I admit, my first attempt at weight loss as an overweight teen was a diet. In fact, it was Weight Watchers. However, back in 1978, WW was significantly different. It really wasn’t a “diet” like we know today, it was an education in healthy eating, a healthy diet. For the first time in years, I abstained from eating fast food, started moving more and ate fruits and vegetables every day. Since that time, weight loss strategies and the ridiculous number of fast-n-easy diets has dramatically changed people’s relationship with food. Instead of discovering how food can work with their body, many people are fighting weight loss and food has become their weapon of choice.
As a senior in high school, I was 50 pounds heavier and on a 5’2″ frame, that’s just not healthy. I knew by how I felt, how I performed each day that something wasn’t right. To be honest, it wasn’t so much how I looked, but more about how I felt. Today, it’s all about how we look, how thin we are and health has taken a back seat. I look at movie stars, models and even reality stars and thin is the new black. The truth is that not everyone is meant to be skinny, and I mean skinny, not thin, Hollywood, Angelina Jolie thigh skinny. And women (and some men) buy into that look as a goal to shoot for. So, they jump on the latest diet that promises to slim your thighs, harden your abs, whittle your waist and remove cellulite. And because of the pressure to meet the expectations of an unrealistic culture, we diet, over and over and over again all in an effort to be- skinny.
Over the last few years, I have become more and more interested in nutrition, how what we eat affects our body as well as our environment. I’ve been fascinated to read the evolution of nutrition over the years. Oddly enough, instead of our country creating amazing, healthy foods to make us smarter and leading edge, we’ve excelled in fast-food restaurants and processed food leaving us all unhealthy and overweight. We see high numbers of obesity, schools cutting out physical education and more and more kids being diagnosed with things never heard of 30 years ago. When I was in grade school, no one had allergies. Maybe one or two kids had asthma. ADD? Autism? ADHD? It was unheard of then.
As my interest in nutrition has grown, so has the way I fuel my body. And the funny thing is I find myself changing and becoming more and more interested in listening to and trusting what my body needs to perform optimally. The way I eat is not designed to help me become thin, not skinny but healthy. Diets that I have reviewed over the years have one goal, to cause weight loss and longevity is irrelevant. These programs figure if they get people to lose weight once, they’ll come back. because they believed it worked before. Hmmm. Over and over and over again, people fall in to the diet trap striving for skinny, to achieve what they perceive to be normal. If only we could rise above the hold that diets clearly have on the 70 million Americans that diet each year.
I recently wrote an article on Plant Based Nutrition. I am a believer. Not only am I believer, I am gradually changing my lifestyle to accommodate more of a plant based diet, not weight loss, health based. Why? Because it’s more along the lines of how my ancestors ate and given the way our environment is constantly compromised, I want to select my foods based on how kind the food is to my body and to the earth. When I’m buying organic simply because it’s organic and dismissing the fact that it was sent here from Mexico or Chile, what kind of carbon imprint is that leaving? Further, how does the nutrition diminish during lengthy transportation? Wouldn’t it make better sense to buy locally even if not necessarily organic? We’ve confused organic with earth and health smart, not always the case.
Imagine if more people took up gardening and learned to eat seasonally vs. expecting perfect produce in the off season. Imagine how differently you would view food if you didn’t have to decipher ingredients on the side of a box that looked more like hieroglyphics versus real food. Eating for health truly is the key to ridding yourself of diets and hanging on to a healthy, strong body.
I believe it’s time to walk away from the world of diets that does nothing to encourage healthy eating options, simply calorie focus. It’s time to realize that if diets were great, obesity and disease would decline, not the case. Getting back to basics with a focus on plant based nutrition, locally grown produce, small farms we can support, we will not only find a wonderful difference in the health of our body, we will discover a great way to positively impact our environment.
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On March 1, 2012 1 Comment
Well, it’s March 1st. New Year’s resolutions have been shelved as guilt settles in to each sedentary day. We’re reminded of our lost commitments as weight loss programs dominate advertising space on television, magazines and in our head. It’s the time of year when we wished we had held tight to our resolutions, but as history shows, other priorities have strong-armed healthy intentions. All is not lost, however; there are things to consider before you get back on the horse and ride your way into the healthy living sunset.
