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 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 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!
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
By Nicki On February 21, 2010 3 Comments
This past week I met with a client that I have been working with for a couple of months. He came in and shared his disappointment at gaining 7 pounds despite his level of hard work. What do you say to someone who is looking to feel successful through weight loss only? How do you encourage someone to get past “the weight” and focus on all of the other accomplishments that have been made over the 2 months? Education.
When starting to lose weight or embarking on a weight loss program you’ve got to remember some very important things folks, you cannot expect a body that’s been mistreated for years to turn around in weeks, it doesn’t work that way. Further, after years of inactivity and poor nutrition, every one has a different point at which their body finally trusts the positive changes and begins to respond, i.e. metabolic weight loss. In other words, building muscle and improving overall performance takes time. The most important thing you can do is be consistent. If you start exercising like a mad-dog and eating only carrots and celery, sure, you might lose weight right away, but where will you be in 3 or 4 weeks? Back where you started, why? Because who can subsist on carrots and celery and hours of exercise? Very few people.
Look, when you’re looking to lose weight it’s got to be because you want to GET HEALTHY! Remember my friends, weight loss is simply a by-product of changing your lifestyle. People have it backwards, they put all of their eggs in to the weight loss basket when in reality they should be distributing their eggs in the nutrition basket, exercise basket, stress-relief basket and finally weight loss basket. If you put all of your eggs in one basket, you’ll never find the balance or the secret to long-term success.
From a practical perspective, what is the reason most people want to lose weight? Too feel better, right? So consider changing your priorities around and let lifestyle changes take the driver’s seat. You see if you focus on the things that change positively, consistency is more likely to follow. If you’re just looking at the weight loss piece, and it’s not forthcoming (in the unrealistic way many believe it will) you’ll quit and go back to bad habits. Yet bad habits are exactly what you’re trying to get rid of if you really want to lose weight. Are you with me?
So, bottom line, you want to lose weight, start making the changes necessary to make that happen but rather than focus on the numbers on the scale, focus on the everyday improvement you can notice right away. If health isn’t an issue, that go ahead and stop eating for a week, you’ll lose weight. But if your real goal is to feel better and change the quality of your life, there is no argument, lifestyle changes are the most important strategy. Just make them appropriate, realistic and measurable. Keep a journal, celebrate your progress and you may find that all of those lifestyle changes over time have not only greatly improved the quality of your life, you’ve lost some weight too!
By Nicki On February 14, 2010 No Comments
I met with Anthony this week and we talked about his challenges and successes. Like anyone trying to lose weight, Anthony wants desperately for the weight to be off! However, when you’re doing it right, weight does not drop off quickly and changes need to be made for the long term, not just until a wedding, reunion, etc. What I’m talking about here is getting away from the “On a diet” or “Off a diet” mentality.
In my humble opinion, (and you know I have many of them), I really believe that being “on” a diet puts the mind in a very negative place. Being “on” a diet tells the brain, “You must suffer. You can not have anything you want ever again. You need to be hungry all the time and eat food you really don’t enjoy.” Hmmm, I don’t know about you, but with that kind of mental input, there is no way one can possibly beat the weight loss game.
So I told Anthony, “You need to approach this different than you have ever approached weight loss before. How? By looking at any changes that you make as long-term changes, not just something to change until the scale shows the appropriate number. Rather, make changes that you can sustain. Never say never and always know that there are moments where less than healthy choices will pop up. You just have to be prepared. And, if you fall in to eating something that isn’t great, don’t belabor the issue, acknowledge it and know that a healthy lifestyle is making good choices most of the time.” You see if you’re in that “on” or “off” mode and you trip up, the guilt is overwhelming and the negative self-talk goes in to full gear. However if you’re in the healthy living mindset and eat something that’s not on the good-for-you list, you tell yourself, “Back on track tomorrow. Eating this way does not leave me feeling the way I do when I eat well. I look forward to healthy eating tomorrow.”
