This past week, USA Today came out with a story that polled about 1000 people asking if they would rather have a million dollars or a great body. 1 out of 4 would rather have a perfect body than a million dollars. I don’t know about you, but I was wondering about health. Why wasn’t there an option that asked if people would like to be in great health? In my humble estimation, that’s a two-fer. If you’ve got your health, you’ve likely got a healthy body. Would it be perfect? There is no perfect, whereas health offers a number of benefits!
There is no doubt that we live in a time when validation is often based on the external, what you have, what you look like, etc. Have you seen the new show, The Voice? It goes against the norm of judging based on looks, etc. The premise of the show is that singers seeking stardom audition for judges that can’t see them, they only hear them. The idea is if they are less than attractive or super hot, it might skew the judges vote. So, they are initially judged on talent alone, (what a concept). This is a great illustration of not judging a book by it’s cover, because we may think we know what we’re going to get, but that is not always the case.
I know for me, when I lost all my weight, people were nicer to me. The same thing happens with someone with new found fame or money, suddenly it’s cool to be associated with you. What’s wrong with that shallow picture? I’m convinced that’s why the diet industry is so incredibly successful. Each and every day people are striving to be accepted and that often comes with a visual perception. “If you’re pretty or thin or rich, you’ll have it all.”
Remember the show, The Swan ? A select group of women, down on their luck, worked with a group of experts including, a therapist, dentist and plastic surgeon to overcome their issues. Not sure how the plastic surgeon factors in, well I do, but it’s just so ridiculous. Then there’s the show, Bridalplasty in which girls compete before their wedding day for plastic surgery. Huh? Wha? I wonder how long the marriage lasts after so much plastic surgery? Something tells me those men wanted to marry the girl they met, not the girl that was created. Likely, they think that perfection equates to happiness or success. I know some beautiful people and they have just as many troubles as those not viewed as “beautiful” (beautiful is relative, don’t you think?). The best advice I ever got was from my Grandmother, she always used to tell me, “It may be shiny and new on the outside, but you need to dig a little deeper to find out what condition it’s really in.”
The sad thing is many of these folks on these shows as well as people that watch them believe that, “If I only looked like that I’d be so much more successful! If I could lose weight like the people on that show, I’d finally get that job or get that guy or girl, etc.” The Biggest Loser is a good example. Sure, they lose weight, a lot of weight, however, once they’re off the show, they go back home to the same stresses, the same issues sans the chef, trainer and therapist. The only thing that’s changed is what’s on the outside. (Yes, I know, their vitals have changed) But, if it’s not permanent, and they’re not maintaining healthy patterns, then what really changed? Only the outside.
I tell my clients all the time, change has GOT to start from the inside out, period. The truth is that if you want to change your life, there has to be a major mental shift. Just because you look great, how is that going to translate to the ideal job? Get you out of financial trouble? One needs to shift the way they think and feel internally and start conveying that externally. If you wake up tomorrow and you’re an ideal size, the “upkeep” will likely throw you and you’ll be back where you started. If you win a million dollars tomorrow, it might help you pay off some bills and buy some things you’ve always wanted, but does it change the core of who you are, bring about bliss and utopia in your life? Probably not. If you didn’t have it before, you’re not likely to have it when circumstances change, unless you realize change is an inside out process. You can’t project what isn’t there.
No matter how great someone’s body is, you really have to come back to self, i.e., values, character, integrity and the things that really, really matter. To me, my health is what matters because having my health allows me to do all the things I really want to do. Having my health allows me to feel great and project that energy. Focusing on my health every day gets me a lot further than focusing on my 6-pack. So, I ask you, if you had to choose between a million dollars, a “great” body or excellent health, which would you choose?
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On March 13, 2011 1 Comment
As many of you know, I have been implementing a weight loss challenge at my studio that has turned out to be, well, amazing. Because of the incredible results our clients are experiencing, I am asking them to come back at the orientations we hold each month and share their stories. Let me just say, they are pretty incredible stories.
This past week at our March orientation, Patricia Buckley was our speaker. Patricia has been a client of ours for a number of years, but the weight loss part seemed elusive for her. She was dedicated to her exercise, but for years the weight never changed. When I launched our 6-Week Weight Loss Challenge, Patricia decided that it might be worth checking out. She started the program at the end of the orientation back in November, she hasn’t looked back. Patricia has lost about 37 pounds which is fantastic. But beyond the weight loss, she has changed her lifestyle. I have always said, weight loss is incomplete without the lifestyle change. And that is what Patricia has discovered.