Most people abandon their resolutions when the vision of becoming a picture perfect eater and exerciser slowly fades into the sea of lost hope. The vision unfortunately excluded the reality of a job, family and unexpected challenges that naturally occur in life. If you’re feeling frustrated, depressed or guilt-ridden about letting your healthy intentions slide, let it go. Years ago, I abandoned the notion that I could be a super woman. Though the idea of doing it all left me excited, the actual act of doing it all left me exhausted. I realized that the best way to stay on top of my health and balance it with my busy life was looking reality in the eye and accepting that my best was good enough.
Every time someone comes to me Jan. 1 to share their litany of healthy living resolutions, I have to stop them. Although the intentions are admirable, the likelihood of long-term commitment to the changes is just not going to happen. How can anyone expect to go from inactivity and fast food runs daily to workouts seven days a week and a completely vegan diet? It’s just not realistic. What is realistic is standing back, taking a look at your life and implementing a beginners program. Most people implement an advanced athletes program and wonder why they can’t stick with it.
When I decided to lose 50 pounds, I was a slug. A crunchy burrito was my favorite food. I also thought Cheetos were a healthy alternative to chips. They’re so colorful! Clearly, deciding to dump junk food and begin exercising was a daunting proposition, but I knew there wasn’t an alternative. Well, I suppose there was, but that wasn’t the choice my health could afford. Thirty-plus years later, I’m so glad I let my health rule my decision; it turned out to be a good one.
So where are you today? Where do you want to be tomorrow? When you look at the resolutions that you made, were they a bit overzealous? Remember, it likely has taken you many years to develop bad habits, so you need to make the same consideration when developing new, healthier habits.
The first step to getting back on track is to start off slow. Instead of saying you’re going to work out seven days a week, why not start with two days? After you stick with that for a month, either add on time or another day. Ultimately, and I mean ultimately, not immediately, you will get to a point where you will walk further or run, or bike ride or swim more often. Getting started can’t be overwhelming, or it will lack staying power. You must consider your lifestyle and limitations when planning your program. Healthy living motto: Be realistic!
Next, food. Once an ally now an enemy and that’s the problem. The more you “fight” weight, “beat” weight loss, join the “weight loss battle” it’s a negative journey. Rethink the meaning of food and what purpose food serves. Simply put, food allows our body to function properly, period. But we’ve starved it, teased it with fake food, binged on junk food and been ashamed of the body it’s created — thus the breakup between us and food. Food needs to be viewed differently. Not for a diet but for sustenance. Not for weight loss but for health gains. Not for mindless eating but for mindful eating. Not for distension but for prevention. The minute you can select foods that will encourage good health, the battle, the fight, the war will likely end.
I encourage you to consider “getting back together” with healthy food choices and start an exercise program off slowly. You’ll likely be more successful in your efforts. But don’t get too comfortable. As you improve your activity, find new and fun things to add on to keep it interesting.
Celebrate your successes and recognize when you’ve accomplished something great. For some that may be a walk around the block to start. As for food, the Internet has a wealth of resources for cooking healthy. Stick as closely as you can to whole foods, less boxed. Spend more time cooking at home versus spending time at the drive-through. It can be done, but it has to be done slowly and respectfully.
Rome wasn’t built in a day nor should a healthy body be expected to. It takes time, dedication and a solid dose of reality. Do what you can today to contribute to a healthier you tomorrow. And that my friends is the secret to securing those resolutions.
Here’s to your good health!
(Reprinted from February 21st edition of The Naperville Sun)
By Nicki On January 29, 2012 2 Comments
If they were looking for volunteers, I’d be the first one in line to help teach kids about healthy living. There is clearly a shortage of health education for kids these days, and if it is being taught, it’s not being taught well.
