Tag Archives: weight

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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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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Lose weight without eating less?

Is it possible you could weight less while eating the same amount of calories?  Some researchers think it is possible by shifting the composition of your diet.

The researchers compared diets and BMIs from several countries around the world.  They found that Greeks, Japanese, and French people could eat the same number of calories as Americans and have a lower BMI.  Why?  The researchers suggest it is due to the fact that all of these countries have a more plant-based diet.

I really appreciate this research, because it highlights my philosophy again.  Small changes can have a big impact on your overall health and life.  Even without eating less!

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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Pregnancy and post-pregnancy weight

The day I went to the hospital to have my daughter.  Not a moment for skinny thoughts.

The day I went to the hospital to have my daughter. Not a moment for skinny thoughts.

In the last few months, at least 10 people I know have announced a new pregnancy. My social media is crammed with their announcements, ultrasounds, and puking reports. I also recently read a somewhat disturbing statistic. In a recent study, 75% of women followed were heavier one year after giving birth than before their pregnancy. The women studied gained an average of 32 pounds while pregnant, which is within the range of recommended weight gain for normal weight women. With this in mind, here are a few pointers on pregnancy weight gain and losing that weight once baby arrives.

-Embrace a healthy amount of weight gain. If you begin pregnancy at a normal weight, 25-35 pounds is considered a healthy amount of weight to gain. If you are overweight, aim for 15-25 pounds. But remember: the more you gain, the more you will have to lose postpartum.

-You are eating for two, but one of you has a pretty small appetite. Even during the third trimester, you only need an extra 300 or so calories a day. Adding a couple healthy snacks during the day will easily meet those needs.

-Breastfeed! Breastfeeding mothers may need up to 500 extra calories a day, which is more than during pregnancy. However, don’t use this as an excuse to overeat. Maintaining healthy snacks from pregnancy will keep up your intake while still managing a slight deficit to help with weight loss.

-Exercise. Exercising while pregnant can help prevent excess weight gain. Exercising after baby can help you shed pounds.

-Be patient. I have heard many mothers say “9 months on, 9 months off.” Even if you only gain 25 pounds with a healthy pregnancy, you will likely give birth to a 7-10 pound baby. That is 15+ pounds of other tissues that will take time to adjust back. Also realize your calorie needs may change as baby grows and your breastfeeding changes.

On a personal note, I gained close to 35 pounds with my pregnancy. My weight gain was on track for the first 7-8 months, but I kind of overdid it in the end. I was fortunate that I actually lost all my baby weight very quickly, within a month. However, when my baby was about 5 months, I was starting to gain some of that weight back. As she started eating more food and breastfeeding less, I needed to cut back on my intake and exercise more. It was a constant challenge, but worth it.

Good luck to all mothers-to-be!

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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Q&A: Holiday Eating

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Q: During the holidays, I eat at other people’s homes frequently. How do I eat healthy and control my weight when I am not planning the menu?

A: Great question! The holidays are often a difficult time for making healthy choices. Treats are everywhere, and big meals become the norm. Here are a few tips for eating healthy when you are eating at someone else’s home.

-Make sure your other meals are very healthy. If you know you are eating at a party for dinner, make sure you eat extra fruits and veggies at breakfast and lunch. Then your daily total will still be adequate.

-Eat light at other meals to balance overall intake. However, make sure you aren’t making yourself go hungry. Excessive hunger will just lead to overeating.

-Try and focus on any healthy dishes that are available.

-If you can, stick to one plateful. If this will leave a bad impression with your hostess, take a second helping before you finish your first. I know that seems strange. But, if you add just a little bit of a second helping to what remains of your first, your plate will look more full and you will eat less food.

-Spread food out on your plate. Avoid tall mounds of potatoes. By making food a thinner layer, it looks like your plate is full when you have less food on it.

-If the event is potluck, bring something healthy yourself.

-If you are hosting a holiday event, try to focus on health when planning your menu. Make it easier for others to keep their goals. If we all try to help each other out, everyone’s holiday eating will be healthier.

I hope that helps. The most important thing to remember is that a little splurging here and there in the holidays isn’t horrible. But being conscious of your choices and trying to minimize the splurges will make for healthier and happier holiday season.

Happy holidays and holiday eating!

Also, I just found a new online resource for healthy recipes. Check it out: https://aloha.com/shop/recipes/

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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Rethinking a “balanced” diet

I found this article on the diet of hipsters very interesting. It talks about how hipsters have a hypocritical diet – eating lots of kale and organic food along with high-calorie beer and large amounts of bacon.

The article makes an interesting point about the balance of healthy and unhealthy items in our diets. We all like to think we’ve made enough good choices to justify a treat every night, but we probably haven’t. Also, these things don’t balance out like that nor should you want your healthy/unhealthy scale balanced at the end of the day.  You want it tipped to the healthy side.

I know I struggle with this in general, but even more so recently. I am training to run a half marathon in a few weeks. When I go on my long training runs, my running app on my phone tells me I’ve burned more than a thousand calories. I try to focus on protein and complex carbs to refuel, but I often let it be an excuse for a second dessert that evening.

The article and I are not saying you can’t indulge. We are saying instead of looking at your healthy choice as an excuse to indulge, look at it as a springboard to be even more healthy. Why essentially negate one healthy choice with a bad one? Think instead: I ate a healthy breakfast and feel great, which means I’ll feel even better if I eat a healthy lunch.

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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