Here’s a bit from her story, “I’m a school teacher and I’m very busy. My husband and I used to eat out, a lot. I liked to eat a lot. Because of that, I have been on many diets and therefore, I wasn’t quite sure what would make this program different. To start with, it wasn’t a diet. Before starting the challenge, I figured because I was exercising that was all I needed to do. But once I came to listen to Nicki speak about her weight-loss challenge, and she kept using the word ‘sustainability’ something clicked, and I knew I needed to do something more. Since starting the program I have lost 37 pounds, dropped 4 pant sizes, many dress sizes and I’m learning to cook. I was a pot-a-day coffee drinker and now I only drink tea. My energy, outlook and quality of life are all greatly improved. I have learned so many things on my journey, but 3 words that have become my mantra are, CAN, CONSCIOUS and CHOICE. The focus for me is no longer on the four letter words diet and can’t, rather the fact that I CAN make good CHOICES based on the CONSCIOUS awareness of what is good for me physically and emotionally.” Wow, well said.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing can change without your willingness to change. The hardest part for people that believe they want to lose weight is taking responsibility for long-term change. For some long-term is just too overwhelming.
So, just for today think about Patricia’s 3 words, can, conscious and choice. Can you make conscious choices that will serve to create a healthier you? Start by looking at the changes you’re willing to make and implement them in to your long-term plan. Patricia is making changes that will be major contributors to long-term change. Diets are temporary and teach nothing. When you change your lifestyle in order to lose weight, you are creating a success story that will have staying power and that is definitely a story with a happy ending.
By Nicki On February 10, 2011 4 Comments
This morning while I was doing my run on my treadmill (-5 makes outside running no fun for me), I was channel checking and came across the Oprah show. She had Jennifer Hudson on her show so I stayed glued as I listened to her weight loss story. Jennifer shared how she’s lost her weight and even included some family members that have experienced their own weight loss success. Jennifer has found success with Weight Watchers, but beyond that Jennifer has found success through a strong support network and most important she is making her exercise FUN! It was a great show because it discussed the natural challenges that come with weight loss as well as the importance of taking it slow, believing you can change and having a strong support system.
So last night, I was thrilled when I hosted my monthly 6-Week Weight Loss Challenge and had a guest speaker, Diane Mayr who is one of our clients that has been through the challenge. She told her story to the group of people coming to learn more about our 6-Week program. When Diane started sharing her story, going back to before she started with the challenge, I was blown away. Even though I’ve been working with Diane since October, hearing her story, reminded me once again of her transformation. I must admit, that our 6-Week Weight Loss Challenge has been an amazing success, but when you hear individual stories, you’re reminded why HEALTHY weight loss is the only way to go.
Diane shared that to date, (it’s been 16 weeks) she has lost a total of 30 pounds. When she came to me she was using a cane to walk because her knees were so bad. She said, “I can skip up a flight of stairs now.” She shared how she has learned to LIVE healthy not diet. Her husband joined her and shared what he has witnessed with Diane and how proud he is of her. She chalks up having support and journaling as key ingredients to long term success, much like Hudson has. But above and beyond Diane’s moving story, the 2 things that she pointed out that really are key with any program, “You have to be ready. You cannot change if you’re not ready. You can do anything for 3 or 4 weeks like I did and lose a little bit of weight, but if you want REAL change, you have to be willing to make some hard decisions. As for my exercise, Nicki gives me new things to do all the time, so I haven’t gotten bored like I did with other programs. When boredom sets in, I quit.”
At the end of the day, whatever route to take to discover the healthiest you, you must be ready to make changes. You must take the path that makes the most sense for you and one that you know you’ll continue. With Jennifer Hudson’s program and Diane’s program, they both found a solid support system, they were ready to change and they made exercise fun.
There really isn’t a miracle “diet” out there, it’s just the willingness to change and the determination and committment to be your best. Are you ready for change?
Congratulations Diane, we at Reality fitness are SO proud of you. By the way, I will be sharing other success stories from our clients. So far our program has helped our clients lose over 130 pounds (the numbers keep going up and the success stories keep coming. How exciting is that?)