Full disclosure, years ago, I fed my kids fun fruits and fruit roll-ups. Yes, we went to McDonald’s and Burger King. I potty trained my kids with M&M’s, yes, I did all the things I shouldn’t have done. But that was before I knew something wasn’t right. When I was pregnant, I made every effort to eat whole, pure food. Why should I feed them differently now? So, I made the decision to educate myself on food and the ramifications of feeding kids garbage, I reigned in, much to their disappointment.
I have been working with obese/inactive adults for almost 20 years. In the last 5 years, I have had a surge in Mother’s coming to be me with their young daughters, 11, 12, 13. “They just won’t stop eating. Their siblings are thin, their friends are thin, so I just want her to feel comfortable in her body and lose some weight.” All of this said in front of their child. I often ask parents what types of foods they buy at home, “Well, the other kids know when to stop, they don’t over eat some of the junk food I buy. Plus they’re really active. She just can’t eat that stuff.” My reply, “Well, why do you buy it?” Mother’s response, “Why should I have to punish the other kids when they don’t have a problem?” Hmmm, punishment = taking away junk food. And this my friends is where the problem starts.
Recently, there’s been some controversy over a new ad campaign in Georgia (which has the 2nd highest obesity rate for children) utilizing obese kids to get a message across; fat is bad. Some people are mortified by them, while others think they will have a positive impact. Me, I’m not so sure. As an obese teen, I find the ads offensive and ineffective. First of all, the photos should be of the whole family, not just the child. Second, I think a child that is 8 or 9 years old is being exploited and stigmatized. You don’t think kids will be bullied or teased when they see these ads? One of the ads, “Big bones didn’t make me this way, big meals did,” will surely result in teasing on the playground. A more positive approach would be a picture of an entire family that says: “A healthy child is the result of a healthy home.” or “A fit child, comes from a fit family.” Bottom line, FAMILIES need to be educated on food and how they feed their children. Just because children are active in sports does not justify a run to a fast food restaurant following practice. Parents will tell me, “Well, we don’t have time to cook a big meal, drive-thrus are just easier.” Well, they may be easier, but that’s not setting your child up for success when the shopping is ultimately u p to them.
Further, most parents are bound and determined to see that their kids do well in school and in life, shouldn’t nutrition and exercise be part of their rearing? 40 years ago, it was different, but today, it should be mandatory for every family that has a kindergarten age child, go to a class that teaches families the value in raising kids with healthy food and lifestyle. Even in low income areas, you could get volunteers teaching famlies how to eat healthy on a budget. (A girl can dream, can’t she?) A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is far better than a fast-food burger, or jumbo sandwich.
We, the parents are responsible for our children, and it is up to us to see that our children learn the importance of eating well and staying healthy. What they learn about nutrition now, they will carry through to their adult years. They won’t always be playing soccer or running track, so introducing healthy eating and reasonable ways to stay active, should not be done just for inactive kids, it should be for ALL kids.
I’m not crazy about the ad campaign, I feel that there could be a much more tactful, effective way to get the message out about childhood obesity. The people who came up with the campaign believe that the “shock and awe” value is what’s needed to wake people up to the problem of childhood obesity. I’m not so sure I agree. I think the only thing that is going to help, is educating families on what constitutes healthy eating and it needs to start from birth.
We can’t blame schools, vending machines, ads, fast-food restaurants for the obesity epidemic, rather it’s up to us to do the research, understand how junk food and fast-food compromises our health and begin making positive changes for ourselves. That way, we will be better equipped to pass it on to the next generation without feeling the need to objectify kids to make a point.
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On January 18, 2012 2 Comments
First of all, thanks for your years of smiles and serious comfort food. Thank you for your inspirational journey that got you where you are today. As a celebrity chef, you’re up there with Chef Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, and the other chefs who cook to entertain and teach us how make great comfort, amazing tasting food.I love watching them cook, but I know it’s not a part of my everyday menu. How’s about one of my favorites, Guy Fieri? There’s nothin’ healthy about his shows. But he’s an entertainer! Honestly, I think the fast-food industry has done more to promote obesity than cooking shows.
