Nicki Anderson
Archive for the ‘childhood obesity’ Category

Olympic Athletes and Fast Food. Huh?

By Nicki On August 7, 2012 No Comments

Here’s Michael Phelps and Apolo Ohno with the CMO of Subway, Tony Pace. You’re likely thinking the same thing I am.

 

Though the Olympics play a rather large role in getting people active again, it’s a bit of a paradox when these average every day folks see Olympians touting their devotion to fast-food restaurants and junk food, primarily McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. These companies are the proud Olympic Partners.

Wait,  let’s see if I’m getting this right, the most stellar physical athletes in the world claim that junk food is their go-to food when training and performing? I’m not buying it, but unfortunately plenty of other people will because, “Heck, if it’s good enough for Olympic athletes, it’s good enough for me!”

In my opinion, there’s a sense of responsibility on behalf of the Olympics and the athletes. Remember the scuttlebutt over American Olympic uniforms being made in China? People were aghast. Doesn’t the fact that hamburgers, fries and soda are being condoned by athletes and the Olympics ruffle a few feathers, somewhere?

The athletes are doing their fair share of getting the junk food message into the living rooms of families watching the events. LeBron James, Loul Deng, Apollo Ono, Shaun Johnson and others are pitching foods that just don’t connect to their performance and physical fitness. It doesn’t make sense to me. Oh wait, I hear a “ching,ching” in the background- money. That’s right, that silly little thing that often trumps just about everything else, integrity, health of our country (which by the way has a huge obesity issue) and well, good old fashioned conscious.

 

Henry Cejudo is a freestyle wrestler and Olympic gold medalist. He’s one of Coke’s 8Pack Athletes. Sort of sounds like a 6 pack, which is not what you’ll get drinking this.

Though we are incredibly proud of the performance these athletes have executed, the blatant promotion of “carbage” is somehow disheartening. I will say, Subway stays away from deep fried foods and does offer veggie sandwiches. But for the most part, junk food is NOT what allows these athletes  to perform at such a high level. Basically, it’s false advertising.

Shaun Johnson and her buddy, Ronald.

Some will ask, “What’s the big deal with having junk food once in awhile?” Well, the fact is that there are those who understand moderation, but tell that to an 8  year old who loves the gymnasts and sees them promoting McDonald’s, suddenly that is what she’s going to clamor for. If he or she is lucky enough, she’ll have a parent that understands moderation. But for many others (remember the obesity issue I  mentioned earlier?) not the case. Bottom line, it’s a mixed message, pure and simple.

I have to give kudos to Ryan Lochte, who obviously didn’t let the endorsement cash get to him. He gave up junk food two years ago. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard anyone praise his efforts not only from a physical fitness and health standpoint, but for someone who didn’t get sucked in by a multi-million dollar contract.

I’m certainly not a purist, but when it comes to inspiring the next generation of athletes, there is some responsibility that should be realized by the Olympics and the athletes.  In my opinion, promoting fast-food restaurants and soda is no different than promoting Marlboro reds after a long workout. (Yes, junk food can contribute to cancer). LeBron, got a light?

 

Here’s to your health!

 

Nicki


Why We Overeat and Why Obesity Won’t Go Away

By Nicki On August 2, 2012 3 Comments

While I was traveling last month I was sitting in an airport and watched a family finish off hamburgers and fries. One of the younger kids about 5 or 6 asked his Mom, “Do I have to eat all of it?” She responded, “Just eat it and be quiet.”  Hmm, my heart sank for 2 reasons. One, she really never answered his question and two, how will he ever learn what good food tastes like and how enjoy it? My hunch is that   more people simply eat for satiety while dismissing  flavor, nourishment, and enjoyment.
We can all agree that family dinners are not like they used to be. When I was a kid, unless my folks were going out to eat, we always ate together. When my kids were growing up, I tried to do most of our meals as a family, but when sports season rolled around that became tough. The bottom line is that we grab and go never thinking about what’s actually going in to our body, and how it may positively or negatively affect our health.
I read t his quote recently and it sums up my thoughts, “If we looked at eating as an activity to relish rather than as an invitation to gluttony, we’d all be not only healthier but happier.” –  Michelle Stacey
I have to admit, I have not always been passionate about food. When I was 50 pounds overweight, I ate for satiety, nothing more. But once I realized the way I was living wasn’t serving me well, I not only set out to change my habits, I set out to educate myself.  Learning has been a process. There’s rarely a day that passes, that I don’t learn something new about nutrition and the foods that serve to fuel positive health vs. foods that take away from health.
 Diets, weight loss pills and drinks are not the secret to anything healthy, including weight loss. I have always believed that a healthy weight is the result of a healthy diet, and I mean diet in the sense that it’s what you put in your body. Simply acknowledging that nature provides everything we need to be healthy and strong. Solid, whole nutrition can’t be found in a box or in a fast-food restaurant. The closer your food is to natural, the less you have to worry about fat, sodium and calories. Most “natural” foods are impossible to overeat, and are naturally balanced when it comes to fat, sodium and calories.
The next time you feel dissatisfied with your weight, look beyond that and instead address what you’re eating. What percentage of the foods you eat are natural, whole foods, veggies, fruits and grains? How much of what you’re eating is processed? Boxed? Fast-food? By simply making small changes each week, perhaps start with including 1 extra whole veggie per day in your diet. Once that happens, add another and so on. Instead of fries, experiment with grains, brown rice, couscous, etc.  It takes time, and changing your palette is often the hardest part of it. But you can do it.
Why is obesity such an issue? Because we ignore body signals (disease, bloating, indigestion, etc.) and continue  our addiction (fat, sodium and sugar) which takes over and rules food choices. As long as we continue to overfeed our body the wrong foods, we will never gain control over our weight, pure and simple.
Remember that just one small change today can be the positive difference in your health tomorrow.
Here’s to your health!
Nicki

