Sunday, September 27, 2015

Not Losing Weight? Find out why (cont.)

Last week we talked about people who start off on a diet, lose weight and then seem to stop losing.  Why?  I noted that SparkPeople had an interesting article on “8 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight” written by a personal trainer.  We covered 4 of these reasons last week and this week we cover the personal trainer’s other 4 reasons.   
Reasons for Not Losing Weight  based on SparkPeople and good nutrition advice from a registered dietitian.
5.       You are not being consistent –you need consistency to establish good habits.
You start out strong, sticking to your diet and exercise routine.  Then you step on the scale and haven’t lost the weight you wanted and you fall into the trap of going off the diet and skipping the gym.  You say, “What’s the point?”  to justify going off the diet and exercise regimen.  Or you have that one dessert and then say you’ve ruined your diet and stop all the good habits you worked so hard for.  One dessert doesn’t “ruin your diet.”   Missing the gym one day doesn’t “ruin everything”.   Have the occasional dessert, enjoy every bite and then go back to your diet and exercise routine. 
Recommendation:  “Eat right and exercise as consistently as possible and apply both moderation and portion control when it comes to indulging.” 
6.       You are not measuring the right things.  - It isn’t just the scale.
Some people only measure their “success” by the scale.  If you are eating healthier, that is a good for your overall health.  If you are adding exercise into your day, that is also good for your overall health.  I know many people who are fit and eat healthy but haven’t lost the weight they wanted yet.  You also may be losing body fat and gaining muscle tone.  Thus, you can be losing inches, your clothes fit better, you are more toned.  Your body is leaner but the scale may not yet reflect this “healthier you”.  If you are getting toned, losing inches, you are losing body fat and that is the goal.  You want more lean muscle and less body fat.    
Recommendation:  “Don’t rely on (just) the scale to measure your weight loss.”  Are you more toned?  Do your clothes fit better?  Eating healthy and exercising will lead to a healthier you.
7.       You may not need to lose weight but only to get more toned and eat healthier.
Check out your Body Mass Index (BMI) using an online calculator such as the one at CDC - Body Mass Index.  CDC has BMI calculators for Adults and Children and Teens.  If you are a healthy weight then weight loss may not be your goal but getting healthier by exercising and eating healthier should be your focus.  You may want to be more fit to improve your athletic performance or to look more toned and have your clothes fit better.  You may not need to change the weight on the scale but by exercising and eating better, you can change your body composition to less body fat and more lean muscle.  This also can take time and won’t happen overnight or in a week. 
Recommendation – Consistency is the key to a leaner, more trim, healthier you. 
8.        Excuses – underlying issues.
Some people come up with all kinds of reasons why they can’t lose weight, why they can’t exercise, why they can’t eat healthier.  It must be their thyroid even though they have never had their thyroid checked.  Overweight runs in their family so they can’t lose weigh.  Or they look for the easy way out.   Or they want the quick fix by trying the latest diet fad, the latest weight loss pill.  Anything to magically melt the fat away with little effort and no exercise.  Some people do have medical conditions that can make it harder to lose weight.  Others are eating more calories than they burn and don’t’ want to make the changes needed to lose the weight and get healthier.  The way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat healthier, track your calories and add some exercise to your routine.
Recommendation – check with your medical provider for medical issues that could be hindering your weight loss goals.  If there are none, then focus on healthier eating and exercise. 

The bottom line, to lose weight you need to exercise and reduce your calorie intake.  Establishing healthier habits can lead to a healthier you.   

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Not Losing Weight? Find out why.

