing weight involves a major lifestyle change. If no changes are made to your lifestyle, the moment you stop eating healthy (your diet), you are likely to return to your previous eating, which leads to the Yo-Yo phenomenon. When you go back to your previous eating you will gain all the weight back.

Since you will be making some huge changes to your diet, you need to condition your brain so that eventually, making better food choices will be automatic. To change your lifestyle you must take psychological and behavioral actions. Your attitude and perspective are essential. Your thoughts will guide you to success or to failure. If you are in the wrong state of mind, you will not follow the eating approach.

Do whatever it takes to make eating healthy a positive experience. An early win helps enormously for anyone trying to achieve a difficult task.  The new behavior starts to feel normal. It will take less discipline to repeat the action.  Developing routines and making it your lifestyle is the key. Once you have created new routines and stick with them, those routines will eventually turn into habits and become your new lifestyle. When your decisions, food choices, and lifestyle become an energizing routine you will be setting yourself up for weight loss success.

Losing weight and sustaining that healthy lifestyle is a process and journey. It is never over.

Monday, May 25, 2015

It is not that easy

Well, weight loss is not easy. 

First it took me a while to start doing something about my surprising weight gain. I kept delaying action time, because I “knew” that I would be easy. I lost 91 pounds before, so I thought I would lose the recently gained 20 pounds as soon as I start my efforts. 

And, as expected, when I stopped allowing myself to relax healthy eating on week-ends and was strong while watching TV in the evenings (no unhealthy snacks), the weight started to come down. I got to 180 pounds relatively quickly. Losing 10 pounds felt good. It confirmed that when I made efforts I lost weight. 

Something else also happened. Since I was successful again, I did not keep going to get to my healthy weight of 170 pounds.  I relaxed my eating and I stayed at the 180-182 level. My arrogant thinking that “I can lose weight easily any time I want” prevailed and I am remaining at the 180 pounds point. 

I am weak.

Monday, April 6, 2015

I gained weight while training for marathon

I avoided writing about running on my blog, because I did not want anybody to think that you must exercise to lose weight. I am mentioning it now, because I want to share something strange I experienced. Something that is related to weight loss and running.

I tried to start running when I was obese. I weighed 261 pounds then and it was very hard. It felt terrible. I pushed myself to run for 20 to 30 seconds and got tired quickly. Few weeks later I injured my knee and had to have a surgery. After the knee surgery I had to wait several month to try to start running again. I was already eating healthy and managed to lose significant amount of weight. After I lost weight and started running again, it was so different. Running was much easier. It felt like if I were another person. I fell in love with running, and according to many, who successfully lost weight, it helped with maintenance.

Last year learned something that enhanced my knowledge and understanding of weight loss and running. I learned that nutrition for marathon running and nutrition for health do not go together. The energy gels that I started to eat on the long run days during the two last months of marathon training are among the least beneficial for overall health. They contain simple sugars like sucrose and glucose. I now know why I gained 10 pounds while training for marathon.

I then allowed myself not to comply with healthy eating during times before and after Thanksgiving and Christmas and in January 2015 I ended up to be 20 pounds away from my healthy weight.  Yep. S… happens.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Real food diet

The secret of successful weight loss is not about forcing yourself to eat less and exercise more. It is about finding what works best for you, what you can follow, and continuing to follow it until you lose weight, improve your health, and stay that way. Changing what I eat to real food was what worked for me.

If you switch from a processed food diet to a real-food diet, you will lose weight. Once you rid your diet of addictive fake foods, and eat the right combination of real food your weight loss will be much easier. When you make the switch to a real-food diet, you avoid the pitfalls that make fake factory foods addictive, fattening, and unhealthy.

When you stop eating processed foods, you remove from your diet added sugar, refined curbs, and harmful additives and preservatives that contribute to weight gain and stand in the way of weight loss. And for an added bonus, removing the above ingredients from your diet will result in better overall health.

I used this strategy for my weight loss and I firmly believe that this is the easiest and healthiest way to shed pounds and keep them off for life. The first step is to become informed what is, and what is not, real food.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Year's’ resolutions rarely bring the lasting change

It is the last week of January. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming?