By Nicki On February 2, 2011 No Comments
Since I lost my weight close to 30 years ago, I find that the biggest culprit of successful, long-term weight loss for people is unrealistic expectations. People see magazine covers or television shows, or award shows and assume that the way the models and stars of Hollywood look is the way they should look. It’s unfortunate that this has become the goal for many of my clients including kids, not good.
When people are setting weight loss goals, I often remind them that the best “goal” weight is a living weight. What is a living weight? It’s the amount you weigh that is sustainable, healthy and realistic. In other words, if you lose weight and have to starve yourself and exercise 24/7 simply to maintain the weight, that’s not your living weight. If you find that you’re constantly weighing yourself and skipping meals just to stay at your “ideal” weight, it’s not your living weight. If you’re constantly obsessing over your weight, it’s not a living weight.
If you’re in the process of or considering losing weight, it’s important you keep reality at the forefront of any positive changes. Consider the following:
- Remember, if you’re starving yourself to lose weight, it’s not going to be sustainable.
- If you’re working out for 2-3 hrs or more a day, 7 days a week, your weight loss will not be sustainable.
- If you’re embarking on a dietary change, make sure that the changes you’re making are manageable. Now keep in mind, most people eat too much, but gradual changes are more likely to be permanent changes vs. cutting down to 1200 cals per day.
- If you’re obsessed with your weight loss and weighing yourself every day to see if you’ve gained back any weight, that’s not a living weight.
- Living weight is all about the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time exercise most days of the week as well as eat more healthfully. 20% of the time is life, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
- Living weight is not about perfect, it’s about potential. Every one has the potential to make healthy changes to achieve a healthy, living weight.
- Living weight is a reasonable weight. Remember, height and weight charts are average and miss certain variables, including one that I consider to be most important, genetics. It’s not to say that if you come from family that is obese, you can’t change the cycle, but if you’re large boned, you have to take that in to account and not shoot for a weight that someone the same height, although small boned would weigh. It’s unique for everyone.
- Living weight is not about comparing. If you’re eating well most of the time, (eliminating fried and processed foods), exercising regularly, you’ll be where you need to be.
Living weight is just that, striving for good health but living in the process.
Here’s to YOUR living weight!
By Nicki On January 23, 2011 No Comments
Since implementing our 6-week Weight Loss Challenge at my studio, I have really enjoyed the dramatic changes some of our clients have made and continue to make. In my 20 plus years in this business, creating this challenge is simply a culmination of all that I have learned both personally and professionally about successful, sustainable weight loss. So what is it that has made this challenge work for our clients? It’s a number of things, but most important I believe is the emphasis on real life changes.
For years, people have been dieting and begrudgingly exercising all in an effort to lose weight. And one of two things happens, they either lose the weight and then go back to their previous lifestyle (which caused the weight gain to begin with) or they give up because change is not coming fast enough. Why? Because they never learn real life strategies, simply dieting strategies which is not sustainable. People need a whole different approach to weight loss. See, the thing is that people KNOW how to lose weight, but how do they sustain it? Only by learning practical strategies to change their lifestyle for good makes weight loss sustainable. It means teaching folks to be more active on a day-to-day basis in addition to formal exercise. Remember, most folks are sitting about 16 hours a day, not good. Go back a few generations when people cleaned their own homes, mowed their own lawn, walked or biked more than drove, etc. I call that active living. People MUST get back into being more active on a daily basis otherwise this horrific trend of diabetes, obesity and other weight related diseases will continue.
Next is food, look, we are a mess in this country when it comes to food. The book that best describes our food debacle is Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, read it. If you don’t change the way you eat after reading this book, I’d be surprised. We eat too much and too much of the wrong things. Processed foods dominate our daily intake and most people are getting their vegetables when served on a hamburger or as a garnish. People walk down the street carrying their gargantuan sugar laden or “pretend” sugar, no-foam, half-half, fat free flavor of the day coffees. It’s all about quantity and rarely about quality. This needs to change and that’s how I educate my clients. I tell them, “Don’t say, ‘No’ to junk food based on just weight, say, ‘No’ to those foods because it’s just plain bad for you. You may as well smoke a cigarette.” People have GOT to be more conscious and respectful of what their body needs versus what commercials tell them they need. 95% of the clients I meet with are regularly downing copious amounts of processed, sugar laden foods. Our approach with the 6 week challenge is to simply re-think what you’re putting in to your body. Diets don’t teach, lifestyle changes do.
