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cant_say_that

There are some words that, in my humble opinion, should rarely, if ever, be used – the list is relatively short.  You can probably come up with them all on your own – the “n” word, the “r” word, the “c” word…I’m sure there are a few others, but suffice it to say, that these words are frowned upon because as a society we have realized that they are hurtful in more ways than just hurt feelings.

It seems that there are some in the health industry who would like to take a few more words away from your vocabulary – the most prevalent one being “moderation”.  Why do they want to take this word away from you?  Simply put, because it’s a crutch; an excuse for poor choices; it means different things to different people; and my personal favorite people are too dumb to know what moderation really means.

Andy Bellatti, a register dietician, recently wrote on the Huffington Post that “Everything in moderation,” is another way of unnecessarily and inaccurately equalizing all foods. It operates on the inane and utterly insane notion that peaches, Pop-Tarts, muffins, soda, lentils and tomatoes should all be approached the same way.

Um…really?

He goes on to imply that you, the public, are not intelligent enough to understand that three cups of mixed greens as part of a salad are not the same thing as three cups of chocolate pudding.

And that you are too clueless to realize a large Dunkin’ Donuts Mountain Dew Coolatta should not be consumed with the same frequency as unsweetened green tea.

And that you have no idea that eating a pint of blueberries in one sitting is very different from eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs.

Hmmm…is that you?

Personally, I think most people actually do understand that.

Do you really think that three cups of mixed greens is the same as three cups of chocolate pudding?  If I were to say to you that you’re okay to eat chocolate pudding occasionally, as long as it’s in moderation, would you interpret that as “I can eat 3 cups of chocolate pudding every single day!”?

Do you, as many of these health experts believe you do, believe that drinking a 32 oz soda slushy is the same as drinking unsweetened green tea?

In your mind is eating a pint of blueberries the same as eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Now, Bellatti does have a point.  Ask 20 people what moderation means and you will probably get 20 different answers, but you can bet next week’s paycheck that the majority (and to be specific I’ll say 80%) of the answers will be lumped together like a giant bell curve, varying only minutely.

Perhaps Bellatti and those of his ilk are former food addicts in a past life and feel they must go to extreme measures to keep their past behaviors under control.  You know what?  That’s not fair, I don’t know him at all, but perhaps Bellatti and his followers simply need to do a better job of reminding themselves what “moderation” actually means and relearn that a moderate amount of food A is not is not going to be the same as a moderate amount of food B…

Here’s a little help:

mod·er·a·tion
ˌmädəˈrāSHən/
noun
noun: moderation
1.  the avoidance of excess or extremes, esp. in one’s behavior or political opinions.

synonyms: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-command, self-discipline, temperance

Notice the synonyms?

I’m not a dietician.  I don’t even play one on TV, in part, well, because I’m not on TV, but I’m pretty sure that someone who has worked hard for their RD status can work with individual clients and help those who want to know what a moderate amount of chocolate pudding would be…it’s certainly going to be a significantly less amount, in both volume and frequency, than a moderate amount of salad greens.

…but of course, most of us already knew that.

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Tomorrow is the last day of January, the first month of 2013. Some have managed to stick to their Healthful New Year’s Resolutions while others have, well, to put it nicely, fallen off the wagon.

Here’s the cool thing – just like the change from December 31st to January 1st, tomorrow night at midnight the calendar turns once again. For those who want a “clean” beginning, February 1st offers the same “magic” that January 1st does, giving you a second chance to start again, this time hopefully learning from any mistakes you may have made over the last month.

So if you have fallen, you CAN get up, dust yourself off and try, try again.  If you stumbled and stopped running, going to the gym, eating clean, meditating daily, whatever your healthful resolution was, think about it today and tomorrow; ask yourself where you fell short and on February 1st, wake up and take back what is rightfully yours.

And if you’ve been strong and steady in your resolution, then take tomorrow to pat yourself on the back and then resolve to do it again for another month!

DO IT!

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Don't worry!  You can catch the next one!

Don’t worry! You can catch the next one!

Did you miss the train?

Did you get to the station platform just to see the train pulling out?

***

I’ve run across a few people recently who, despite it only being the third week of the New Year, feel they missed their chance to embrace a New Year’s Resolution; that they missed their opportunity to change their habits from bad to good.