None of the chefs on T.V. have ever touted the nutritional aspects of their food (unless shows state it such as Elie Krieger), simply the goodness of their food. They have never talked about their weight, their pre-existing conditions, etc. Why? Because chefs cook! Julia Child? I’m not recalling a heart-healthy recipe that she made, she was a French Chef. Her cooking show was not designed to have people eat like that all the time, simply entertainment.
Football stars use drugs, movie stars go to shrinks, basketball stars have chronic injuries and the list of “hidden” issues with entertainers goes on and on. Chefs are no different. However, when entertainers get busted, it’s a solid opportunity to “make good” and teach, educate and hopefully motivate their followers to learn what they could have done differently to avoid their predicament. Unfortunately, Paula, you haven’t done that. For example, when an athlete or politician gets called on the carpet, they apologize, make nice and say what they would have done differently. Given your down home charm and candor, my hope was that you would have done that, though with far more sincerity. I expected something to come from your heart, not as a talking piece for a pharmaceutical company.
I wished that the chef that I’ve come to know would have been straight with the media and shared something like this, “Look ya’ll, I love to eat, it’s what I do, it’s what I know, and how I’ve made my life. My show is my profession, I’ll never stop sharing great recipes just as other chefs won’t stop sharing their variety of food. Perhaps I should’ve had a disclaimer for my viewers (insert laugh in here), but in fact, it is what it is. I’m not a big fan of exercise, and I love the foods that I make. But now I’ve realize I have to pay the piper. If I had to do it over again, I’d rather not be diabetic. Although it’s not a death sentence, if not monitored and maintained correctly via, diet and exercise, it can be fatal. I have to be on medication now, but with my changes in lifestyle, I may not have to be forever. Listen ya’ll, don’t wait to be diagnosed, nip it in the bud now so you don’t have to be on medication.”
You could have been the perfect spokesperson for changing your lifestyle. Unfortunately, it seems some talking heads got in to your head, and set you up for the possibility of losing your show. So, now you’re a spokesperson for some drug company, really? Bad call. Your audience is smarter than that, they would have understood, and perhaps that could have been your platform to inspire your viewers to be more proactive with their health. But instead, you’re touting medication over lifestyle. Watching you on the Today show made me sad. You never ONCE said, “Ya’ll I am just not a good exerciser, I need to quit smoking, but I’m gonna work on it and I’m gonna work on getting my lifestyle in check.” It shows you’re human. But you didn’t, instead you focused on the medication and praised the drug company (I refuse to give them any more attention) vs. talking about lifestyle adjustment. With all due respect, diabetes IS preventable, and you never said that. Shame.
I don’t think this would be the big deal it has become if you had only been up front, like the Paula so many have come to love. But instead, you sold out and didn’t speak the honest truth. It a shame that fame can make losing your fortune more important than losing your health.
Nicki Anderson, Health and Fitness Advocate
By Nicki On January 15, 2012 No Comments
I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life working to inspire people to get healthy through exercise and sound nutrition. However, the challenge with my job is that not everyone wants to get healthy as much as they want to lose weight. Over the years, we have put such emphasis on weight loss that we’ve lost site of our health. Obesity wasn’t a big issue (no pun intended) 40-50 years ago for a few reasons, we were more active, we ate less, and the quality of our food was better. As people struggle with their weight, they are missing out on the real opportunity to get healthy and weigh less, and it all starts with making decisions based on improving health vs. losing weight. I’ve said it before, (many times) but I’ll say it again, weight loss (or a healthy weight) is simply a byproduct of healthy living.
The more I study nutrition, the deeper my interest in the quality of the foods we eat and how it affects our health. What I’ve found is that the most damaging changes in our food choices include, the increase of sugar consumption, and hormones used in so many products.
Dr. Christine Horner, is a nationally known surgeon and author advocating prevention-oriented medicine and ways to become and stay healthy naturally. Here is what Dr. Horner says about sugar.
