Tag Archives: diet

Getting back on (or staying on) track

How are your New Year’s health resolutions (or word-solutions) coming along? Are you still on track, or did you fall prey to “Fall of the Bandwagon Thursday” and “Fat Friday” (mentioned in an earlier post)? If you aren’t where you’d like to be, never fear! Here are some tips to help you get back on track. If you you are still cruising along, great job! You can still use these tips as motivators to keep doing what you are doing.

1) Realize change doesn’t happen overnight. You aren’t going to magically not want chocolate, sugar, coffee, or whatever it is you are trying to avoid more frequently. You won’t lose 15 pounds in a month (if you did, go see a doctor because that isn’t healthy). You won’t love getting up early to exercise for the first little while (or ever). Change takes time. Hopefully, you set goals for 2017, meaning you have ALL YEAR to accomplish them. Cut yourself some slack.

2) Focus on the positive little steps you make rather than focusing on any missteps. Even if your progress is two steps forward, one step back, you are STILL getting one step forward in the net. I also like to think of “good” and “bad” choices as two separate accounts rather than one. That way, a “bad” choice doesn’t negate any good. It just fills up the wrong bank. I still have my “good” choices accumulating.

3) Know when to quit. Did you make a goal to exercise and you hate every minute of it and every day is a struggle? Maybe that goal or that exercise program isn’t right for you right now. Be ok to give up on that AND pick a new goal or routine. (That AND is very important). Not every goal is right for every person at every time. Learn about yourself and figure out what is right for you right now. For example, I used to run quite a bit. I had hoped to start running again. But I never can seem to get myself out of bed for a run. A workout video is a struggle, but manageable. So, right now, running isn’t for me. It was in the past, and it may be in the future.

4) Find intrinsic rewards. Exercise (generally) makes you feel more energtic and happier. Eating healthy food (generally) makes us have a more positive outlook. Look for these rewards in your choices rather than just the numbers on the scale, the distances/weight/time improvements, etc.

Hope these tips help you no matter where you are on the goal track. Happy health!

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Obesity, empathy, and body image thoughts

Occasionally, in all the media clutter we see and hear each day, a clear, concise message appears to you. That happened to me today. I listened to the most recent post on This American Life entitled “Tell Me I’m Fat”. It was riveting, thought provoking, and entertaining. Everything a great podcast episode should be. You should really listen to it here.

Also today, an article popped up on my Facebook feed about how dietitians need to have empathy and how that can be better “taught” in dietetics training programs. I totally agree with this being a problem. While I had very good education and training as a dietitian, the most “empathy” that ever came into my lessons was teaching you how to keep a straight face while taking down a diet history. As in, when a client/patient tells you that he/she ate an entire cake or 14 tortillas in a day, you smile and say, “ok”. That was a good skill, believe you me. And I’m not criticizing my professors because empathy isn’t something you can really “teach”. It has to be developed with time and experience.

Together, those have prompted me to write a few very open, honest thoughts here.

1) I have never in my life been obese. I have never had to struggle with so many of the daily trials that face obese people. The stories in the podcast highlight many of these: finding clothes, being comfortable eating out, criticism from complete strangers, worrying about breaking a chair, etc. So I can try to be empathetic and imagine how that feels, but I haven’t had that experience.

2) However, I have struggled with my weight. Multiple times in my rather short adult life, so I do have some measure of empathy about weight and body image and those struggles.

When I graduated from college, I didn’t like how I felt or looked or what the scale said. I spent an entire summer exercising and trying to cut back on junk food. The result was maybe 5 pounds of weight loss, which was incredibly disheartening. Luckily for me, I then started grad school. The stress and busy schedule helped me almost unconsciously shed the last 10 pounds I needed/wanted. And then cancer and endocrine instability helped me drop 10 more. I was back to what I weighed in middle school. I’ll admit, I liked how looked and wanted to keep it that way, even if was a bit on the light side of healthy.

Then school ended. Life changed. Thankfully, for a couple years, I was able to mostly maintain my weight.

Then babies happened. My first pregnancy, I gained a bit too much weight, but it seemed to just melt off after I had my baby. One month post-partum, thanks to breastfeeding and some postpartum depression inhibiting my eating, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight and feeling really good. Fast forward about 4 months, and things weren’t so easy. But with some frequent exercise, I was able to stay in a good place for me.

