I’m grateful for the choices I’ve been given with regard to healthy living. The fact that I have choices, makes opting for good health a natural one.
This past weekend, my daughter came home from college to celebrate her older brother’s 26th birthday. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. Kids go from needing you desperately, to managing their own life. I suppose that’s the role of a parent, to raise them to be independent and a productive member of society.
I digress. Anyway, when she was home, we were out for lunch and commented that her friends thought we looked a lot alike, and I didn’t look my age. I’m sharing this because I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life choosing to take care of myself with diet, exercise and work/life balance. My other motivation to stay healthy is my family health history. My maternal Grandfather had a massive stroke at 38 which left him bedridden for 8 years until his death at 46. My paternal Grandfather was taken by a long, painful bout of cancer that took over his body and left him at 83 pounds and 62 years old when he died.
Because you cannot ignore the fact that genetics play a role in your health, it’s important to do what we can to preserve it. I know that’s been the case for me. Knowing that I needed to take good care of myself in order to have a better quality of life than my ancestors did, I ultimately chose my profession as a way to stay on top of my health as well as educate and inspire others to do the same.
My job has been tough as the diet industry continues to override my efforts to teach people to be more mindful of health versus size. The truth is people jeopardize their health every day all in an effort to be thin. Remember, thin and healthy are about as similar as cheese and chalk. So, what I teach and what I encourage is to let go of the “thin” phenomenon and look towards a lifestyle that offers good health and opens the doors to a better quality of life.
I can’t tell you what it will take to finally “get” that diets don’t work and weight doesn’t dissappear with simply a wave of a wand. I don’t know what it will take to embrace healthy living and let the whole weight focus go. Don’t get me wrong, 60% of the people I work with need to lose some weight, SOME weight. The reality is this, if you focus on living a healthier lifestyle, the weight will be where it needs to be. In fact, my clients that focus on changing their lifestyle, are the most successful at achieving a healthy weight that is lasting. Of course it’s important to take baby steps and make gradual changes. Trust me, gradual is key here. For every overzealous client I’ve had succeed, five have failed. Too much to soon is a sure ticket to injury or burn out.
So, I ask you to take a look at where your health is today. Is it where you want it to be? Are you able to make choices to change? We all have the choice to be active, and choose more nutritious foods and I consider that a privilege! Some don’t have a choice due to physical impairments or health issues. I am hopeful, that as you stand back and look at your current lifestyle, you can begin taking the necessary steps to encourage good health. Life does move forward at an amazing pace, and the older we get, the quicker it seems to go! So why not take the opportunity to choose good health to better enjoy your life, at any pace.
Here’s to your good health!
By Nicki On May 28, 2011 2 Comments
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 April 10, 2011 No Comments
This past week I hosted my 6th orientation at my studio for my 6-week Weight Loss Challenge. For the orientation, I had yet another speaker that has successfully met “the challenge” to tell her story. (Check out our other success stories). This week, Reality Fitness welcomed Marty Hammond and she shared how she has managed to lose 5 dress sizes and 30 pounds in 5 months.
” When I started this program 5 months ago, I only came to the orientation because my husband Mike wanted to support Nicki’s program. But as I sat and listened to Nicki’s emphasis on losing weight for better health and quality of life I thought, ‘Hmmm, maybe this is something I should try. I’ll call next month when I’m not so busy.” Normally that call would have never happened, but having a 2 pot-a-day coffee habit and struggling with extra weight, I figured maybe it’s time to make some changes. When I started the program there were 4 things Reality Fitness gave me.
The first tool they gave me was a compass, or what I like to refer to as a GPT, Great Personal Trainer. I could not have made the progress I’ve made without Jon. Next, they gave me a map, which was my food plans. Nothing crazy, just focused on getting rid of garbage as I knew I needed some structure. I gave up a 2 pot-a-day coffee habit and drink only tea now. I would often eat in my car, typically fast food. I was on my way with my compass and my nutrition. With those two components in place, I was then given keys, which was my journal. I liken it to AAA roadside assistance. The journal held me accountable and made me aware of what I’m putting in my mouth. Nicki said at the orientation, ‘If you’re not willing to journal, you are not willing to be successful.’ I know how true that statement is now that I’ve been doing it for 5 months. Then, I had to have fuel, and that fuel was the Happy Monday letters Nicki sends out to those of us participating in the challenge as well as the motivation I received from my trainer.
After all of these wonderful tools for success I received from Reality Fitness there was one thing missing, the driver. No one would take the wheel for me and drive to my destination, it was up to me to grab the wheel and take control. The biggest benefit of grabbing the wheel and taking control was knowing that I was in charge of my destiny. ”
Marty is now training for 5K’s and enjoying an improved quality of life. Her husband came to support her and told me, “She’s now outrunning me!” No doubt, a couple that exercises together, stays together!