Well, guess what people!  The “change my life for the better” train leaves every day, every hour, every minute, every second!  So if you’ve missed it, it’s not too late to hop on board because the next one is leaving now, and now, and now – and due to a strange quirk of quantum physics and the universal magic of platform 9 3/4, once you hop on the train, you’re on the SAME train as the people who hopped on on January 1st!

So don’t delay – do something…today!  Substitute an apple for the cookies, some carrots and hummus for the potato chips, a walk with the dog for the post-dinner TV, the stair for the elevator – every little bit counts.

All aboard!!!

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It’s that time of year again – New Year’s Eve.  It’s when everyone is coming down the homestretch of the Holiday Season – a time filled with plenty of food and drink, one last party and, for many, a lot of weight gain.  It’s also a time when people start to make resolution proclamations.

“I’m getting in shape this year!”

“I’m losing weight this year!”

“I’m getting into that size “fill in the blank” this year!”

And the masses then join a gym or buy some running shoes or “go on a diet”, all of which lasts a week, maybe three, and then it’s back to the same old same old.  By the time April or May rolls around, shoulders are shrugged and thoughts turn to “maybe next year.”

So what’s the problem?  And what, more importantly is the solution?  The problem is simpler than you might think.  The problem is not that people lack motivation, it’s that they lack education and guidance.

Saying

“I’m getting in shape this year!”

“I’m losing weight this year!”

or even

 “I’m getting into that size “fill in the blank” this year!”

doesn’t give you a well-defined goal, not even the more specific third one, because all of these goals are unspecific on how you want to get there.

The question anyone who is making a fitness New Year’s Resolution should be asking themselves really is, “what is my goal?  what is it that I truly want to achieve in terms of fitness/weight loss?”

“I want to get in shape” can mean so many things – what kind of shape?  at what cost?  The same can be said about “losing weight”.  There are all kinds of ways to lose weight, some are long-lasting healthful methods, some are…well, not.  Both can get one to a goal of losing weight and/or getting “in shape”; one can get you there rapidly, the other can get you there and keep you there indefinitely.

Once you’ve defined what it is you are actually trying to achieve, the next question becomes are you willing to change.  If you are trying to alter your physical make up for the better, undoubtedly, you will need to change some habits, and change can be hard.

That’s where it all falls apart every year for the majority of people.  An unfortunate result of our on-demand society is that we have become more and more a people who demand results immediately.  We then assume that if we don’t get the results we want immediately, that whatever we are trying must not work or must not work for us.

We start to make excuses –

oh, I’m just not shaped like that. 

oh, I’m big-boned. 

oh, I tried that and it just doesn’t work for me.

oh, it was uncomfortable.

Really?

Well, to be honest, for a small percentage of the population, that is true, HOWEVER, the overwhelming majority of people who use these excuses are simply unwilling to put in the time to change and they think, incorrectly, the excuses will make them feel better.  Now, before you jump on me for calling people lazy, please go back and note I wrote unwilling, not lazy.  Change takes sacrifice and sometimes people are unwilling to make certain sacrifices to achieve change – and that’s okay.  BUT, you have to realize that a choice has been made not to change.  Owning this choice instead of making excuses goes a long way toward inner peace and happiness.  If you can’t commit to change, then enjoy where you are and embrace it.  Mental health and inner peace is just as important as physical health/fitness.

Here’s the bottom line – hard work pays off; consistency pays off; a healthful diet pays off.  You put those three things together and your results are guaranteed.  For some, those results begin to appear on the scale and in the mirror within a week; for others, the visible changes don’t appear for a month or two, but something to realize is that the moment you make a change for the better, good things are happening inside you…immediately.

So is this the year?  Where to start?

The first thing I tell people is to start tracking what they are consuming.
You would be amazed just how much you actually consume throughout the day without thinking about it.  The mere action of tracking, truly committing to tracking you intake, will make you think twice about the variety of snacks that may cross your lips.