“To me, sugar has no redeeming value at all, because they found that the more we consume it, the more we’re fuelling every single chronic disease,” Dr. Horner says. “In fact, there was a study done about a year ago… and the conclusion was that sugar is a universal mechanism for chronic disease. It kicks up inflammation. It kicks up oxygen free radicals. Those are the two main processes we see that underlie any single chronic disorder, including cancers. It fuels the growth of breast cancers, because glucose is cancer’s favorite food. The more you consume, the faster it grows.”
I have always believed that sugar is the “Beelzebub” of the food world. In my years of working with women, those who were addicted to sugar, were the ones with the most health problems while struggling with their weight. There are numerous diets and though they may help people lose weight temporarily, they rarely include health education in their programs. Further, not only does chronic dieting mess with your body, it messes with your mind. Sure, some diets include fresh vegetables in their “Healthy Foods to Eat”, but recently, Weight Watchers listed Chicken McNuggets as a healthy food option. WHAT? It goes back to the focus on weight vs. health.
If possible, I’d like you to stop for one minute, consider this internal conversation, “O.K., clearly I’m not a healthy weight, my blood pressure is high and I’m out of shape. Going on a diet is NOT the answer. I’ve got to learn how to eat better and exercise regularly as that is the ONLY long-term solution to improving my health and not jeopardizing it through some wacky weight loss program. How many diets have I been on? And ultimately, what have they done for me?”
But instead of that conversation, it often goes more like this, “I’m so fat, I’ve got to do something. But, every time I try to lose weight I quit, so why even bother? Most of the time I’m eating foods I don’t even like OR I’m hungry all the time. May as well just keep doing what I’ve been doing or try that cabbage soup diet. My neighbor is doing it and losing weight.”
I’d like you to start thinking differently, today, right now. When you think about food and your weight, remember these two points are the ONLY solution to long-term weight and health issues.
1. Eat whole foods including the following: fresh veggies, (think outside the carrot and celery box here), whole grains (not enriched, bleached flour) WHOLE grains, quinoa, brown/wild rice, fresh fruits (ideally organic, but hey, any kind is better than no kind, just wash it well), water and farm raised meats. Eating these foods will never leave you hungry, they won’t leave you craving more like processed and sugar laden foods do. I’m not a purist by any means, but 80-90% of the time I eat very well. Since losing 50 pounds over 30 years ago, I have not put my weight back on. Not because I’m “good”, I’m aware. I want to be in control of my health, I want to have the power over my body and not let the food that makes people a lot of money ruin my body, (remember, processed foods are much cheaper to manufacture and that is transferred to the consumer).
2. You MUST exercise. Look, we all know that technology has led most of us to sit far more than we move. If we are to give our body what it needs to function at it’s best, we must exercise. Exercise is NOT punishment for an imperfect body, rather it’s a gift that you can give yourself each and every day. When you exercise, you are allowing the body to do what it was designed to do, MOVE. 15-20 minutes a day is a starting point. Start, you have to.
Here’s the bottom line. Stop with the diets, stop. Start educating yourself about food and what food makes your body run more efficiently and work to prevent illness. You are welcome to email me and I will give you resources to start your journey(email@example.com). Type II diabetes CAN be prevented. Heart disease CAN be prevented, obesity CAN be prevented simply by shifting the way you look at food and making it your ally vs. your enemy. Don’t give food the power any more, it’s time for you to step up and take control of your health and ultimately your life! Who me, passionate? You bet I am! I want to see women gain strength and take back control of their health, it’s long overdue.
Dedicated to your good health,
By Nicki On January 10, 2012 No Comments
I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of the celebrity diet ambush that seems to be on every other television commercial. Hey, don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Hudson, rockin’ it (but her heavier self is off key at the end of the commercial, notice that?), Marie Osmond (8 brothers and she’s the only one with weight issues?) , Mariah Carey, subhuman (after twins, she looks like that? Really?), Charles Barkley (being that tall can hide a multitude of sins), Janet Jackson, serial dieter, yo-yo pro. And that’s just scratching the surface of the latest weight loss celebrities. But seriously, are these people solid role models? My thoughts are, um, no.