Wanna Lose Weight? Check Out Your Local Farmers Market

By Nicki On June 5, 2012 No Comments

How I love the first Farmer's Market of summer!

For years, I’ve been telling people that weight loss is a byproduct of lifestyle, period. Yet many continue to jump on the latest diet trend in hopes of finding the miracle that once and for all melts unwanted fat and delivers the ideal body. Though intellectually people know that’s never going to happen, emotionally it’s a wish many still make every day.

I have always touted whole foods as the secret to a healthy weight. Even with my first book over 10 years ago, I gave the same advice then as I do today; in order to achieve a healthy weight,  you need to consider moderate portions of whole, REAL foods.

We have discovered through many studies and personal experience, that excess weight comes from so much of the processed foods we eat. Folks continue to be sucked in by confusing labels that promote, “All natural, gluten-free, fat-free, calorie-free,” it doesn’t matter, they’re likely garbage.

One of the great things about dabbling in the world of health and wellness is that there is always something new, and very often fleeting. For example, remember oats back in the 90’s as being the secret to weight loss? Fat-free in the 80’s? Yet here we are, still battling with our weight and hoping that the miracle that comes along will be fast, easy, painless and permanent.

Will something like that ever happen? As a  matter of fact, it’s something that’s been around forever, it’s just that diets are far more glamorous and make the truth far less attractive. The truth, real food. Yep, whole, natural food. No boxes no wrappers, no nothin’, simply whole, real foods. And there’s no better time than summer to experiment, and check out the vast selection of these amazing, natural foods that are kind to your body and your waistline.

As summer kicks in, Farmers Markets are opening and gaining in popularity. Farmers Markets are a wonderful way for small family farms to connect with their community, share their bounty of beautiful, fresh and in some instances, organic produce. I can promise you that the moment you choose to exchange your processed, diet foods for the real thing, change will happen. Your body will thank you for giving it what it needs by losing extra weight and operating in a more energetic way.

Nothing more beautiful than summer harvest!

However, no matter how healthy food is, quantity is still to be noted. I like to follow my Q2 rule, quality and quantity. Just because something is healthy, doesn’t mean I should eat enough to feed 2 families. Part of being healthy is being kind to your body which includes not overeating.

If you’ve struggled with achieving a weight you’re happy with, why not support your local farmers while supporting your health? There’s nothing better than a meal full of fresh vegetables to make your body love you.  And the best part of all, you’ll likely love your body back.

 

Here’s to your health!

Nicki


Kids and Obesity- Who Is To Blame?

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.

Georgia's Childhood Obesity ad campaign

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!

Nicki


Weight, We’ve Got It All Wrong!

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.”

Dr. Andrew Weils' Healthy Food Pyramid

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(nicki@realityfitness.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,

Nicki


A Personal Trainer’s 2012 Wish List

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!

Nicki


Conscience Eating

By Nicki On July 11, 2011 No Comments

There is a great article written by Craig Harper, “How to Become a Conscious Eater.” In the article he says, “Many people eat unconsciously. They eat on autopilot. They eat what they don’t need. Every day. And then they (strangely) wonder why they’re fat. And unhealthy. They eat processed crap. They eat socially. They eat because it’s expected. Because it’s there. Because it’s free (wouldn’t want to waste anything). They eat emotionally. Re-actively. They reward themselves with food. And their children too. Sometimes they bribe (motivate, manipulate, control) their kids with food. ‘If you do… (insert task)… I’ll take you to McDonalds for dinner’.  Awesome parenting. They fantasize about food. Lie about it. They eat to ease the pain. To give themselves instant physical pleasure. To numb out. To escape. To fit in. To forget.”

