Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

So I keep hearing these commercials on the radio for special pills that will guarantee you lose “up to” 30 pounds in 12 weeks.  2 1/2 pound a week if you take their pill daily.  Just take their pill…it’s guaranteed.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?

Sounds easy don’t it?

Sounds too good to be true, right?


What is easy to miss while being mesmerized by the ad is that as a woman, you need to follow a strict diet of less than 1350 calories per day.

Guess what happens if you eat only 1350 calories per day (aside from being somewhat hungry)…you lose a little over a pound a week!  If you throw in a little exercise, you lose even more!

This is kind of like Mitt Romney saying his economic plan promises 12 million new jobs over the next four years…guess what?  Most independent economists say that 12 million jobs will be added back to the labor force no matter WHO is elected President.

…but I digress.

The bottom line is that smart, healthy weight loss must come at a price, and that price is a little sweat and a lot of discipline.  If you starve yourself in order to lose weight three things will happen:

  1. •You’ll be hungry.
  2. •You’ll slow your metabolism down which means you will burn calories at a progressively slower rate.
  3. •You’ll gain the weight back and more when you go back to eating the portions you ate before because of #2.

So what is one to do if not create a caloric deficit?

Here’s the thing – you DO want to create a deficit.  Although it is more complex than simply calories in vs. calories out, the basic principle holds true.  The key is to create the deficit while not starving oneself and slowing down the metabolism.

How?  There are three keys:

  1. •Proper diet – not a diet in the “I’m on a diet” sense, but rather an approach to food that gives you nourishment while making your body work to digest and absorb its nutrients – unprocessed and unrefined foods, lots of veggies and fruits, plenty of fiber.
  2. •Physical Activity – you don’t have to be a gym rat or a running fool (like me) to boost your metabolism through exercise.  Walking, jogging, biking, playing tag with your kids, dancing with your partner…60 minutes a day of some sort of activity is all it takes.  You can even break it down into 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, etc – get creative.
  3. •Sleep – this is often the ignored part of maintaining a higher metabolism and optimal health.  Believe it or not, 7 – 9 hours of sleep a day is a great way to burn fat.  There’s a lot of science that I won’t get into here, but the bottom line is that getting the required amount of sleep not only promotes fat loss while you are sleeping, but helps you avoid snacking on junkfood in the afternoon when you start to fade.

Don’t waste your money on the magic pills.  Their effect, in my opinion, is more placebo than any magic ingredient that gets your metabolism flying – and those that do?  Be careful about just what those ingredients are doing to your system.  1350 calories a day isn’t much. 1200 calories is the minimal amount of calories a bed-ridden woman needs simply to survive.  You get the picture?

Eat well, move 60 minutes a day and get some sleep.  Try it for a few weeks and see what happens.

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On Friday night I watched a back to school episode of 20/20. One of the stories was about the reaction students are having to the new nutritional guidelines for public school lunches. The new guidelines require at least a cup of vegetables and a cup of fruit with every meal, a limitation on carbs and proteins, with the meals making up approximating 850 calories. Gone are the mashed potatoes and the big, white roll. Needless to say, student reaction has been somewhat negative, encapsulated here in a music video put together by a teacher and some of her students in the video “We Are Hungry.”

That a teacher helped these students make this silly video doesn’t bother me, however what she said in her interview with 20/20 did. She argued that students were not getting enough carbohydrates at lunch to make it through to the end of the day. I understand that to a population that has grown up on refined flour and sugar and potato products that the concept of getting one’s carbs from fruit and vegetables and whole grains may not be initially appealing, but to say that kids need their potato and sugar products is irresponsible. The energy they get from those low-quality carbs may get them through the next period, but it also leads to a crash not long thereafter, feeding a vicious cycle of even more bad calories.

Look, change is not easy, I get that. If it were, everyone would have the exact body that they wanted and the fitness industry would be out of business. But change IS hard – that’s why it is so satisfying when one reaches his or her goal.

I get why the students would prefer the packaged crap. Hey, I’m guilty of consuming more often than I would care to admit, but good habits have to start somewhere. Do I believe in the government controlling what we can and can’t eat? No. But at the public school level, educating about healthful eating is just as, if not more important than learning World History or Calculus or Shakespeare.

Public schools are in place to prepare our children for the real world, and how we fuel ourselves has a big impact on the economy and health of our nation.

Simple,  Life.  Skills.  Simple life skills that we as a Nation seem to have lost somewhere between 1950 and now.

Some might argue that we don’t need anybody telling us what or how to eat. How’s that working for us so far? We are an obese nation that can’t seem to grasp the reality of weight related disease. In 2030 Mississippi is going to have a 60% obesity rate. Colorado will be our healthiest State with a 45% obesity rate. Despite knowing what they are doing to themselves, the majority doesn’t seem to care or have simply given up.  That attitude spreads to our kids and the cycle not only continues, but, forgive the pun, feeds on itself.

But there was one line on Friday’s show that really caught my attention. The reporter said that as he moved down the grades to the younger students, the complaints became less frequent; that the habits of the students trended healthier the younger he went. While older students would fill their lockers with potato chips and fruit loops to snack on because they wouldn’t eat the lunch they wanted, the younger students simply went back for seconds at lunch.

This, to me, is encouraging for the future and should be a clarion call for all parents. Habits start from the moment our kids come into the world, and the older our kids get, the harder it is to break the bad ones.

Sometimes it’s not as simple as making the decision to make healthier choices. There are food deserts even in this country – places where families do not have access to fresh vegetables and fruits, whether because they are not available or too expensive. That is where the government may want to concentrate some of their energy.

Are the new standards perfect? No.  There is definitely some tweaking to be done, but that doesn’t mean we should toss out the idea of educating our children about healthful eating and its benefits.

Habits are called habits because, well, they’re habits. But habits can be broken. Change is hard, but it can be done. Whether for yourself or for your children, it’s time for a change.

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