I guess you can look at the commercials and think, “Well, it just goes to show celebrities have battles they fight too!” Yeah, well, they make more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime. These stars can have people cook the food, order the food and if they want, spoon feed them the food without even having to think about it. The truth is, celebrity endorsements is yet another way that diet programs that are short lived find their way in to your psyche and eventually your wallet. And more important, let’s see where these “stars” are 3 years from now, 5 years from now, still fit and thin? TBD.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire anyone who can set their mind on a goal and achieve it. But when you start putting celebrities in to the mix, that changes all the rules. They are NOT regular folk. They make money based on their looks and they will do whatever they need to in order to get in to their million dollar costumes/dresses, etc. Our lives are so vastly different including the things that motivate us as well as the things that allow us to make difficult changes. Mariah Carey just had twins, God Bless her, but my hunch is she’s got a bit of help with those babies. For the average woman looking to lose weight after having twins, not only does she not have the gift of a nanny or two, she doesn’t have a diet company knocking on her door asking if she’d like to endorse them if she follows their program. Imagine, getting paid to lose weight? However, that’s a double edged sword. You gain the weight back and you get just as much attention, you just don’t get paid for it.
I don’t know, I just have a really hard time seeing all of these celebrities saying, “If I did it, you can too!” No I can’t, whether it be money, time or support, no one is paying me to lose weight. I suppose some may be inspired to change and that’s a plus. But the real stars, the real celebrities are those folks that set their mind to get healthy once and for all, and do it the old fashioned way, and don’t get paid for it. 30 years ago, I lost weight the old fashioned way, simply by making healthier choices and following my 80/20 rule, works every time.
Don’t let the pressure of unrealistic success stories get you down. There are plenty of real people with real life success stories that changed their life for the better, all on their own, no endorsements, no promises of fortune or fame, no nannies or agents to keep them on task, just good old fashioned desire and motivation.
Check out my most recent column. Now she’s a real star!!
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On December 30, 2011 6 Comments
As the new year approaches, gyms start gearing up for the onslaught of seasonal exercisers, while diet programs click their heels in glee, the money season is upon them, CHA-CHING! They are grateful for the over-imbibing, procrastinating, excuse-making, will-powerless customer.
Magazines hope for record breaking sales as the latest fad diet or successful weight loss story graces their cover. But at the end of it all, what will people get out of the money and energy they put in to their weight loss efforts? Unfortunately, all but 1-2% of those desperately seeking miracles will realize there are no miracles and the only thing left is hard work and dedication. But for some, that’s not what they bought. So, come February they walk away, back to the lifestyle that hasn’t served them well, but seems significantly easier. By March, they’re regretting they gave up and by May, the cycle starts all over again.
I’ve seen this yo-yo pattern for years, so I decided to create my 2012 Wish List.
1. I wish diet companies would add to all of their commercials, brochures, and any other advertising the following: “Look, this takes a lot of hard work. Sure, you see the success stories in our ads that makes it look easy, but the truth is that our program only works if you’re willing to work- hard. You in?” That’s just honest sales.
2. I wish gyms would offer an incentive program at the beginning of the year as their way of increasing retention vs. making their money and running. I wish those “regular” exercisers and members would be more welcoming of newbies rather than rolling their eyes and saying, “God, I can’t wait til January is over so I can get my gym back.” I wish gyms would offer a mandatory program in January that would serve as inspiration to keep people coming to the gym long after their resolutions have passed.
3. I wish magazines would stop putting on the front of their magazines – “6 Ways to flatten your belly, NOW!” “How you can whittle your waist by the weekend!” “How you can lose 5 pounds in just one week!” None of these do anything to focus on ways to build esteem, self-acceptance or reality. I can flatten my abs right now by laying on my back on the floor, BINGO, flat! I can whittle my waist by wearing spanks and I can lose 5 pounds in a week by taking up a liquid diet for a day or two. But where is the long-term benefit? I wish for more education, REAL education that promotes women’s self-worth, talent, and beauty for REAL people not just the 20 something models that those of us over 40 will never look like (I’m speaking for myself of course).