When I read this article the first time, I could relate to so much of what he wrote.  There were some things that hit me hard as at one point in my life, I did bribe and cajole my kids….. I used M&M’s for potty training. O.K., I admit it,  but my kids are no worse for the wear, but I get the point that he is making. We use food for all of the wrong reasons, and if I’m using food as a tool to bribe, it’s lost its true value.

What I love most about his article is that he hits the nail on the head when he says, “We eat on autopilot.”  He’s right, I see it in my clients every day and during my dieting days, I too was guilty.  I just put food in my mouth and ate it without even questioning it’s benefits. Sure, I counted calories here and there (when I was trying to lose weight) but quality of the food? Who cares? It was low in calories and I was taught that was all that mattered. So sad.

Fortunately, since that time, I have learned and read so much more.  I have had the good fortune of knowing people who are every bit a conscious eater. I have also encountered those that are completely disconnected from the food they’re putting in their body.  I have observed and learned from watching both practices and find 30 years after losing 50 pounds, being a conscious eater is vital.  When I can “feel”  how the foods I eat allow me to be stronger and more focused, I’m grateful. When I used to snarf down a candy bar, I never gave a second thought as to how it made me feel.

In my opinion, food isn’t the culprit in obesity, it is the lack of knowledge about food and the disrespect of food that has taken obesity to the level it is at today.

Let me give you an example. When I struggled with weight, every day I counted my calories. Sure, I knew that vegetables and fruit were good for me but I was more interested in what was good for the scale, so I rarely paid attention to quality only quantity. I was sucked in to the “diet food” that promised to help whittle my waist down. So, I lived on diet food and I continued to feel lousy and deprived. During that time,  nothing ever really tasted good, but that was the price to pay for a svelte figure. Or so I thought.  Even as a young Mom, I would live on Rice Cakes (because they were low in fat) and skip meals in order to pig out at a big event. Ugh! It was what I knew and at the time what magazines told me, so I believed it!

Fast forward 30 years. Whenever I prepare a meal, I never put anything in my mouth (O.K., almost never) without thinking about the benefits derived from my food choices.  I have come to understand that the more I eat whole, nutrient dense foods, the better I feel, without question. I love learning about the benefits of fresh herbs and green leafy veggies. I love playing with new recipes and feeding it to my family and watching them enjoy every last bite. I love pulling that first leaf of lettuce out of my garden and tasting it completely. I love the first raspberries of summer, and popping them in my mouth right from the bush. Nothing tastes better.

I haven’t counted calories in 20 years. I haven’t counted calories because I realized I wasn’t learning anything about food other than which had the least amount of calories. Once I started learning about the quality of foods, and the benefits of eating “real” food, I was no longer worried about calories. You’ll find it’s very hard to overeat “real” food because it’s typically high in fiber and satiety.When’s the last time you ate 5 oranges in one sitting? But, I bet you’ve knocked off a whole bag of chips.  Get my  point?

Craig Harper defines conscious eating as follows,“Conscious eating is giving our body the nutrition it needs for optimal health, function and energy. Nothing more or less.” 

I couldn’t agree more. Eating is about giving your body what is needs to operate optimally. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, good-for-you foods were given a bad rap in that many believe healthy foods are typically bland. The truth is there is no better tasting food than that food that is fresh and nutrient rich. It’s just that so many people are used to the crazy amount of salt and fat often found in fast food. As a side note, you can season food with some unbelievable herbs and create far tastier meals than any fast food restaurant can offer.

If we continue to ignore the foods our bodies so desperately need and continue to buy packaged, processed foods, or jump onto the next crazy diet, we may never realize the benefits of eating really great foods. Once you are able to make the distinction between “diet” foods and really good-for-you foods, you will never diet again, yet you’ll be healthier than you’ve ever been. That’s my hope anyway.

In health,

Nicki


The Food Puzzle

By Nicki On May 15, 2011 No Comments

After close to 30 years of studying nutrition, I find we are no closer to a clear understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. So many agendas, so much money to be made, so many opinions, it makes it rather tough for the average American to clearly understand what the truth is when it comes to a healthy diet.  I had a couple new clients this week and all of them echoed the same concerns, “I’m so confused about what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, what’s the truth?”  Given that I am not an R.D. I’m mindful of how much information I feel comfortable sharing with my clients, so I often provide websites for clients to visit. That way, they can form their own opinions about what makes sense to them and their lifestyle. But in my years as a fitness professional, I have learned a lot and here of some of the lessons I have learned.

