Nicki Anderson
Archive for the ‘childhood obesity’ Category

Getting Back to Basics for Weight Loss

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!

Nicki


Where Did We Lose the Fun with Exercise?

By Nicki On January 8, 2011 5 Comments

I recently started training a 14 year old girl. She’s never been interested in organized sports and the idea of exercise is, well, a turnoff for her. She doesn’t understand how people can ‘LOVE’ exercise and finds it odd that people actually do it every day. For me, I totally get it. I too was a teen that resisted exercise because it looked like too much work for something I wasn’t good at.  Friends of mine that were athletic, were naturally athletic. I had to work too hard to look like I sort of knew what I was doing, and failed miserably. It had a negative affect on my self esteem and only reminded me how uncoordinated I was. Athletics was  was not my thing, so I stayed away from any kind of exercise because I thought being uncoordinated meant you couldn’t exercise. After all, exercise was for fit people, not me.

This past week when I was working with my new client she said, “Nicki, why is exercise always taught to be so hard? When I exercise with you I feel like I’m out on the playground with my friends, it’s fun.”  She couldn’t have paid me a higher compliment. What I said to her was, “Exercise is fun, you just have to find the right activity for you. Anyway, exercise is just a formal word for moving fun!” The truth is that for everyone, moving is necessary. When I was a kid we were outside all the time playing. We didn’t have access to snack food the way kids do today and we didn’t have computers to entertain us the way kids do. There are more reasons for kids to sit today rather than reasons to move.  We need to remind those kids that aren’t athletes that moving doesn’t have to be about sports. We also need to remind them of genetics and that every body is different.  We need to teach them to embrace their body vs. being ashamed because they’re not the same size as the latest reality star.  We need to encourage kids to realize the potential of their body and that it is designed to move, they just have to find the movement that feeds their soul, increases their self-esteem and is FUN!”

Unfortunately, kids that aren’t ‘natural’ athletes believe that they can’t be active, but that thought couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to make exercise fun for both kids and adults alike. I have plenty of adult clients that loathe exercise and it’s my job to create an environment of fun. If they’re having fun, they’re going to keep coming back to it and feel good about their experience. If we put exercise in to such a structured box that it becomes exclusive, we will lose a lot of people to inactive lifestyles.

There is no better time than now to teach kids and adults that exercise (formal word for fun movement) can be fun. Create a playground in your basement, or in your backyard that includes a variety of games and activities. There is an abundance now of video games that encouragse activity including Dance, Dance, Revolution, Wii Fit and Dance Mania. If I would have known that exercise didn’t have to be about going to a gym and humiliating myself through some poorly suited exercise class, or joining an organized sport, I think I would have been a lot more active. But kids and adults now have the opportunity to find FUN in exercise. As a fitness professional, that’s always my goal to help them do just that!

Here’s to finding fun in your fitness routine!

Nicki


Sometimes Kids DO Listen to Their Mothers

By Nicki On November 26, 2010 No Comments
College Graduate Thomas Mitchell Anderson

College Graduate Thomas Mitchell Anderson

Just 48 hours ago, my 3rd son Mitch graduated from college. I don’t think there is anything more gratifying to a parent than their child graduating from college. (This may change when my first child gets married!) High school is great, but college is different. It’s knowing they survived the pressure, the freedom, the challenges and hard decisions all on their own.  Above all of that, is the pride that you feel when you see all those years of parenting, the good, bad and ugly actually pay off.

I was never in my kids face about exercise and nutrition. Sure, they make fun of me to this day about how boring our house was with the snack choices, but I simply tried to lead by example and show my kids rather than telling them. For those of you that are parents or teachers, or aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. leading by example is probably the best way to communicate with kids. My kids saw me exercise regularly and they saw that I avoided unhealthy foods and pretty much stuck with healthier options. But they also saw me enjoy my share of indulgences which is important in teaching balance with healthy living.

My son graduated from Full Sail University in Florida. It’s a non-traditional media arts school that focuses on the strengths of kids coming in versus trying to force them in to a one-size-fits-all educational system. It’s a rigorous program that is not for the faint of heart. Usually, more than half the kids drop out in the first 6 months because the curriculum is so intense. But for those that know what they want, it feeds their creative edge. All four of my kids have taken their unique route, 2 traditional schools, and 2 non-traditional. Either way, they have all gotten the education that they needed and earned.  I know that my son worked harder than I could have ever imagined without being prodded or nagged by me, pretty impressive.