4. I wish for women and men to rethink weight loss. In that I mean, don’t lose weight because of societal pressure, lose it because your health is at risk. Lose it because your quality of life is being limited by the things you can’t or don’t want to do because you’re carrying around extra weight. Believe that your health is the most important thing in the world and something as basic as walking most days of the week and focusing on whole foods more often can make a radical difference in your life. I so want that for you.
5. I wish health and fitness professionals would come together and STOP making claims that they can melt away fat, or shrink someone’s body. My job as a trainer is not to melt anyone or shrink anyone. My job is to educate. And the more that trainers perpetuate weight loss myths, the more our clients will expect unrealistic results. Speak the truth, healthy weight is a choice (I know, there are some medical issues, but work with me here), and they’re either in or out. I’ve seen too many trainers put people on ridiculous programs where they lose a ton of weight quickly, only to put it back on within the year, or worse yet get injured. My job as a trainer is to motivate and educate, not to perform miracles.
These are just a few of my favorite wishes.
Here’s to your good health in 2012!
By Nicki On December 26, 2011 No Comments
I’ve been involved with the health and fitness industry since 1979. For some that was a hundred years ago, for others, it seems like yesterday! I got involved with the industry after losing 50 pounds that found its way on to my unsuspecting body. I had always been a “toothpick”. My sister used to say to me, “Some day all of that ice cream you eat will catch up with you.” She was right, it did.
When I lost weight, I did it the old fashioned way. I went from a completely sedentary lifestyle to riding a bike most days of the week. I gave up my penchant for fast food and started cooking at home. I was only 17, but knew that if I didn’t make a change, it was going to get ugly. I made the change.
Over the last 20 years (I got back in to the business after my kids were older), I have committed myself to inspiring others to get healthy, to change their life and experience the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Little did I know how hard it would be, and how many snake oil sales men/women out there would tempt, cajole and lie their way into those lives of people desperately seeking a weight loss miracle.
My first book came out in 2000, and the message in that book is no different than my message of today, “If you want to lose weight, focus on lifestyle change as weight loss is a byproduct of healthy changes.” If weight loss was truly a motivating factor, obesity would be a non-issue.
So here is my promise to you as we enter 2012:
1. I promise never to tell you that I can help you “melt” away fat.
2. I promise never to tell you that you can lose 20 pounds in 20 days.
3. I promise never to tell you that weight loss is fast and easy.
4. I promise never to tell you that without changing a thing, you can lose weight.
5. I promise never to tell you that fad diets work.
6. I promise to educate you on the steps necessary to make change.
7. I promise to assess your readiness and be honest if I feel you’re just not ready to commit to change. I can’t force anyone to make changes, it has be of their own volition.
8. I promise to support and encourage you to make healthy changes, but I cannot make the changes for you.
9. I promise to always give you the latest in health and fitness education, and if I don’t know the answer to something, I will find it for you.
10. I promise to never give up on you, even when you do. Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy, it takes time, patience, desire and hard work. I promise to take the time, have the patience and desire to support your hard work!
As a health and fitness professional, it’s my job to steer you away from the dangerous, short-term programs out there. And this time of year, the diet predators are out in full force. The ONLY way, and I mean the ONLY way to recover your good health and a healthy body is dedication to regular exercise and a whole food diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. There is no secret, there is no magic, never has been, only the truth, and that is what I promise to tell you each and every day!
Here’s to a healthy you in 2012!
By Nicki On December 18, 2011 No Comments
With the proliferation of weight loss programs, you have been “trained” to focus on results more than anything else. Think about it, when you start a diet, the motivation comes from the visual you have in your mind of being thinner, stronger and feeling like a new man or woman, right? But the natural course of this kind of focus, (solely on results) eventually leads to failure. Let me explain.