There are quite a few food tracking apps, but the two I found easiest to use are:

My Fitness Pal:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

and Lose It!

http://www.loseit.com/

The thing I like about their apps over others is that they are user-friendly, allow you to enter recipes and create meals, and have access to bar code scanning for easy input.  The apps also allows you to set weight loss goals over a period of time.  The apps though should be used as a guideline, not treated as gospel.  Once a week it’s a good idea to eat whatever the mouth and stomach desire.  One can’t live in a perpetual state of denial (meaning denying yourself “goodies and treats” – a topic for another post) without eventually feeling bitter.  The 90/10 rule works pretty well for most – for every 9 healthful meals, eat & drink something ridiculous!

The second thing I tell people is that they must perform regular physical activity.
This can come in many forms.  I have always found running to be the most affective, particularly for achieving physical fitness while pursuing weight loss, but physical activity can include swimming, biking, taking the stairs instead of taking an elevator, walking, even enjoying the company of your spouse or significant other (I know people get squeamish talking about sex, but it should be noted that a 150 lb person having sex for 15 minutes burns almost 75 calories – that’s nearly 300 calories per hour or the equivalent of a brisk walk or a 10 mph bike ride, but more fun).  The point is, there are many ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life.

For those short on time, I did a little experiment this Holiday season.  Some of you may have heard of Tabata – it’s a method of exercise where you do a full body exercise for 20 seconds at 100% followed by 10 seconds of rest.  You repeat this cycle 7 more time, completing the exercise in 4 minutes.  It is intense and if you do it right, you pretty much want to throw up at the end of it.  It is effective, but it is not fun.  So doing a little research I came across HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  It’s actually been around a while, but I was so into my running I had not really checked it out.  The concept is to perform high intensity full body actions for a short interval, followed by a shorter interval of rest – it is similar to Tabata but not quite as intense.  Right before Thanksgiving, I decided to see if this kind of quick hit training could make a difference.  I chose to use the burpee as my full body movement of choice.  If you don’t know what a burpee is, click —>>>HERE<<<—.

I did five sets of 28 burpees with one minute of rest between sets.  Within each set I would do a 7-7-7-7  routine to mix up different kinds of burpee variations.  For those counting, that’s 140 burpees.  I was able to complete the routine in less than 15 minutes.  I did this 3 times a week and I purposely did not run during that stretch except on Thanksgiving (had to do a Turkey Trot – 3.1 miles) and on my birthday (ran 4.3 miles for 43 years).  That’s a total of 7.4 miles from November 22 to December 31 – essentially a non-factor.  So what were the results?  Despite eating my share of holiday food, less than 45 minutes of work a week allowed me to actually drop 4 pounds and lose a small percentage of body fat.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens when I bring running back into my routine tomorrow.

The third thing I tell people is get some proper sleep.
Sleep is when the body resets itself.  It’s when it heals.  A solid 6 – 9 hours of sleep is absolutely necessary for achieving good health.

Finally, I tell people to stick with it.
It’s hard when you don’t see immediate results.  I get that.  What I try to remind people is that change IS happening.  Slow change is more permanent, because your body and your mind are getting into habits that will stick.  Stay the course, believe in the program and you WILL be rewarded.

So is this your year?  Do you have a specific goal?  If you really want to change, make it a priority and stick with it until the end of March.  This is a trick of sorts though, because if you DO stick with a regular routine until the end of March, you won’t stop because the routine will have taken over.

Good luck with your 2013 health and fitness goals!

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“…over the next two decades, 13 states could have [obesity] rates above 60 percent and 39 states could have rates above 50 percent. Mississippi is on pace to have the highest obesity rate at 66.7 percent…”
-September 18, 2012|By Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune reporter

I posted the article this quote is from yesterday on my Facebook page. I said something along the lines that I found these numbers to be incredible, as in unbelievable, as in it simply isn’t possible. Yet there they were. We are on track to having a quarter of our States with a large majority of their population obese, not just overweight mind you, obese; and nearly 80% of our States with a majority of their population obese. Two-thirds of the population of Mississippi on their way to a twilight riddled with preventable disease.  The most frightening part? Colorado would come in as the most fit State in the Nation…with a 45% obesity rate. FORTY-FIVE PERCENT!!!

Despite what appears to be heightened awareness, the vast majority continue to live in denial…

This is insane!

