A visit to Parker Creek Ranch, D’Hanis, Texas

A visit to Parker Creek Ranch, D’Hanis, Texas

Do you know where your food comes from?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I’m an omnivorous city-girl and, until recently, had never really given much thought to how my steak or chicken came to be on my plate.

But these past few years, maybe because of environmental (soil, air, animal, etc.) and food source issues and their impact on healthy living and the environment, I’ve been thinking alot about where my food comes from.

Turkey on my mind

In early November when I started thinking about Thanksgiving and preparing turkey dinner I decided to look into getting a free-range turkey. I had no idea if I could get one in my area.

So I did a search for “free range turkey san antonio” and Parker Creek Ranch came up. They’re in D’Hanis, TX, just a short drive from San Antonio, and they deliver to the San Antonio area. Great!

I could’ve ordered a bird right then, but I hesitated. My skepticism got the better of me.

How could I be sure their turkeys really were “free range” and were processed humanely?

The only way is to go see for myself and, lucky me, they were offering a tour right before Thanksgiving. I signed us (Mark and me) up.

We found the ranch owners and operators, Travis and Mandy, to be smart, kind, caring, and passionate about their work. They’re both graduates of Texas A&M and are educators at heart.

On their website, they describe themselves and their goals:

As stewards of the land, our goal is to produce nutritious products for our community while designing and managing systems that will benefit the environment and future generations. 

Travis and Mandy show us their cows.

There’s a ton more about them and their work on the website, but this statement sums it up well and we saw their goals in action while touring the ranch.

We saw where the chickens, chicks, cows live and where they process their own chickens. We learned about soil, water, and the resilience of the land. And! We went on a hayride.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a turkey. They were all sold out. But now I know and next year I’ll order early.

Parker Creek Ranch Chickens

Tours

Travis and Mandy offer ranch tours a few times a year and you can stay posted on all their info by signing up for their newsletter for “news, information, products, and more.” (Click here to get to it.)

You can check out their website for a list of some restaurants where you can find Parker Creek products. They aso set up at the Farmer’s Market at The Pearl, but check out their website or sign up for updates in case this information has changed.

And if you can make it out to the ranch, the tour is fun and educational. I highly recommend it.

I feel grateful for Travis and Mandy’s hard work and committment to their goals, as well as their willingness to share what they’re learning about sustainability and conservation, not just with the general public, but with other local farmers.

As Martha Stewart used to say, “It’s a good thing.”

Mineral water photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Exercise and Good Nutrition: Why You Need Both

The first time I trained for a half-marathon, I thought, “Okay, this is good.  I’ll be burning a ton of calories running all these miles and I’ll probably drop a few pounds. Awesome!”

And, yeah, I burned lots of calories, but I didn’t lose weight. Not at all.

The saying goes: You can’t outrun (or out-lift, out-train) a bad diet.

Salad phot courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

That means, exercise alone isn’t enough.

If you really want results, you need both: regular exercise and good nutrition.

How can it possible that even when you’re burning a lot more calories you don’t lose weight?

One possibility is a phenomenon called “The Halo Effect”

The Halo Effect

In a nutshell, it’s when you think something or some one is so good it’s hard for you to be objective.photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

When it comes to fitness, the halo effect is:
I work out so I can eat whatever I want.

Sure, I can have dessert and a jumbo margarita! I just ran 10 miles.

 

I’m running a 5k tomorrow. I can have an extra serving.

The Halo Effect results in a person losing objectivity and allowing herself more high calorie indulgences or “rewards” because she worked out.

Thus the saying: You can’t outrun, out-lift, or out-train a bad diet.

In my experience, nutrition is way more critical in losing and maintaining a healthy weight than exercise, but it’s also the more challenging component.

And, it seems that the nutrition piece becomes even more important with age. You may be thinking, “I used to be able to eat whatever I want and never gain a pound.” [I’ve never said that, personally.]

So how do you do it? What’s the easiest way to get the best results from all your hours at the gym?

Here are a few tips on how to incorporate exercise and nutrition for the best results

Eat clean

Photo of apple courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Simply put, eating clean means eating whole foods in their most natural form as possible. For example, if you have a choice between an apple, apple sauce, and an apple flavored, gluten-free fruit chew, the apple’s the best choice. Choose minimally processed food with no added sugar whenever possible.

Eat more vegetables

At every meal, have at least one serving of vegetables, and shoot for 2 – 3 servings each meal. Starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes don’t count. 

Drink water to stay hydrated

The standard recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces every day and even more than that if you’ve been sweating. Adequate hydration improves all bodily functions. Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration which can result in problems such as headaches, constipation, muscle cramps, and more.

Be aware of added sugar in beverages and choose accordingly

Sugar photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Sports drinks, soda, fruit juice, adult beverages, and sweetened coffee drinks often have a ton of added sugar and a ton of extra calories.