Thanks to the internet, I stayed in touch with him while he was in Florida and we’d chat often about not only school, but our running. We both use the NikePlus system so we were able to keep track of each other and our mileage which served as a  great accountability system that was fun. I would smile every time I’d see a run that he completed knowing that his education at school was balanced out with his commitment to being healthy.  He knew the important role that running played in his studies. Why don’t we teach that in school? Why don’t we start in pre-school educating kids on how much better the brain works when we’re active? Making it a fun proposition, enough about obesity, that’s not sinking in. What about intelligence and performance as well as emotional and physical well-being that is positively affected with exercise? I think every college campus should have a required class that teaches students the science behind being active, how much better off their lives will be if they remain committed to a healthier lifestyle. If you think about it, college sets kids up for a solid future, why would a healthy lifestyle be left out of the equation? Hmmm. I digress.

When I went to Florida for my son’s graduation, I did something that I will forever cherish. Before graduation, we went for a long run.  We talked about everything including  his goals for his future and his gratitude for his education. Sure, you can sit down and chat, but an uninterrupted hour just to talk is invaluable. There is something very special about knowing that the example you’ve set for years, may have actually rubbed off!   The beauty of his activity is knowing that since adopting a love of running, he will have something to keep him healthy and focused for the rest of his life. What’s cool is that Mitch appreciates the opportunity to run and the positive effect it’s had on his life today and will likely have on his future. I think any time a parent sees their child make choices that will positively benefit them, it’s a great moment. Further, what better gift to give your kids than that of healthy choices?

I have no doubt that Mitch will go on to do great things. (Doesn’t every parent think that about their children?)  He’s got his education, he’s got his commitment to taking care of himself and a desire to work hard and make an impact in his field. His field? Web design and development. If you know of anyone that is hiring, I have an amazing candidate with a B.S. in web design and development. 😉  Now I can only hope that when he has a family, he will be a great role model for them. My hunch is yeah.

Congratulations to my son Mitch! Here’s to his happy, healthy future!

Nicki


Blogger Lacks Sensitivity and Filter

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.

Me at 17 years old

Me at 17 years old

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.

Nicki


Making Changes for All the Right Reasons!

By Nicki On August 18, 2010 No Comments

Me and My Grandmother prior to "a-ha" moment. 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,

Nicki


Weight! You’ve Got It All Wrong!

By Nicki On July 31, 2010 2 Comments
I love my garden!

I love my garden!

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!

Nicki

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


Learning about Healthy Eating Never Ends!

By Nicki On May 23, 2010 No Comments
Teri Gentes, A Certified Nutritional Consultant and Recipe Author of Gourmet Natural Foods Nutrition

Teri Gentes, A Certified Nutritional Consultant and Recipe Author of Gourmet Natural Foods Nutrition

As long as I’ve been focused on eating better and moving more, I always believe there’s room for improvement. As I head in to the last year of my 40’s, now more than ever I want to be the best I can and the way to make that happen, is to learn what  things I can improve upon.

When I look back 20 years ago, I too was sucked in to the whole “low-fat, high carb” diet. I read everything that came along on the subject and believed that I knew it all and that my nutrition was set. Little did I know that not only was eating that way not conducive for me feeling great, I was eating a lot of processed foods. You see, many choices that we make that seem healthy, are not always the best choice. But through brilliant marketing and deceptive labeling, it makes it awfully tough to know just what your eating and how it actually affects the way we feel and our overall health.

In the early 90’s it was all about Oat Bran, touted as the new miracle food!  In the late 90’s, The Atkins Diet resurfaced and we had a whole new generation following the Atkins philosophy. Unfortunately, it was rarely about the health, more about the weight loss. Here’s what I mean, whether it’s low-fat, high oat, or low-carb, if you’re eating junk which stays in the parameters of the diet, you may be losing weight, but what are you putting in to your body? And that’s where the lack of education comes in. A good example is 100-calorie packs. It’s basically processed bags of food that people are led to believe are more healthy. The truth is that folks may be getting less calories, but like a diet drink, what they save on the front end they end up making up in the back end, so it’s commonly a wash. I’m not making this up, I see this with my clients all the time.

So, like you, I get frustrated with the information that comes out about nutrition and the confusion that comes a long with it. High Carb? Low Carb? High Protein? Low Protein? Low- Fat? Low Calorie? Fat-Free? Preservative free? And on and on the questions go.

In my search to learn more, I have just started working with a lovely lady, Teri Gentes,  someone you should know. Teri has taken me to a new  level in my quest to understand more about food and what constitutes a good choice vs. a misinformed choice. I love learning as I believe the more I know, the more I can positively grow. There are plenty of things she’s shared with me that many of us know, eat more veggies and fresh fruit, avoid processed, chemical filled foods, etc. But I’m also learning so much that I didn’t know. Although healthy eating can be very, very detailed, ultimately it’s about making choices that can make you stronger, healthier and happier. I’ve always believed there is a direct correlation between food and mood and as I make my way through this educational process, I believe it now more than ever.

I try and do my best with giving straight forward advice in my columns and blogs about healthy eating, and with that are some amazing resources out there that can help explain things in a way that’s easy to understand and implement bit by bit. Like anything, you can’t go and clean out your cabinets and expect that in a day you are going to completely alter your eating and it’s going to stick, it won’t.