1. We eat too much, period. Further, we eat too much of the wrong things. We have gotten away from whole, fresh foods as the norm and ended up with boxed, processed foods as the new norm. Our foods are loaded with ingredients we can’t pronounce, along with a surplus of sugar, fat and sodium.  With the explosion of “diet food” and trends, we are led to believe that something like “100 calorie packs” are healthy for us, when it fact, it’s simply a smaller amount of processed food and questionable ingredients.  The goal should be to get as close to natural and whole food as we possibly can. It’s supply and demand, the more we seek out whole foods, the greater the likelihood of them being more readily available.Unfortunately, there is far more money to be made in processed foods that have a long shelf life.

2. All too often people confuse dieting with eating healthy, that’s not always the case. Some diets offer pre-prepared boxed foods. Weight loss programs don’t focus on quality of food, simply quantity. The truth is anyone can lose weight if they cut down the amount of food they’re eating, but if you’re eating a snickers bar because it has less calories than an avocado, you’re missing the point. Sustainable weight loss comes from focusing on quality and quantity. Reassessing what you’re eating, how you can improve the quality of the food you’re eating while reducing the quantity. It’s a common held belief that if food is “healthy” you don’t have to worry about how much you eat. Our country has become obsessed with “how much can I get away with eating without gaining weight?”  Not a good approach. The better approach is “How can I learn to eat well, feel well and sustain those healthy habits?”  But diets perpetuate the misconceptions and as long as people are losing weight (even though it’s often temporary), they don’t question it.

3. We are a powerhouse country, we are well-educated yet our country is suffering from staggering numbers of health maladies as a result of poor nutrition and inactivity.  Even worse, for the lower income families their options of fresh fruits and veggies are limited. We make it easier and more affordable to go to McD’s and get a happy meal than to receive education on how to make great, healthy meals on a shoestring budget. It’s possible, but it’s not a money making proposition for large food manufacturers that mass produce “carbage.”  We are led to believe that with busier lives and less money, the only food we can afford (both in time and money is junk food), I beg to differ. Perhaps we need to spend more money on developing programs that teach options for healthy nutrition. ”

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

4. Parents think they’re doing their kids a favor by buying in to the highly commercialized boxed, processed foods. The truth is….I did it. I shudder to think that at one time I bought my kids junk snacks masked as “natural” including those fruit roll-ups things which barely pass as food. It wasn’t until I really started studying nutrition that I came to know that the fruit roll-ups were  made up of:  corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and a variety of artificial colors and o.k. pear concentrate. When I finally started studying what I was putting in to my child’s body, I stopped. My kids were not happy, but I certainly knew that in the long-run, it was what I needed to do to give my kids the best start possible. Just as we educate our kids about the dangers of smoking and drinking, so should we focus on educating them on healthy eating.

5. So much information so little time. Here’s the way I look at it, you can’t go wrong with whole foods, you just can’t. Granted there is the debate about organic vs. non-organic, I won’t go in to my thoughts on that now, but the bottom line is that the closer you can get to natural food, the better off you’re going to be, period. If I buy anything that is boxed or wrapped, I read the ingredients. If it has more than 3 ingredients that I can’t pronounce, I take a pass. We can take control of our health by taking control of what we put in our mouth. I don’t want my nutrition information coming from organizations that are funded by Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, General Mills, Mars, etc. how can the information be objective? Um, it’s not.

Here’s the bottom line. There’s no shortage of nutrition information out there. It’s hard to research because links often take you to places that are trying to pedal their wares. As stated earlier, I’m not an RD, I am simply passionate about seeing  the health of our country improve by educating kids and families properly. The sad truth is that if we don’t get a handle on this obesity issue due to poor nutrition and inactivity(nutrition being the biggest contributor), the future of our country will be weak at best.

Following are just a few of the websites I recommend.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Dave Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life!

Teri Gentes a Whole Self Health Lifestyle Wellness and Natural Nutrition Educator

Michael Pollan – Author of Omnivores Dilemma

How to find sustainable fruits and veggies in your community

Mark Bittman – Author of Food Matters, Food Matters Cookbook

Eric Schlosser- Author of Fast Food Nation

Morgan Spurlock – Author of  Don’t Eat This Book – Fast Food and the Super Sizing of America

Dr. Mark Occhipinti -President of American Fitness Professionals and Associates

Movies to check out – Food, Inc., Forks Over Knives, Super Size Me

 

Here’s to Your Good Health,

Nicki



Creating Your New “Normal”

By Nicki On March 6, 2011 1 Comment

Seriously?

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.

Nicki


Living Weight- The Healthy Way to Live

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!

Nicki