I have been in this business a very long time, I have seen fads come and go. I have seen people go to ridiculous lengths to lose weight, rarely if ever keeping the weight off. Every time they would gain the weight back, the weight of failure became heavier than the weight on the scale. The difference with our clients success is not only their determination to once and for all make positive changes, but the support they receive long after the 6 weeks is past. Big changes require a lot of support and our clients get that from us. I think that if we’re able to develop programming on a national scale (no pun intended) that helps put people in the drivers seat, but gives them support during, before and after, that will be the key to long-term success. I’m see it in my studio every day. There is nothing that inspires me more than seeing people that are ready to change, make the change, and finally realize change can be a very positive thing.
By Nicki On March 6, 2011 1 Comment
After working with clients for close to 20 years and keeping 50 pounds off for more than 30 years, I am all too familiar with the challenges weight loss efforts bring. I feel confident in saying that much of the weight issues in our country stem from two very basic things, poor nutrition and little exercise. Yet as much as exercise and better nutrition is encouraged, motivation is still lacking for many.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, when you look at obesity numbers from 40 years ago, they pale in comparison to the numbers today, why? Lifestyle, pure and simple. People eat too much, they eat too much of the wrong food (convenient, high-sugar, processed, fried foods) and move too little, thanks to the internet and modern conveniences. Given that most of you probably know all this, there is something that I feel is missing when educating people about developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and that is, the ability to create a new normal.
40 years ago, normal meant being naturally active, people mowed their own lawns, cleaned their own homes, washed their own cars (if they had one), actually got up to change the television channel, (gasp!) fast food restaurants were rare and most often was ice cream was eaten at birthdays only.
Compare that to today’s lifestyle, many people hire out so calories that were expended around the house are stored. Fast food restaurants have become the norm, (since the 70’s fast food restaurants available in the US has tripled). Processed snacks are advertised on television as if a necessity. There’s no longer the need to change our televisions because many are watching it on their computer while playing games, or reading the paper or checking out sport stats. The new normal is inactivity and overeating. However, maybe it’s time to consider creating a different normal, one that is realistic for today’s lifestyle, but necessary for improving the quality of health in this country.
Why not make regular exercise the new normal? Why not make eating more vegetables and seeking a more plant based diet your new normal? Why does everything have to be a “diet” to lose weight or always a structured form of exercise and activity? Why not simply change (gradually) the way you choose to eat and find ways to include more movement in your daily life, creating your new normal?
The truth is that we have made this 40 year lifestyle shift a money-making machine for a lot of people, i.e. diet programs, weight loss supplements, surgeries, and countless pharmaceuticals. Global Weight Loss and Gain Market (2009 – 2014)’, published by MarketsandMarkets, said the total global weight loss market is expected to be worth US$586.3 billion by 2014. Add in all the processed foods (which at times I think work in conjunction with weight loss programs,”We help people gain the weight, you have them lose it”). It becomes a vicious cycle and a win-win for these companies, and to what end? The weight loss and processed food manufacturers may be winning, but clearly we are losing everything but the weight we need to be healthy.
It really is about creating a new, healthy normal. Look at the “natural” activity that was the norm 40 years ago. Granted, you may not have time to clean your home, or wash your car or mow your own lawn, which is fine, but you’re going to need to make up that lack of activity somewhere. Find YOUR new normal, find YOUR way of becoming more active every single day which used to be the norm. Find ways to eat better food more often and realize that processed food is preventing you from creating a naturally, healthy lifestyle, your new normal. What are you going to do about it? Are you willing to take action and decide that it’s time to create your new normal or are you willing to sit back and continue with what has become our country’s normal, a disease based lifestyle.
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 December 5, 2010 No Comments
For those of you that have read my blog for awhile, you know I’ve never romanticized weight loss, nor have I ever promoted diets. For 20 years, I have always maintained that a healthy weight is a by-product of a healthy lifestyle, and the scale does not necessarily dictate good health. In all my years of business, I would imagine that the average number of diets my clients have experienced go well beyond 50. Yet with all of those diets, none ever stuck. In fact, the only folks I know that have experienced long-term success, are those who made the decision to change their lifestyle, for good. Hmmm. I really struggle with the success of the diet industry given the poor results. I really don’t get it. If I bought a product and it broke after one use, I’d bring it back. I’d probably try another figuring that maybe that particular one was defective. But if the second one didn’t work, I’d never use that product again. Sure, there are different diets so perhaps there is the hope that maybe one of them will be the winner. The one constant with every diet is that it’s one dimensional, i.e. weight loss only. So for most people, once they lose the weight, there is nothing is place to support the changes they’ve made and keep them motivated enough to sustain the weight loss. Additionally, and most important to me, real life skills to replace unhealthy habits are rarely taught yet they are mandatory to sustain weight loss.
This past summer, more than usual, people were asking me about diets. Given my business, I always have people asking me, “which diet is the best?” I always respond with, “Whatever diet works for you and keeps you healthy.” As I started seeing more and more advertisements about weight loss, “Lose 15 pounds in 15 days” I thought more deeply about my efforts with clients to assist them in creating their “own” diet. I realized that’s a really hard thing to do because most people are looking for fast and easy, it’s the way of the world today, people want change NOW, not tomorrow, not next week, NOW.