In response to this flabbergasting news, I hear a lot of people talk about government mandates – having the government take over what we eat or drink a la Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to rid New York City of over-sized sugary drinks. Part of me wants to jump on that bandwagon. If people aren’t smart enough to take care of themselves, well then someone has to take care of them, right?

Wrong.

Although the government should take on some role, maybe from an educational position, or, a bit more radically, making healthy choices available in areas of low access, no amount of government intervention will correct the problem until we, the people, decide we want to make a change.

If there is one thing I have learned over the last few years of being asked for and then giving advice for healthy change, it’s that until a person is ready and willing to change, it ain’t gonna happen.  Too many people want instant change; transformation in a bottle; abs and buns of steel in a pill.  It takes work – not just at the gym, but in the choices of the fuel we choose, and if we ain’t ready and willing, change ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we are shortening our lives, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you we’re increasing our cost of health care, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we are killing our sex drive, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might not be able to stand at our child’s graduation, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might not be able to dance at our daughter’s or son’s wedding, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might get diabetes or cancer or suffer from heart disease, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that due to our obesity we could lose a foot or a leg, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I could tell you that we are setting OUR children up to follow in our footsteps…

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…does that at least stop you for a moment? Does that make you think, maybe, just maybe, this report doesn’t have to be true? That we don’t have to condemn our children to a life of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and amputations? Is that what we want to leave our children? Is that what we want to be our legacy?

I know I don’t.

The habits our children pick up from birth to 18 come primarily from us, and once those habits are programmed into their brains, they are very, very difficult to break. Does that mean there’s no hope for a 30 year old woman with a lifetime of bad habits?

Heavens no!

But it is way more difficult for her than if she had been brought up with good habits all her life.

Change is hard, but it’s easier for our kids – and once those good habits are learned, the foundation of healthful living is set.

Do you know where it starts?

It starts with us. Yes, the government can help set some standards; they can do what they have to do to make healthier choices available to us; they can help educate the population about healthful eating; but in the end, it comes down to you and me.

Yes…us.

Just like every vote counts in an election, what WE choose to do over the next 20 years, 10 years, 5 years, 12 months, 6 months, 4 weeks, 7 days, 24 hours, 60 minutes, 60 seconds, can make a difference.

Nothing sets a better example for our children than our own behavior.

Nothing, NOTHING, convinces a company to change their ways better than our wallet.

Are you ready and willing?

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To get from here:

To here:

You must start by changing what goes here:

It may not be easy.  In fact, it may take a lot of work, but in the end, it will be well worth it.   Exercise is key, but what you fuel up with is a good 80% of the equation!  Don’t let the limitations that others would put on you stop you from becoming the Superwoman (or Superman) you know you can be.

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So the latest uproar I’ve heard today involves this:

Yeah…this is real.

Yup, that’s right, THAT is an automated mashed potatoes & gravy dispenser that can be found in 7-Elevens around the world (for whatever reason they are particularly popular in Singapore).

Here’s what it looks like in action:

As you know, I am a huge proponent of living a healthful lifestyle – I believe in daily exercise, eating right and getting plenty of sleep.  Those three things are the legs of the stool that I believe you can place your goals for a happy life upon.  You would expect that I would find this mashed potato dispenser to be an abomination, a crime against humanity waiting to happen.  Many of the 7-Elevens that offer this product, bundle it with a soda that is bigger than your head, all for the low, low price of about $2.  After your tub of instant mashed potatoes & gravy and your barrel of colored sugar water,  I am sure you will have taken in the recommended intake of sodium and sugar to last you a week.

If this comes to America, the fat will simply get fatter…and fatter…and fatter.

I should be outraged.

I should be angry.

I should be writing to my Congressman.

But you know what?

I say bring ’em. Bring ’em here by the thousands.   Put them in every single 7-Eleven in this country.  Place them in a prominent place in the store so that those who “need” their mashed potatoes and big gulp don’t have to walk as far or burn any more precious calories.  I say decorate them with flashing lights and even give it out for free for the first month to get people hooked on the sodium/sugar delivery package.  Hell, even offer curbside service so that people don’t have to actually exert themselves to get this over-sized package of empty calories.

Why do I want this?

Because I believe in Natural Selection.  Do you?

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