Finally, the support. I don’t know about you, but before I figured out this weight thing, I did every diet in the world. But half way through the book or “class” if I had a question or felt like I was losing control, I had no one to turn to. Our program is called a 6 week challenge for a reason, change is hard, it’s a challenge and striving to replace old, unhealthy habits with new healthy ones is a challenge, but we help our clients do that. We ask them questions they need to know how to answer, “So, how are you going to handle Super Bowl weekend?” “What are you going to eat on vacation?” “What are your plans when going out to eat with friends?” It’s about being prepared and knowing what to do because old habits die hard.
Being successful at weight loss means getting back to basics, creating more activity in your daily life (it used to be that way naturally), eating whole, healthy foods (it used to be that way YEARS ago) and finding a solid resource for positive change. Getting back to basics, trusting what changes you know you need to make and finding the right path for you is the surest way to a healthy living weight. I’ll discuss “living weight” in my next blog.
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On October 24, 2010 No Comments
After 20 years in this industry the one constant is people who want to lose weight want to lose it NOW! No matter how often I may remind people that fast and easy is never a solution to long-term weight loss, somehow it doesn’t matter. It seems that the more shows depict weight loss as nothing more than a beginning and an end, it makes it tough for people to understand that in order to be successful, changes need to be constant, forever.
Why do diets fail? Because diets have a beginning and an end. Think about books, dates, television shows, movies, parties, etc. There is a beginning and there is an end, once it’s over, it’s over, done, kaput. This is what’s happens with weight loss, people jump on a diet to lose weight, they may or may not be successful but once they’ve reached the point of either success or frustration, it’s over, done, kaput. Diet’s fail because there is no sustainability, there is no education, there is no practical long-term strategies, instead the mind says, “I want to lose weight, I’ll stop eating until the weight is gone.” Bad idea.
I’ve recently implemented a new 6-Week Weight Loss Challenge at my studio. Why? Because I figure if people are going to be jumping in and out of diets, I’d rather have the privilege of helping them get started, while teaching the strategies for a lifetime of healthy habits. There have been some people that believe that the only way you can lose weight and keep it off is to get rid of EVERYTHING that tastes good; there is no truth in that. After almost 30 years of successful weight loss, I still “treat” myself to things that I like but know it would not be good if I ate them every day. I don’t punish myself when I have an ice cream cone, I eat it and move on.
I tell clients to start their challenge by thinking about food as “fuel” vs. calories. In other words, people will often be on a calorie restricted diet and want to stay under 1200 calories, so they don’t always choose healthy foods, or foods that will allow their body to run optimally, it’s more about staying within their chosen calorie count. How about choosing a food not based on calories, rather the health benefits? You see, I don’t eat french fries, but it’s not because I’m afraid I’ll gain weight, I don’t eat them because they’re nasty. Why would I want to put something in to my body that I know is low in nutritional benefits and potentially harmful to my health? Take smoking. Why don’t I smoke? Because it’s bad for me. The same goes with eating unhealthy foods consistently, why?
I’m a believer in balance and being realistic when changing your lifestyle, but television and the media have placed such an emphasis on size that health rarely enters the weight loss equation. In my 6-week weight loss challenge, I encourage my clients to think about their health, to think about the benefits of choosing more healthful foods and moving their body more. I encourage them to stop thinking about weight loss the whole time and instead, focus on the healthy habits they can begin to change. The truth is that slow and steady still applies to long-term weight loss success, it’s just a matter of getting those that have been brainwashed with bad diets to buy into the slow and steady belief system. Unfortunately, the mind has been tricked in to believing weight loss at any cost is good. Maybe it’s time to start changing your mind and believe that weight loss will never be successful if it’s not realistic.
Why not start today thinking about what small steps you can begin to make to change your life and your health? Weight loss isn’t a contest, it’s an opportunity to reclaim your health and engage more fully in your life. I can’t think of a better reason to change your mind about weight loss.
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On August 29, 2010 3 Comments
This past week a friend of mine shared with me that she has started taking diet pills, “just to help” expedite her weight loss goal. There was no question they had been working as she had already lost some weight, but the news really disappointed me. I’ve known this person for a long time and she has always believed that a healthy weight can only be achieved through regular exercise and eating well. She’s always brushed off diets and when her friends were jumping on some weight loss bandwagon, she would say, ” Don’t these people realize that the weight will come back? I’m not doing that any more.” So what was it that caused her to suddenly abandon her solid knowledge of weight loss and start taking a diet pill? “I’m only taking it for a few weeks,” she said. Although she joked about it, she had noticed her patience level was compromised and she was constantly thirsty (diuretic effect of weight loss pills) and a bit jumpy.