      Many people start off on a diet, lose weight and then seem to stop losing.  Why?  SparkPeople had an interesting article on “8 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight” written by a personal trainer.  She said it is one of the most common questions she is asked.  She noted that those on a diet may thing they are doing “everything right” but still plateau.  So why are there no changes on the bathroom scale?  This week we’ll review 4 of the reasons and next week continue with the other 4 reasons.  
      Reasons for Not Losing Weight  based on Spark People's 8 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight and good nutrition advice from a registered dietitian.
  1.  You are eating back the calories you burn.
Yes, working out is great but then eating everything in sight when you get home, is not so great for weight loss.  When I first started a spinning class, I would come home and be ever so hungry.   When you work out, you do burn up some extra calories.  That is why it is important when dieting to also exercise.  But the personal trainer says people use working out as an excuse to eat more.  “But a lot of people overestimated how much they burn – and then use the “I exercised today” excuse to later overeat, overdrink (think alcohol) or overindulge.”  Or they didn’t work out at all, overeat, and say they will work out tomorrow and then burn it off.

Recommendation:  “Exercise can help you lose when you’re really using it to burn extra calories, not as a reason to eat more.  

     2. You are relying on exercise alone to do the trick.
To lose a pound of body weight many people focus on just cutting back on calories.  But add in exercise to burn off some of those calories and burn off the fat and you don’t have to cut back so much on food.  But it takes both exercise and cutting back on calories to lose weight.  To lose weight you need to change your diet by cutting out some calories and adding in exercise.  Exercising alone may not lead to weight loss, as the personal trainer says, “you can’t out-train a bad diet”. 

Recommendation:  “The best way to lose weight if to cut back on what you eat and increase your burn through exercise – not one or the other.”

      3Eat healthy – but you may not be eating the healthy diet you think you are.
Many of my students think they are eating a healthy diet.  But when they compare their meals and diet to MyPlate, they are missing fruit, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains in their diet.  If Americans were eating such healthy diets, why the increase in obesity and type 2 diabetes?  An easy way to improve your diet is to make more meals that follow MyPlate – a serving of dairy, 2 fruits/vegetables, a grain – preferably whole grain and lean protein. 

Recommendation:  Go to MyPlate and learn what a healthy meal is.  Plan your meals using MyPlate as a guide to healthier eating.   

      4.  You are doing the wrong kind of exercise.

What is best for weight loss, strength training or aerobics or cardio?  Or is it interval training or Tabata training?  Actually both types of exercise are good for those who want to lose weight and keep It off.  Strength training can build muscle and tone.  You want to lose the fat, not the muscle.  Aerobics or cardio burns the calories.  But as the personal trainer notes, don’t rely just on strength training as you won’t burn the calories needed to drop those pounds.

Recommendation:  The best exercise plan emphasizes cardio for calorie burning but still includes strength training to preserve lean muscle. 

To lose weight you need to exercise and reduce your calorie intake.  Start following a personal trainer’s recommendations to lose weight and keep it off.  
Sources:  8 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight , MyPlate,  Image Source:  MyPlate

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Healthy Habits for a Healthy Life