Many restaurants now have calories per serving listed right on the menu and others have nutrition information on their website. It’s worth taking a look.

Read labels for ingredients and serving size

When you look for calories on the label, don’t forget to check the serving size.

For more information, read How to Read a Food Label

The most important thing is to find what works for you and then stick with it. For more recommendations and nutrition tips at How to Start Eating Healthy and Stick to It

Over the past few years of working out and finding what works best for me, I discovered that exercise has many benefits but losing weight isn’t one of them. Maybe that’s because of the Halo Effect. I don’t know for sure.

What I know for sure is that making good nutrition choices improves my overall feeling of health, wellness, and fitness. I make my share of bad choices and I’m not anywhere near perfect, but when I do these things most of the time:

  • Eat clean
  • Eat my veggies
  • Drink water
  • Avoid added sugar
  • Pay attention to food labels

I get better results. It’s most likely, you will too.

How about you? Do you agree with the statement: “You can’t outrun a bad diet”? What works best for you?

Pic of strength training published on strong-woman.com

How to Start Eating Healthy and Stick to It

Years ago, I struggled with several health concerns, including having a very tough time losing weight. I was frustrated and confused because I was physically active at that time – worked out regularly – and it seemed like I was always training for some event, like a half-marathon or sprint triathlon.

Pic of strength training published on strong-woman.com

But when I realized how nutrition was impacting my health, I knew had a lot to learn. I tried all the nutrition hacks I could find, like low carb, no white stuff (rice, bread, sugar), eat breakfast, don’t eat breakfast, nutrition pyramid, etc.

Nothing helped very much and I was frustrated with my results. I thought something was wrong with me and that maybe my body just wanted to carry that extra weight. Or maybe I was just weak and lacked will power.

Then I realized that one of the reasons I didn’t have long-term success was because I hadn’t found what works for me, not just to lose weight, but for overall better health.

Choose a variety of vegetables and flavors picture published on strong-woman.com

That’s when I learned that some nutrition and inflammation and that, for whatever reason, some types of food aren’t good for me. I also learned about the glycemic index and how eating low glycemic food can help me lose weight. (Read Use Low Glycemic Approach to Lose Weight and Keep It Off for more information.)

Finally!

There’s a lot of confusion about what works best when you’re trying to eat healthy. Should you have fat or not have fat?

Is sugar really that bad for you?

What about breakfast? I heard the old saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” is a myth. Is it?

If you’re ready to start eating healthy and want some direction, here are 5 easy steps to get started.

Find what works for you.

The saying goes: The best diet is the one you can stick to.

We’re all different so what works for you may not work for me. And vice-versa.

Do you have to stay away from bread? For me, whole grains like quinoa and steel cut oats are okay for me, but most other grains aren’t. You may be fine with most grains.

Should you eat breakfast or skip it? Some people, like my husband, practice “intermittent fasting” and skip breakfast. It works for them. If I skip breakfast, I feel ravenous and tend to eat more or whatever’s on hand.

Should you snack or not? For me, small snacks throughout the day help keep me from getting over-hungry and helps me stay on track.

Is dairy okay? For some people even a little dairy is too much.

Is low-carb a good option? If you like fruits and vegetables, low carb is probably not going to be the best option for you.

For more information, go to webmd.com’s 10 Tips for Finding the Best Diet That Works for You

Practice portion control.

A couple of tricks to keep portions reasonable:

Drink choices are as important as food choices published on strong-woman.com

Use a smaller bowl/plate.

Use a small spoon.

When at home, keep extra food away from the table so second helpings aren’t as convenient.

When eating out:

Share an entree with a friend.

Pack half your entree in a to-go container.

Make water your drink of choice.photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Energy drinks, fruit drinks, alcohol, and sweet and creamy coffee drinks often have little nutrition and lots of added sugar. If you choose to indulge, stick with the small size.

Unsweetened tea or coffee or fruit-infused water are good options.

Eat mindfully.

Fast eating usually means unsatisfied eating. like when you’re eating so fast you don’t even remember what you ate?

Take your time and eat slowly. This is a lot easier to do if you’re not over-hungry.

Learn about food labels.

The simple way to read a food label is to look at the ingredients.

food label published on strong-woman.com

Watch for added sugar and make the best choice you can. For more information about food labels, read How to Read a Food Label

We’re all different. What works for some people may not work for you.

It may be helpful to keep a food journal so you can note how certain foods make you feel. Which food leave you feeling satisfied and which leave you hungry right away.

It takes trial and error, but it’s well worth the effort when you discover which foods help you feel healthy and well instead of sick and worn out.

Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

(Video) Improve your health and happiness

 

A few years ago I learned something that shifted my attitude about the connection between good health and food.