I asked her, “So what is the big difference? What is it about the pills that makes more sense than eating right regularly?” She said,”Well, I’m eating less because I’m not as hungry.” Ahhh, she’s eating less. Exactly. So basically, she needs something to force her to eat less. I said to her,”You can do this diet pill thing, but you realize that when you go off of it, it’s like losing a crutch. First of all the withdrawal probably won’t be fun and you’ll be back to what you were doing before. Use this as a learning experience. See how much food you’re cutting out, how many calories and write it down. LEARN from this that in truth, the ONLY secret to weight loss is cutting calories but ultimately, you’re going to have to do it naturally, without the aid of diet pills.”
I’m hopeful that she will realize that her weight loss is the result of simply cutting calories, there is no “magic” in the pill other than suppressing her appetite. I guess you could call that magic. But the side-effects are hardly worth it and the long-term results, not there. It comes down to what we know but don’t really like to hear, it’s making the decision to make changes that are controlled naturally, not by a drug, not by a pill or “diet” but by making the conscious choice to change. Spend time to find out what triggers eating too much and change it. Find out why you tend to overeat, then address it and change it. The only way that someone will experience long-term change is through long-term desire, period. It’s like taking illegal drugs to escape from it all, at some point you have to be responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment. Ultimately, it is you that is in charge of making things happen and reaching the goals you set. I hope she figures that out sooner rather than later.
By Nicki On August 18, 2010 No Comments
This picture brings back a lot of memories. I was about 17 years old and about 50 pounds overweight. I was miserable but hadn’t yet made the connection between my weight, my lifestyle and how I felt. It would be another year before I would finally have an “a-ha” moment and realize that I can’t keep doing what I’m doing and expect to age gracefully and most important, healthfully.
At the end of my senior year in high school, I had promised myself to get “moving” and start eating better. At the time, Weight Watchers was all about portion control and a nice variety of fruits and vegetables. It was because of that, I was able to lose the 50 pounds in a little over a year. That was almost 30 years ago which actually started my path in to the fitness arena. I know that taking the time to do it right, not pushing crazy starvation methods in place helped me so much in understanding what I like to call, “Food and mood.”
This past week, I was in Toronto lecturing to personal trainers at Can-Fit Pro. One of my lectures was, “Inspiring Clients to Move Beyond Diets and Into Good Health.” It is really my favorite lecture to present as so many in the audience can relate to it, whether personally or through a client they’re working with.
Going from diets to healthy living includes 5 key components, commitment, planning, clear goals, journaling and lastly, BELIEF! The belief that you actually CAN make the changes to a healthier lifestyle if you’re willing to follow the 4 other components. If you are not committed you will not succeed. If you cannot plan ahead, meals, grocery shopping, exercise, etc. you will not succeed. If you are not willing or able to set clear goals, you will not succeed. Lastly, if you’re not willing to journal (some believe the most important ingredient to long-term success) you will not succeed. You see, good things come from hard work and commitment and well, getting healthy is not easy until you’ve been doing it for awhile and like anything else, it’s gets easier as you go along. The more you do it, yes, the easier it gets. If you really want to change your life, you’re going to have to do some work. Not a “Debbie Downer” simply fact and I know, I’ve been doing it with others for years and I know personally, what it took for me to once and for all lose weight and keep it off!
I believe in my clients and I believe in their ability to succeed, but they have to believe in themselves as well. If they believe, they will certainly achieve. It is no different for you, do you believe?
Here’s to your health,
By Nicki On July 31, 2010 2 Comments
For the past 20 years, I have worked to inspire others to start and maintain a dedication to healthy living. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s a passion of mine that makes what I do very rewarding. Since I started in this business, much has changed. If you’re like me, you’ve probably jumped on the fat-free bandwagon, the oat bandwagon, low-carb, high-carb and any other “health” fad that came across weight loss radar. Like millions of people, if news was reporting that fat-free could save your life, by God fat-free was for me! However, in the last 5 or so years, I have come to understand that health and wellness information is like anything else we read, there are a hundred sides to every story. This means that it’s ultimately up to us to read, research and find out what is best for us and our body. What’s good for your sister, might not be the same for you.