I talked to a few clients and asked them what aspects of a diet “pulled them in” and what elements prevented them from keeping their weight loss efforts consistent? The aspects that were most helpful was the structure of a nutrition program. In other words, it’s sort of like personal training. People love training because they don’t have to think about the exercise, they show up, I train them and they leave. They didn’t have to give any thought to how the program was laid out, the method behind it, etc. They just did what they were told. It’s the same thing with a diet, you’re told what to eat, when to eat it and you don’t have to think about it. I get it, and like you, it is nice not to have to think about what you’re going to eat next or what exercise comes next in your repertoire. However, the truth is that like a bike with training wheels, eventually you’re going to have take the training wheels off and go it alone. Same with weight loss, eventually you need to LEARN what you need to do in order to gain independence and sustain your efforts. That is why people shift from diet, to diet, to diet, they never LEARN what they need to do forever, for the long-term.
The elements that many people said were missing from diet success was accountability. In other words, when there were challenges with a diet, there was no one they could go to and ask questions. If the scale crept up, who was going to let them know that as long as they’re consistent, they will be fine, weight fluctuates, it’s normal. When struggling with a nutrition program, if there is no one standing in your corner cheering you on and helping you weed through what makes sense for you and what doesn’t, success is highly unlikely. One of the reasons my business remains strong is that I have created a positive, educated source of accountability for my clients.
With all the this information, I finally decided this past fall to put all that I have learned over 20 years together and created a program for my clients that offers all the elements necessary for successful, long-term weight loss and healthy living. It’s funny, necessity stimulates innovation and I know for me, my desire to help my clients feel better, live stronger and more confidently was the secret behind creating one of the most successful programs I’ve ever put together for my clients. But more than anything, my clients are winning not only at the weight loss piece, but the LEARNING piece and for that, I am thrilled. Finally, I can offer something to my clients that helps them achieve the weight loss that they so desperately seek, yet all along they are learning what’s necessary to not only lose the weight, but to sustain it, and that my friends is the real secret to success!
I hope you can join me on December 8th or January 5th at 7:00 p.m. at my studio as I share the program that’s helping people discover an alternative to diet hopping. My goal has always been to EDUCATE people on sensible weight loss and how to implement a program that works for their lifestyle and their personal goals. It’s helping people realize that change is possible AND sustainable, you just have to be ready and have the right source of support.
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On October 31, 2010 1 Comment
There is no doubt that there is a prejudice against women, men and children of size. I can speak from experience as prior to losing my weight, I was treated differently by men, friends and perfect strangers. Yes, I remember buying donuts and a local donut shop and having people look at me thinking, “Like that girl needs a donut?” For me, that was a tough time especially because it was during my teen years and while all my friends were complaining about gaining 2 lbs. and hitting the 100 pound mark, I just wanted to feel better. I’d just roll my eyes and wonder what it would feel like to complain about being skinny. I was called “Bertha” as I walked down the halls and barked at, it wasn’t pretty, in fact it was pretty darn painful.
At the age of 18, things changed for me. I changed my lifestyle and yes, people’s attitudes toward me changed. Why? Because I was no longer perceived as fat. However, the interesting thing is, I’m the same person I was 50 pounds heavier. I laugh at the same jokes, I still love the same dorky music and I still have feelings, I haven’t changed. Yet somehow, people think that extra weight is some type of barrier against pain, both emotional and physical. Additionally, they think that extra weight immediately exempts feelings and awareness. With all the prejudice out there, it’s amazing how people think that someone different is immediately void of humaneness when in fact the people pointing the finger are the ones perhaps missing some level of it.
This past week there was a very hurtful, nasty, angry blog written by Maura Kelly, a freelance writer for Marie Claire magazine. The title of the post was, “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room?” The post was, in my opinion, very unprofessional and for a brief moment, I sensed a bit of intention, in that perhaps the blog was written to generate readership. Just a thought, it happens. But aside from that, reading the post made me sick to my stomach (almost as sick as when I hear the “n” word used for my black friends or the “f” word used for my gay friends).
The tone of the blog was so intense that I felt as though she was writing to someone specific, someone that she was angry at, not to the general population. Perhaps written to herself based on her history of anorexia. Of course with the uproar came an apology, was it genuine? Who knows. All I know is that the words written shall forever be part of this writers shadow. This blog was a reminder that prejudice is still alive and well in our country and it goes way beyond color or gender, unfortunately.
But out of bad there is always some level of good. What the blog did do was the raise awareness about the perception about different sizes in our world. It brought about some really great discussion about size and acceptance, etc. I have always believed that we were not designed to all be tall and thin. Do I want my friends and family to be healthy? Absolutely, but health is not always determined by size as I have known many “thin” people that lived on Diet Coke and Snickers.
For years I have touted that size is not necessarily indicative of health. Although our society has slowed down, and healthful food offerings are not always accessible, the truth is that size has never been an indicator of character any more than color or religion. I am a firm believer that good health comes in all sizes and although I am concerned with obesity related health issues, we have to get a closer look at the numbers that really threaten our society and that is the number of uneducated people pointing the finger at those that don’t fit the “ideal” ….whatever that is.
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 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!