When you think about exercising or eating right, you do it because you have this picture in your head of what you want to look like. The visual you create in your head is inspired by what you’ve seen on TV or in magazines highlighting people who have lost a bunch of weight and well, it inspires you to lose want to lose weight, right? Unfortunately, these stories are unrealistic and unsustainable.
The problem is when you focus on the end result, you don’t take in to consideration the actual “journey”. Then, once you realize the work involved, it becomes too overwhelming. That thinking comes from the “fast-n-easy” promises we see in ads and magazines. It looks so easy, right? I think we can all agree that lean and fit does not happen just by wishing or visualizing, it comes from dedication, desire and determination.
Following are some ways that you can think differently about making positive, healthy changes come January.
Value is what you should receive from any fitness center you choose. In other words, you should feel an immediate connection with the facility or fitness professional you choose. There should be value in that facility which makes the time you spend and the dollars you spend all worthwhile. It might be the location, the staff, the “feel” of the place, etc. Whatever it is, there needs to a perceived value which will keep you coming back.
Next, benefits. Here’s where you need to change your thinking. Instead of focusing on the results (which are often unrealistic) focus on the immediate benefits you’ll garner from eating better and exercising more. Benefits are immediate, such as sleeping better, having more energy, being more connected with your body. Unfortunately, we’ve been programmed to believe that weight loss is the only valuable part of being active and eating well. It is this type of thinking that keeps your efforts short lived, why? Because weight loss (fast and easy) is not necessarily the first benefit that is derived from eating better and exercising. Unfortunately, if weight loss isn’t experienced right away, all hope is lost and it’s back to inactivity and poor nutrition.
So here’s what I’d like you think about, if you’re only going to exercise and eat well to lose weight, for your resolution, think differently. Think of 5 benefits (other than weight loss) that you will receive from changing bad nutrition habits and moving your body more. Those benefits should then become your focus. Those benefits are unique to you and matter to you, it’s not the generic “weight loss” reason which clearly doesn’t work.
Take time this week to focus on the sustainable reasons you want to become healthy. Remember, weight loss is a byproduct of being active and eating well, it’s not the other way around. Start today to make small changes and trust me, it will just grow from there. Not a single worthwhile thing in life is achieved simply by wanting it, you’ve got to take action!
Here’s to your health,
By Nicki On December 11, 2011 1 Comment
I remember Christmas in 1979, it was about a year after I had gotten my health in order and lost close to 50 pounds ( weight loss followed my healthy changes). Anyway, I had been eating healthy food for about a year and I was heading to my Grandparents house prepared to overindulge in holiday fare. I felt that I had deserved it because I really hadn’t eaten any unhealthy food in so long. I picked up my plate and headed towards the buffet table. Of course my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but hey, I “deserved” to eat all of the foods I had denied myself for so long, so I took one of everything. What I didn’t realize is though I thought I wanted all of this food, the reality was my body had been trained to crave what it needs not what I wanted. I realized at that moment, it’s all about listening to my body, NOT my “diet head”, it’s about being healthy.
We are so conditioned (due to years of dieting) to listen to our “diet-head” that we are completely out of touch with listening to what our body needs. Let me give you an example:
You go to a holiday event and your diet-head says, “Hey, it’s the holidays I can have all of this food, besides once January hits, I’ll eat better.” But if you really stop for just a minute and listen to your body, it really does crave the good-for-you foods. It’s just that we’ve become accustomed to making bad choices out of guilt or “the diet starts tomorrow” syndrome. But that’s all stuff in your head, not your body. Granted, your body does become addicted to sugars and junk food, but if you become consistent with good eating habits, your body will crave the good food, that’s what happened to me.
This week, try to listen closely to your body. Granted, this time of year poses more challenges when it comes to eating healthy, but if you’re not in the “diet-head” you’ll make better choices versus eating something you swore you wouldn’t and then living with the guilt for the next week! Whether it’s the holidays or not, do your best to eat well and remain committed to activity. Let go of the diet-head and begin to be more thoughtful about making the choices that are right for you because your body and ultimately your mind knows best. Think about it, when you eat well, you feel well – enough said.
Here’s to your health!