In 20 years, the one constant I have found that is that weight loss is elusive for many because of nutrition. Yeah, yeah, exercise is certainly part of the equation but if push comes to shove and I have to pick, I would say that poor nutrition, or better said, confused nutrition is the reason that so many people struggle with weight. C’mon, how many times have you started an exercise program only to find that within 6 weeks the weight you’d lost was marginal and soon after tiring of the “diet” the weight came back, and then some?
I recently started training a new client. He’s very out of shape and for a young man, has lost control of nutrition. Additionally, like many other Americans, his job prevents him from keeping a regular exercise schedule alive. He’s pushing 50 and has been told by his doctor that changes need to be made or he’ll be on meds within 2 years. He came to me for exercise assistance and though we discussed the options for exercise, when it came to nutrition he said, “Well if I’m exercising, it really doesn’t matter, right?” WRONG! He believed that he would be burning off calories so that anything he ate wouldn’t matter. There’s two things here, first, people don’t often exercise hard enough or regular enough to create a consistent deficit = sustainable weight loss. That’s a common misconception. Second, no matter how much you exercise, the fuel that you put in to your body DOES matter. It’s no different than saying it doesn’t matter if you pour a gallon of paint in to the gas tank of your car. Um, yeah, it might make a difference. Same with food, you put junk in, low quality food and that’s what you get, feeling “icky” and low energy.
When I shared with my client that food was the majority of the weight loss puzzle he said, ” I wouldn’t know where to start, further, I have a very busy job.” I understand that all too well. So I encouraged him to first write down for a couple of weeks what he’s putting in his mouth. I think we can all agree that very often we’ll pay little attention to the quality of food we’re eating as long as we’re satisfied, right? Once he has an idea on his eating habits, where, why, what, THEN he can begin to address small changes here and there that don’t seem catastrophic to his current lifestyle. The truth is that many people aren’t willing to be inconvenienced by healthy changes, so the changes have to be small enough that they don’t seem that life altering. Make sense?
We are country that’s in a mess when talking about diet and exercise, there’s no doubt. But there is so much garbage, and promises of “easy” weight loss, that so many simply give-up because the task to lose weight and get healthy is daunting. For starters, ask yourself, “What do I want to change and why?” If you can answer that question with a response that will keep you focused, you can start making small changes. Start with something as basic as drinking more water. If you’re a diet soda drinker, strive to eliminate soda gradually from your diet. If you eat a lot of meat, try cooking some meals without meat (the internet is full of great recipes). If you’re a snacker, what is the quality of snacks you’re eating? If it’s chips, opt for a handful of almonds, or some rice crackers (not cakes, crackers) and a small bit of hummus. A bowl of fruit. We have gotten so far away from the foods we’re meant to eat and instead ended up in the land of processed foods and it’s killing us. Start paying more attention to ingredients in your foods, sodium amounts, additives and quantity of food, we eat waaaaay too much food. If you’re a sugar person, how can you start today, by reducing the amount of sugar in your diet? Do you eat plenty of vegetables each day? If not, how can you begin to incorporate more. These are a lot of questions, but start with just one thing, when you feel you’ve mastered it, move on to another change and so on and so on.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you cannot expect to change unhealthy habits in a week, a month or even a year. I personally still strive to improve my diet and knowledge of nutrition every single day. I am a firm believer in “food and mood,” when I eat well, I feel well. There is so much confusion about weight loss and nutrition it can make your head spin. Take it slow, listen to your body after you eat, what is it telling you? Your body is an amazing machine, trust that it has the ability to tell you what it needs and then be kind enough to respond positively.
There’s nothing more valuable than learning about healthy habits that can positively impact your life. Trial and error is part of the process, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know what opportunities are out there just waiting for you!
Here’s to a healthier you!