Making small changes is the best way to alter and positively change your diet. It can be as basic as adding in a new vegetable each week. Working to move away from boxed foods and focus more on whole, natural state foods. Trust me, when I got in to this business I thought I had healthy eating all figured out. Not even close!  So as I learn, I will share with you. Following are just a few resources for you.  I’d love to know your thoughts about food deception and the confusion when seeking a healthy eating plan that you can stick with for life. After all, that’s what healthy eating is all about saving and enhancing your life!

Here’s to your health!

Nicki

Nicki Anderson’s Single Step Weight Loss Solution

An End to Overeating by Dr. David A. Kessler

DVD – Food, Inc.

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

Jamie Oliver – Food Revolution

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Feeling Light- The Holistic Solution to Permanent Weight Loss and Wellness by Shoshanna Katzman and Wendy Shankin-Cohen w/ Melinda



A Disconnect With Food May Be Cause of Obesity

By Nicki On May 16, 2010 2 Comments
Garden Season is Finally Here!

Garden Season is Finally Here!

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.

In addition to plenty of resources via web, I’ve got a ton of recipes on my website as well as my cookbook, Here’s to Health.

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!

Nicki

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!


Thumbs Down on the Double Down

By Nicki On April 18, 2010 9 Comments

Surprise, surprise as our First Lady does her part to get healthier foods in schools and households, and Jamie Oliver seeks to change the way kids are eating, KFC launches it’s new sandwich, the Double Down. The double down is 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1380 mg. of sodium. Believe it or not the Double Down doesn’t fare the worst. Burger King’s Double Whopper makes the Double Down look healthy. Yep, all this hype about the Double Down, the Double Whopper with cheese, includes a whopping 1061 calories, 68 grams of fat and 1544 mg. of sodium. So in truth, the Double Down is a brilliant marketing scheme but really doesn’t hold up (in terms of fat, sodium and calories) to the Double Cheese Whopper.

I find it interesting that even though the world is on a perpetual diet, foods are introduced that make absolutely no contribution to healthier habits. So what does that mean? It means that it’s really our job to be our censor, to be able to know and understand that the foods we choose to eat are well, the foods we choose to eat.  It’s also important to note that no matter how much information is out there about healthy eating, there is still confusion in certain areas.  My hunch is that we ALL know the Double Down is probably not on the list of healthy options. If you’re really looking to gain control of your health and your weight, fast food should be (ideally) one of the first things to go, next to fried food.

I certainly can’t blame fast-food restaurants (yes, yes, I’d love them to be more responsible) but the truth is, cigarettes are still being sold, diet pills are still being sold, and it’s our choice whether we choose to imbibe or pass them by. We are forced to make decisions about our lifestyle each and every day. The fact that a restaurant comes out with a new sandwich is hardly to blame for where our country’s health is. We are where we are by personal choice as well as mixed information. That’s why I always do my best to give you the straight story. There is no substitute for eating more fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. There is no substitute for exercise when it comes to better health. There is no substitute for taking control of YOUR health and YOUR bodby just saying, “No!”  And if someone mentions a double down, toss out a thumbs down!

Here’s to your health! Nicki



Reaching Your Destination Doesn’t Require Speed

By Nicki On March 23, 2010 14 Comments
Me and my daughter, Allison

Me and my daughter, Allison

My daughter is a freshman at IU. ‘Sigh’ (Still mourning her absence).

She came home this past week (joy) and before I knew it, she packed up and headed back to school. The following morning I received a text from her:

“Mom, got a speeding ticket. UGH!”

That text was followed up by a couple of others, cursing her choice to put the pedal to the metal.  After reassuring her that it wasn’t the end of the world, I reminded her about the importance of staying within the speed limit. This got me thinking about weight loss. I know, a surprise.

How many of you want to hurry-up and lose weight? How many of you have opted for fast and furious weight loss methods only to find yourself back where you started and in some cases, further back than when you started?

You see, my daugther was in a hurry to get back to school, I get it, but at the end of the day, she ended up losing time and getting a ticket, counterproductive.

The truth is, the best and most efficient way to lose weight and keep it off is to take it slow. What’s the rush? Studies show that the folks that take longer to take weight off, are more likely to stick to the healthy habits they created, resulting in more permanent success with weight loss.

So the next time you think about jumping on a fast and easy weight loss plan, take it slow and you’ll be more likely to arrive at just the right time, with the right results!

Here’s to your health!

Nicki

*BE SURE AND PICK UP YOUR APRIL ISSUE OF PREVENTION MAGAZINE, WOMEN’S HEALTH MAGAZINE AND WOMEN’S RUNNING.  CHECK OUT THE KASHI INSERT WITH MY UNIQUE FITNESS TIPS!