The healthy living mentality is your best defense against a negative experience as you strive to change unhealthy habits to healthy ones. Try, just for this week (as I encouraged Anthony to do) to think “lifestyle” not diet. To think about the long-term and choices that seem appropriate vs. so painfully out of character for you you’ll never stick with them. Acknowledge the positive changes you make, even if they’re small.
Healthy living is supposed to encourage a healthier you, both mentally and physically. The best way to achieve that is to find your center and avoid the “on” or “off” when it comes to lifestyle change!
Here’s to your success.
By Nicki On February 8, 2010 2 Comments
As I sat watching the Super Bowl yesterday, I witnessed the underdogs persevere and ultimately win. I thought about the parallels between the Super Bowl and weight loss. A stretch? See what you think!
1. Weight Loss is a team effort. You need a strong team around you to support you and keep you motivated and accountable. Without support, the journey is very difficult.
2. If you have a bad play, you acknowledge it and move on. Every one makes mistakes, yes, even Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. So if you have something that isn’t part of your healthy eating plan, acknowledge it and move on. Life is a series of wins and losses.
3. Believe in yourself. Don’t listen to what other naysayers believe, if you believe in your heart you can succeed, you will. It’s the pessimist that often sets the table for failure. If you believe, you can achieve.
4. Play to win. If you start off wondering “Another diet, I wonder if this one will work?” If you make up your mind to succeed, never lose site of that goal. Visualize your success and rock it!
5. Playing to win is hard work. During any weight loss journey, there will be times when you feel like you just can’t go on and it’s hard. Just know that hard work always pays off in the end.
6. Plan, plan, plan. Imagine if either football team went out on the field without a plan, it would be a disaster. Same applies for weight loss, plan out your strategy for success.
7. Have fun! Losing weight is not meant to be a sentence of some sort, rather a journey to discover what makes you your best! Have fun, don’t get so tied up in the “rules” and the “win” that you forget to have fun and even learn along the way.
Congrats to New Orleans Saints and Naperville’s Sean Payton!
By Nicki On December 20, 2009 No Comments
January must be very close, because the push for weight loss products is everywhere. “20 pounds in 20 days!” “Drop 30 pounds with just 5 minutes a day!” “Weight Loss Made Easy, Drop as much as you want in just 30 days!” “We can help you lose that fat belly and cellulite in just 3 minutes a day!” I could go on and on, but you get the gist.
I want to ask a question. How many of you have been to a restaurant with bad service or a store with bad service and swore you’d never return? My hunch is that you’ve stuck to your guns and not returned, why? Because it was a bad experience and you didn’t get your money’s worth, right? That’s what I don’t understand about the success of the dieting industry. Year after year, millions of people diet…again, and the result is the same, quick weight loss, short-term success. Failure is imminent yet people go back year after year expecting something different. Quick weight loss and fad diets continue to sell in the billions of dollars a year, I don’t like it. Quite honestly, the fact that playing to people’s desperation creates the success of the dieting world, well, I like it even less.
Someone asked me the other day about writing a column and offering something new and innovative for weight loss and I had to be honest, “There is nothing new, only the way it’s communicated can be new. Moving more and eating less and eating healthier is the ONLY route to permanent weight loss, There is NOTHING new.”
It’s unfortunate that sometimes that answer isn’t good enough. I don’t care how many new diets are introduced there is NOTHING new and amazing in the world of weight loss. Sure, each year diet company’s may change their packaging or the name of their program to make it sound new and innovative, but no matter how it’s packaged or sold, the result is the same, false promises, real failure.
What can I do to prevent you from being a repeat customer for the diet industry? You KNOW diets don’t work, you KNOW there is no truth to 2o pounds in 20 days (without taking something that puts your health at risk) and there is NO truth to getting a healthy body in just 3 minutes a day, none of it is true.
What is true is regular exercise and healthy nutrition habits are key to weight loss, no more, no less. One has to be willing to make changes to create change. But if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will continue to get what you’ve always gotten. So dare to be different January 1st. You want to make a REAL resolution? Resolve to stop dieting and slowly, gradually, realistically, change your lifestyle. Move more, eat less and opt for healthier choices and that will make weight loss happen once and for all. Nothing new, just the facts.