The Health-Nutrition Connection

It started when I caught Dr. Mark Hyman on television talking about his book, The Blood Sugar Solution. At the time, I wasn’t feeling well. I had digestive issues, pre-diabetes symptoms, menopausal symptoms, rosacea, low energy, and more.

In his discussion that Sunday afternoon, Dr. Hyman said (in a nutshell) that improving nutrition improves health and that people (like me) are unknowingly eating food that’s causing inflammation and making them (me) sick.

Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

 

I was skeptical, but wanted to learn more, so I bought The Blood Sugar Solution. And soon after incorporating a few of Dr. Hyman’s recommendations, I felt better. My symptoms improved almost immediately.

To read more about my experience and what I learned, read “Nutrition and Inflammation – How Are They Related and Why Should I Care?

An Interview with Dr. Mark Hyman

Today, I’m sharing a video of one of my favorite people online, Marie Forleo,  interviewing Dr. Hyman.

If you’re not familiar with Marie, I highly recommend you check out her work. She is “An entrepreneur, writer, philanthropist, and unshakable optimist dedicated to helping you become the person you most want to be.” From Marie’s “About” page at marieforleo.com 

I hope you take the time to watch or listen to the interview if you’re interested in learning a few simple ways to improve your health.

You may be doubtful, about Dr. Hyman’s message, about the idea that food you eat every day can be making you sick. I was certainly skeptical about his message.

I thought, “Certainly food companies aren’t allowed to sell products that make people sick.”  I thought I was protected.

But now I know that’s just not true.

Click here to read more about the interview and watch/listen to the segment on MarieTV.

Or watch/listen to the 30-minute video here:

 

Especially as we age, eating good food becomes critical to feeling well and strong. I encourage you to watch/listen with an open mind and an open heart. Dr. Hyman inspired me take control of my health and it could do the same for you or some one you love.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you’ve heard. Feel free to share in the comments.

Photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

5 Reasons to Take Care of Your Health Now

We’ve learned a lot about the human body and staying healthy over the past 60 years. As a result, we’ve seen changes in public policy, surgeon general recommendations, and what’s considered “healthy”.

This 1949 Camel cigarette commercial claims, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.”

 

And I love watching The Twilight Zone. That was a show ahead of its time, and a sign of the times as the show’s creator, Rod Serling, regularly appeared with a lit cigarette.

Downloaded from freepublic.com and published on strong-woman.com
Rod Serling from The Twilight Zone

 

Cigarettes are still around. Many people choose to light up despite the warnings. Some struggle to kick the habit. Still, far fewer Americans smoke in 2017 than did in 1950.

We got the message: smoking’s bad for your health.

(If you smoke and would like more information about quitting, go to smokefree.gov for information, tips, tools, and support.)

These days, the public health warnings have shifted from the dangers of smoking to warnings about health risks of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle:

Obesity is the new smoking.

Sitting too much is bad for your health.

Whether or not you believe the claims, I think most people would agree that eating nutritious food and exercising regularly (specific recommendations vary, but generally agree on moderation, reducing processed foods and more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean meats) are better for your health than not.

Will public health warnings lead to restricted food marketing and regulations on less healthy food, like they did with cigarettes?

Maybe.

Or, you can do what’s best for your health, take care of yourself, and adopt a healthier lifestyle now.

Even without a Surgeon General’s warning.

It’s hard to stay motivated to eat right and exercise. I struggle with it too. It helps to

Look at it as an investment.

Not just for now, but for your future.

Here are 5 reasons it’s a good idea for your future to take care of yourself now:

Feel better now and in the future.

Many health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, are cumulative and progressive. Whatever you can do now to minimize your risk will help your health today and years from now.

Do it for quality of life, not just quantity.

Better to be well and strong enough to do what you love for all your days, rather than being restricted because of your health. Your actions now will help determine whether you’re able to dance with your grandchildren or have to watch from the sidelines.

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com published on strong-woman.com
Sitting idle
Improved mobility.

What if you live to be 90? If you have to worry about whether you’ll fall or if you have limited mobility, you’re more likely to stay home and limit your options for activity. Regular exercise conditions your whole body and improves mobility as you age.

Lower cost of health care.

Who knows what the future will bring in the area of health care costs? It’s expensive to be sick. Eat and exercise to prevent lifestyle-related illnesses. It may prevent you from putting your financial health at risk in the future.

Ingrain good habits.

It’s hard to break bad habits. Think about those cigarette smokers who were killing themselves, but were so addicted to nicotine, they couldn’t quit. Take baby steps and keep it simple. Do what you can to live a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious food and exercising regularly so you can keep those good habits going.


It’s amazing to see characters in old movies and TV shows smoking on airplanes, in elevators and hospitals. Will super huge sodas, extra large cinnamon rolls, and king size candy bars ever be an oddity?

That’s hard to imagine.