Some of my favorite books: An End to Overeating by Dr. David Kessler
101 Optimal Life Foods by David Grotto, RD, LDN
Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
Second Nature, A Gardners Education by Michael Pollan
By Nicki On May 16, 2010 2 Comments
Ahh spring, good-bye chill, hello warmth. One of the reasons I celebrate spring is because it is officially garden season. Woot-Woot! There is nothing more exciting than to watch the garden grow and ultimately bring produce in to my home that is no longer from the store, but my own backyard. (O.K. I have to give credit, where credit is due, my husband Bill does all the planting, I get to harvest and cook. 🙂 )
Last week, as I gathered some fresh radishes, green onions and lettuce to make the first garden salad of spring, I started to think about the disconnect that many people have with their food. In other words, it’s not about fueling (feeding) yourself, it’s simply about filling the tummy. My guess is years and years of fast-food and processed food has contributed to the disconnect. Additionally, people no longer pay attention to the importance (mentally and physically) that fresh, whole food provides for the body and soul.
I can’t tell you the number of people that have said, “Healthy eating means bland food and no taste.” Not so. The fact is that so many processed foods and fast-foods are loaded with salt and saturated fats, that people have forgotten what “real” food tastes like. Herbs can take any meal from weak to wow, it just takes time and experimentation.
Case-in-point, I was talking to a client of mine that is an avid “out-to-eater” and is working to try and make better choices. I encouraged him to start bringing his own lunch or find ways to include more home cooked meals. “Ahh, I just don’t like that food. I like the foods I get at restaurants.” And the reason he likes that food is that his palate has developed a fondness for high sodium and fat so when he attempts to eat a meal at home, it doesn’t taste as good. But the truth is that once you get back on track with “real” food, you’ll begin to realize just how unhealthy restaurant/fast food makes you feel. He is slowly making that connection and now realizes much of his lethargy has been due to his food choices.
It is my belief that processed foods are not only contributing to the demise of health in our country, but our appreciation for the value of good food and how it can positively contribute to good health, if we just give it a try. Think about how you feel when you’ve eaten well vs. how you feel when you’ve had a junk filled food day.
Hey look, been there, I get it. My diet used to consist of a 1/2 dozen chocolate filled donuts in the morning, Snickers for a mid-morning snack, a couple of tacos and chalupa for lunch, chips for a mid-afternoon snack and then whatever was being served for dinner. And then of course I went out with my friend later, a little alcohol and then a midnight snack which was typically huevos rancheros. Surprised? Sometimes I can’t believe the amount of unhealthy calories I used to consume. But once I made the connection between “mood and food,” my life changed and so can yours.
Start paying attention to how you feel when you consume healthier choices. Look, I’m not telling you to go out and start a garden, but why not start a little herb garden inside? When you go to the store, stick to the perimeter of the store as much as possible as that is where your healthier options are. Set a goal to start eating 2 vegetarian meals per week, or add a salad to 3 meals per week, etc. There are TONS of resources and recipes for creating healthier meals. My book is a great tool for gradually implementing healthy choices both for food and exercise. Opt for fruit and nuts for snacks vs. boxed bars that are loaded with sugar and preservatives. Given what I used to eat and where I am today, it is doable, if you’re willing and ready to change. And that is the key my friends, the willingness to change.
I know that when I harvest from my garden and consume the food from it, I am grateful for it. I am grateful for the opportunity to consume food that positively contributes to the body I was given. I just don’t think people give a second thought to the food they’re eating much less how it positively or negatively contributes to their health and everyday performance. Bottom line, we take food pathetically for granted.
So the next time you think about dieting, switch gears to connecting. Connecting with the foods that contribute to a better, healthier you. You don’t have to have a garden to do it. Simply start by purchasing more fruits, vegetables (especially when they’re in season, they’re cheaper) and when they’re not, frozen can work. After you’ve finished a healthy meal, connect to how you FEEL. The same holds true when you choose unhealthy options, pay attention to how you feel. My guess is that it will be vastly different than how you feel when eating whole, good-for-you foods.
I encourage you to start listening to your body and how it responds when you make the choice to fill yourself with a better grade of “fuel”. I know for me, the day I decided to choose health, that was the day I stopped dieting and finally achieved a healthier, stronger, leaner me. For that I am eternally grateful.
I want to hear your story. Have you struggled with healthy eating? Perhaps it’s because you’ve always used food for weight gain or loss. Maybe now is the time to use food for for it’s original intent, to fuel your body allowing it to perform optimally. That sounds a heck of a lot better than dieting, don’t you think?
Here’s to your health!
P.S. As a side note, I know there is always the argument of how expensive healthy eating can be. THat comes from lack of education and it is my mission to see how we can change that. Be sure and check out Jamie Olivers effort in his show Food Revolution. A must watch!