Fast forward now to pregnancy number two. I gained more weight. I couldn’t stop gaining weight. When I would see how much the scale went up at a doctor’s visit, I’d feel sad and go home and eat a cookie. Smart, right? I was only about 5 pounds over the maximum recommended weight gain, but I had started pregnancy about 5 pounds up from my usual desired weight, too. This time, the weight did not melt off after I had the baby. 6 weeks out, my 2 year old was pointing to my tummy and asking about baby sister. My baby is almost 11 months old now, and I’m still not where I’d like to be.

Recently, I’ve challenged myself to nine weeks of exercise and limiting treats to try and feel better about myself for a family cruise. So far, I’ve kept to my plan (gloriously pictured below). But I’ll admit, I don’t think I’ve lost a single pound. And I still crave chocolate EVERY SINGLE DAY.

My current exercise and diet challenge

That is more about my life and weight history than maybe you wanted to know. But I hope it shows that I can have some empathy about weight, diet, eating struggles, etc.

3) While I understand it is a very complicated, multi-faceted issue, I am a big proponent (on face value) of the movement of accepting one’s weight, even if you are fat (as discussed in the podcast). I have posted multiple times on this site about research showing that healthy choices at any weight are beneficial, how the number on a scale is just a number, and so much more. AND IT IS STILL TRUE! Might you be better off if you hadn’t gained 30 (or 50 or 100) extra pounds in the first place? Yes. But can you go back and change that? No. What you can change is the future – not gaining more weight, maybe losing some weight, maybe just making healthier lifestyle choices.

In my own life, I have COMPLETELY found this to be true. When I was down to my middle school weight, I didn’t always feel great. Now that I’m up 15 pounds, but exercising six days a week and controlling my eating more, I do feel better. I stared down a plate of brownies all afternoon/evening one day last week and didn’t eat a single one. The mental boost it gave me to feel like I was in control of myself was immensely more beneficial than any endorphin rush from some sugar and chocolate.

No one sets out to become overweight or obese. I don’t think anyone would intentionally choose that life path for themselves, fully knowing the pain, discrimination, health issues and other struggles associated with it. But they can choose to change their future course. And we can choose to not contribute to the discrimination and to help people make better choices in their future.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the podcast, obesity, obesity discrimination, and empathy in the comments!

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Your stomach is not your brain

I found this article on mindful eating from the Washington Post very interesting. For those who don’t know, mindful eating is simply the “diet” approach that you can lose or maintain weight by focusing in on what you are eating, without necessarily changing your diet. By focusing, you keep better track of how much you have eaten. you can also account for meal splurges, etc. It has been shown to be effective for many people.

I hope you read the article, but here were some of my highlights from it.

– The part about the amnesic patients really reminds me of life with my toddler right now. She loves to come up to me one hour after eating four bowls of cereal for breakfast and claim to be hungry. Hmm…

– I totally agree with the part about social cues. I always look around to see if other people are taking seconds at a social function before I take seconds myself. I had a very thin roommate once, and I felt compelled to eat salad around her.

– My favorite part was making sure you are eating really delicious food. At a summer camp once, someone told me he hated the french fries served at the cafeteria. I then asked him why I always saw him get seconds. He said it was because they were really bad fries, so he had to eat a lot to satisfy his craving for fries. I don’t think it works for everyone all the time. I know sometimes, I am drawn to eat more just because it was so yummy. But I have found other times that I can stop myself if I stop and really enjoy one awesome portion of whatever food it is.

What are your thoughts? Does mindful eating work for you? What social cues have you noticed change your intake? Do you eat less if the food is extra delicious? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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New Year, New Goals, New Weight?

Over the last two years, I’ve waxed long about not setting goals about weight (here and here among many others). Focus on changes for health. If your making healthier choices, you will often lose weight and be able to sustain that weight loss. And even if you don’t lose weight, your health will have improved.

However, I recognize that may not be enough for many of us. This year, I’m included. I admit to having some weight loss on my New Year’s resolutions, thanks to some residual baby weight. I am sticking to my previous statements of not JUST having goals of weight loss. I have several other goals for exercise and diet to help me achieve my weight loss.

I read an interesting article with a paradigm shifting idea on weight monitoring. For years, health professionals have recommended only monitoring weight once a week at most. However, recent studies are showing that daily weight monitoring could be beneficial for weight loss.