New Years’ resolutions rarely bring the lasting change that you hope for. The number one resolution - losing weight - makes sense considering the epidemic of obesity and related diseases, and our genuine desire to look and feel better.

But since only 8% of people who make resolutions actually stick to them, the question remains why do we keep making resolutions, especially if we know we are probably not going to keep them?

Anyone who has ever made and broken a New Year’s Resolution can appreciate the difficulty of behavior change. When we think of behavior change, we usually are at one the following three stages.

Not Ready - You are not intending to take action in the near future, and can be unaware that your behavior is a problem.

Getting Ready - You are beginning to recognize that your behavior is problematic, and you start to reflect on the pros and cons of your continued habits.

Ready - You are intending to take action in the immediate future, and may begin taking small steps toward behavior change.

Action - You have made specific actions in modifying your problem behavior or you have begun acquiring new healthy behaviors.

What stage do you relate to?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Easy strategy for keeping junk food out of your life

Knowing that junk food is bad - or even knowing how it’s bad - doesn't make it any less tempting.

Since we know the negative outcomes of eating sugary foods, one could wonder what makes us come back for more. Is it that we have selective memory when sugary foods are placed right in front of us? No. I think we experience different levels of pleasure depending on what we eat.

Dopamine is one of the feel good chemicals produced in our brain and when it’s released, it makes us feel damn good. It’s our own brain crafted happy drug. When we eat, our brain releases dopamine as a little reward for doing something that is helping us stay alive. The higher in calories the food, the more dopamine is released in the brain. This is why most people would grab fries over a carrot stick in a hot second.

Eating processed foods and foods that are full of salt, sugar and fat give us a super high amount of pleasure because more dopamine is released. And it’s not that healthy food doesn't release dopamine, it does. It just doesn't release nearly as much as processed and caloric dense foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt.

Here is my easy strategy for keeping junk food out of your life - for good. Don't buy junk food. If you don't have junk food in the house or office, you can't reach for it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Guest Post: The Addictive Properties of Junk Food

We can all relate to this feeling: you’re sitting casually watching TV and all of a sudden you have an urge for a late-night junk food snack. It starts small and you tell yourself that you’re not really hungry, that you really don’t need anything else to eat tonight. Then it gets stronger, almost as if the potato chips are screaming at you from the pantry. Ultimately you give in, finish the bag of chips and promise yourself that this won’t happen tomorrow. You may attribute this behavior to a lack of self-control… but did you know that these cravings have an evolutionary component and, in some cases, junk food manufacturers have actually exploited these properties to make them more addictive?
Before we go into the science of junk food addiction, let’s define what I’m talking about when I say “junk food.” Basically, junk food is a food that is high in fat or sugar and low in other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber. Examples could be potato chips, ice cream, pastries, etc.
Now let’s go back to a time where there wasn’t a fast food restaurant on every corner and humans spent most of their days hunting and gathering food. In this era, there was a type of reward system that developed in our brains when we did things to encourage survival. For instance, a neurotransmitter called dopamine was released when we ate, creating a feeling of pleasure throughout our bodies. This let us know that what we were doing was good and encouraged us to keep doing it. Food that was high in fat provided more calories and long-term energy storage and food high in sugar was dense in short-term energy. These types of food were some of the most important for our survival so they released even more dopamine and made us feel even more pleasure.
Today, even though the average American is not at a loss for calories we still have this reward system, causing us to choose higher fat and higher sugar options. Unfortunately, we are no longer choosing foods in their natural state that also have vitamins and minerals and fiber. Instead we are choosing processed food that is actually manufactured to be higher in fat and sugar so that it releases extreme amounts of dopamine in our brain and creates an almost addictive state.
These junk foods cause a hormonal response in our bodies, which causes us to gain fat and ultimately leads to diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, although high in calories, most junk food is void of other essential nutrients. So even though we may be eating more food than our bodies need, we are starving our bodies of the important vitamins and minerals that keep us healthy.
Remember, your love of junk food didn’t happen overnight so don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes time to break. Focus on choosing foods that make you feel good long-term rather than foods that just give you the initial dopamine rush. You’re going to do great at making healthier choices and quitting your junk food habit!

Guest post provided by Tara Coleman. Tara is a nationally recognized nutrition expert, educator and spokesperson. Visit her website