 How many of us say we are going to get healthier?  We will start going to the gym, we will start eating healthier.  But then it never happens.  The September 2015 issue of the Berkeley Wellness Letter has some suggestions for not only changing habits, but changing them for good.  The article is based on James Prochaska, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island.  Over 30 years ago, he proposed stages of changing our habits.  If you follow these stages, suggestions, you should have better success in changing bad habits to good habits.  Studies have found that changing behavior doesn’t happen overnight but it is a process and we can improve our odds of making changes permanent and a “habit” that lasts.   
    What are the 5 stages?   
  1. Precontemplation – yes, you have to decide to change a habit – to get off the couch, to cut back or eliminate the sugared sodas, to go for a walk every day.  This stage puts your goal into more measurable terms.  You may be overweight but then you need to note that to lose weight you will need to cut back on calories and increase the exercise.  Identify the problem or habit you want to change.  
  2. Contemplation – after you identified the problem plan out what you are going to do to change this bad habit to good habits.  Research how the bad habit like 6 sugared sodas a day may harm your health.  Ask others who have successfully lost weight how they did it.  Ask others who are now exercising regularly what they did to get motivated and start. What are the health benefits if you begin to change a bad habit to good habits?  How many calories could you save if you gave up just one sugared soda a day?  Rather than laying on the couch after dinner, could you go for a 15 minute walk?  
  3. Preparation – preparation doesn’t mean joining a gym and then never going to the gym.  It means setting a specific “course of action” and then coming up with a plan to implement your action steps.  Setting dates is also helpful.  Tell others what your action plan is, tell family, friends when you will be starting this action plan.  On Monday, I will start walking after dinner every night.  
  4. Action – ready, set, ACTION.  Set realistic goals like a 15 minute walk after dinner then recruit your spouse, friend to go with you.  Find an exercise class that you and a friend can do together once a week.  Start small and enjoy the success of changing bad habits like couch sitting to going on a 15 minute walk.
  5.  Maintenance – starting a good habit is one thing, keeping the good habit is another.  Make it a routine.  On Mondays, walk after dinner, On Tuesdays, take the exercise class at the local       fitness center, on Wednesdays walk with friends or co-workers after lunch or after work.  It make takes weeks or months but keep at it until the good, healthy habit has really  replaced the bad habit.  You may end up looking forward to your weekly exercise class, the daily walk, giving up all that added sugar in sugared sodas.  If you slip up, start again.
I do like the Addition/Subtraction rule.  If you subtract something like a bad habit, add something like a good habit.  Giving up the sugared soda, try some seltzer water, some flavored water with no sugar added.  Cutting back on potato chips, then treat yourself to popcorn like Skinny Pop which has only a 100 calories a bag and is whole grain.  Or try a different chip like Sun Chips which are whole grain, or the multigrain chips from Food Should Taste Good.  

Healthy Eating – want ideas on how to eat healthier?  Food Day is October 24.  To honor Food Day, the online cooking school, Rouxbe is offering a FREE 30 day cooking course on healthy cooking.  To sign up go to: Foodday.  

Sources: Changing Habits - for good,  Image source:   Habits

Sunday, September 6, 2015

5 steps to a healthier heart

What 5 things can you do for heart health?  A recent article on 5 Ways to Protect Your Heart Everyday gave some simple steps to follow:  
  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are not only loaded with vitamins, minerals but also fiber and antioxidants.  Focus on color – each color has its own unique antioxidants and health benefits.  
  2. 10,000 steps a day – if you haven’t invested in a pedometer than buy a Fitbit or other pedometer.  About 2,000 steps is a mile so 10,000 is about 5 miles give or take depending on your stride.  If 10,000 is too much to start with, then aim to start where you are whether it is 3,000 or 5,000 a day.  The start adding 500 steps a day for a week or two, then add another 500 steps a day until you can get to 10,000 steps a day.  
  3. Stop smoking and stay away from second hand smoke.  
  4. A handful of nuts – this is one of Dr. Oz’s recommendations and one I tell the students in my classes – such an easy and healthy habit.  Any kinds of nuts are fine – peanuts, cashews, mixed nuts, walnuts.  Mix them up and try for a handful a day.  If you pack a lunch, put a handful of nuts in a baggie and eat them for lunch or for a snack. 
  5. Cut back on fried foods, foods with added sugar and sugary drinks. 
  And remember these numbers for heart health:

Blood Sugar
Blood Pressure
Total Cholesterol
< 120/80
< 200

So this week try at least one of the 5 things.  Add another piece of fruit to your day.  Buy a can or package of nuts – reduced salt would be a good choice.  If you haven’t bought that pedometer yet, buy one this week and for the first week, take a baseline of the number of steps you walk a day.  Then set a goal to increase it until you can get to at least 10,000 steps a day.  How can you cut back on fried foods and foods with added sugar?  Try to keep the added sugar foods out of your meals and save them for desserts. 

Sources:  5 Ways to Protect Your Heart Everyday,  heart   Image source:   Heart