The article points out that daily weights can help you see more immediate effects of good or bad choices, maybe helping you stick to diet changes more closely. When you cut out late night snacking and see your weight change quickly, you are motivated to keep that up. If you splurge going out one day and you see your weight spike the next day or two, you become more focused on healthy changes again.

I don’t think it is for everyone, but it is something worth considering. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Cheeseburgers for health?

I promise I am not affiliated with Freakonomics in any way. But they had another podcast recently about health and nutrition that I found very interesting. It was the antithesis of Super Size Me and fits within my philosophy pretty well, too.

The podcast, titled “The Cheeseburger Diet”, follows the story of a women who was determined to find the best cheeseburger in Louisville, Kentucky. She determined to eat two cheeseburgers for a week for an entire year. Since that logically raises some health concerns, she monitored her weight throughout the year as well as testing her cholesterol before and after. After a year, her weight was exactly the same. Her total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol had increased but not to concerning levels. Her HDL (“good”) cholesterol had actually increased to a better level. Surprising, yes?

Not really, when she further examined her life during that year. Since she new that she was going to be eating cheeseburgers regularly, she focused on healthier items the rest of the week. She also exercised more to help offset any effects of the cheeseburger. She even said once the experiment was over, she ate less healthy because she wasn’t monitoring her “junk” intake as much.

While I don’t recommend eating fast food twice a week every week for a healthy life, I think her experiment highlights something important. You don’t have to never eat junk food, fast food, or the food you love. The trick is to eat it sparingly, and be healthier the rest of the time to compensate for it.

What does that look like in real life? Here are a couple other examples, a few which may be helpful as we continue with the busy holiday eating season and as you are considering your New Year’s resolutions.

– Once a week, we eat breakfast for dinner. Often, that means we have less vegetables for dinner than we normally would. On that day, I focus on eating extra vegetables for lunch to make sure I get enough in for the day.

– I’ve known several friends who limit themselves to treats only one day per week. If they cheat, they have to pay money to a “fund” that goes to any participants who don’t cheat.

I hope you have a wonderful, delicious holiday season filled with moderation as needed but enjoyment of your favorite Christmas treats!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Clean Eating

Clean eating seems to be buzzing around social media lately.  Is it just a new diet craze or an eating plan you should follow?  Here’s what I could find and my opinion.

The basic idea of eating clean is what it sounds like.  You focus on unprocessed, whole, natural foods.  The diet emphasizes getting a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates at each meal.  Getting enough protein early in the day is emphasized.  Eating several smaller meals throughout the day is recommended.   Avoid excess fat, salt, and sugar.  “Clean” sugars are honey and maple syrup.  Avoid drinking calories, but focus on water.  Exercise is also encouraged.

Overall, this seems more like a lifestyle than a diet.  I agree with most of the basic principles.  Avoiding “processed” foods is generally beneficial (although that is a fairly ambiguous term, read more here).  Most of us don’t get enough protein in the morning, so that is a great idea.  Avoiding high calorie drinks and increasing your physical activity are also great ideas.

I don’t agree that everyone needs to eat several small meals throughout the day.  For many people, this eating plan can be beneficial.  But for some, they will just eat more.  it takes planning and thought to make sure you are not consuming more calories in the day when you eat more meals.  I don’t think it is a generally bad idea, but it isn’t the solution for everyone.

I also dislike calling honey and maple syrup as superior to any other form of sugar.  They are all sugar and add calories.  You should use any of them in moderation.

For once, I can actually recommend a diet I’m reviewing!  Happy eating everyone!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

(Information from Cooking Light)

 

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Positive Nutrition

My husband recently told me about how a popular new verb is “to adult”. Our family is undergoing a lot of changes in the next few months, and I will admit to sometimes wondering when an adult will step in and tell me what to do. Then I remember I am the adult. Scary. I guess I always imagined as an adult I would have all the answers. I would know the do’s and don’ts. When I am “adulting”, I find myself saying “no”to my toddler a lot, which isn’t fun.

Turns out, saying “no” is also not very effective when it comes to teaching people about nutrition. A recent study looked at the combined data from 43 previous studies on nutrition messaging. The combined results suggest that negative nutrition messages don’t work well in changing behaviors but positive messages do.

How do you apply this? If you are talking to others about nutrition, focus more on the good things they are eating than the bad. For example, rather than criticize your spouse for eating too many hamburgers, praise them for choosing a salad or a side of vegetables. For self-talk, focus on the good things you are doing in your diet rather than harping on yourself for any side steps.

Being positive works! Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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