Choose a variety of vegetables and flavors picture published on strong-woman.com

Why Oprah’s Message Matters More Than Her Weight Loss

January’s the time of year when you can’t get away from commercials for gyms, diet programs, and diet pills.

photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

You may have seen Oprah’s new commercial in which she gives us an itty-bitty glimpse of her life and shows off her 40 pound weight loss. If you haven’t, you can watch it here.

It’s hard to say what effect the new commercial will have on Weight Watchers’ sales, because that’s the real objective of this ad campaign.

Increased sales or not, congratulations to Oprah! She’s lost 40 pounds! That’s a great accomplishment. And yet, she doesn’t look thin, slender, or super fit.

What’s the selling point? Other than Oprah saying the product is great.

The underlying message here is to live well while losing weight without feeling deprived.

If you’ve watched Oprah for a while, you know that she’s struggled with her weight for years. Imagine having that kind of history and doing this program publicly.

It took courage for her to put herself out there and make herself vulnerable, even if she is getting paid for it. And even if she is Oprah.

No, she’s not skinny.

Has she reached her goal? Does she really cook her own food? (Really?!)

Is she okay with her current weight and ready to maintain it?

For anybody who’s ever lost weight and then gained it all back, you know that’s the hard part.

 

I heard this advice years ago and it’s changed my way of looking at losing weight and dieting: “Pick a weight loss plan you can live with to maintain a healthy weight, not just to lose weight.”

That’s the tricky part – maintaining a healthy weight.

The secret? Find what works for you and then make it a lifestyle.

For me, low-glycemic eating put an end to years of yo-yo dieting. Read more about yo-yo dieting and low-glycemic here.

Oprah’s message is about more than losing weight and being thin.

It’s really about making healthy-living a lifestyle.
Being happy and healthy.
And then getting on with the business of living your life.

Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t the easiest thing to do. But it’s do-able and well worth the effort.

Does seeing a celebrity endorsing a weight loss plan or product motivate you to try it? I’d love to hear your take. Feel free to post in the comments below.

photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Did you gain weight over the holidays? You’re not alone.

If you gained weight over the holidays, you’re not alone. Studies show that most people tend to gain at least a couple of pounds.

Actually, I’ve been a little lax since Thanksgiving, and when Christmas rolled around I showed no restraint.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com
Holiday indulgence.
I ate what I wanted for 2 weeks over the holidays and here’s what I learned.
  • 5 pounds makes a difference. I can feel it. If it makes a difference when I gain it, it’ll make a difference when I lose it.
  • I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person. I have a hard time with just a little bit. Does that say something negative about my character? Maybe. All I know is that once I start, it’s really hard for me to stop.

(My husband’s an “everything in moderation” kind of person. He can be eating something delicious and just say, “I’m done.” And stop eating. It’s fascinating.)

  • Sugar is a problem for me. The more I have, the more I want. I guess that’s true for most people.

Sugar photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Time to put on the brakes

I want to get back to eating nutritious food and lose the weight I gained because I don’t feel my best carrying this extra 5 – 6 …okay 7 pounds.

And the other thing is, this is how it starts for me. If I don’t put the brakes on now, it’s only a matter of time before I’ll have gained a lot more. I don’t want that. (Read more about my yo-yo weight here.)

My plan of action to lose this holiday weight:

  • Keep a food journal. This really helps. And now there are mobile apps that I find a lot more convenient than keeping a notebook. I use MyFitnessPal, but if you’d like to find out about others, read The Best Nutrition Apps of 2016 for a comparison.
  • Minimize sugar and processed carbs, like crackers and tortilla chips (one of my weaknesses).
  • Eat more vegetables, preferably raw. They’re rich in nutrients and fiber.
  • Eat breakfast. Sometimes I get busy and before I know it, it’s time for lunch, but by then I’m really hungry. I do much better when I eat breakfast.
  • Drink water throughout the day and especially before meals.
  • Avoid getting over-hungry by eating small meals and snacks throughout the day and make some of those raw vegetables, like carrots, grape tomatoes, or cut up vegetables.
  • Re-visit my “why”. Clarifying the bare bones motivation for me to lose the weight I’ve gained and get back on track is really important. I’m a rationalization queen. I can reason away 7 pounds in my sleep and be quite alright with it in the morning. But the truth is, I don’t feel my best and that’s reason enough for me to get clear on my “why”. 

    Older couple romantic published on strong-woman.com

My goal is to age well, to be strong and fit well into my 70s and 80s, if I’m fortunate to live that long. I wish to travel lightly though life, not only by having a heart of gratitude and forgiveness, but by living and acting as if I eat to live, not live to eat.

I want food to help sustain my health, not bring me down. 

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t easy for most of people. It’s like life. There’ll be ups and downs. Time to re-focus and re-commit.

And truly, in the big picture, with all that’s going on in the world, it doesn’t matter how much I weigh. Except that, I have work to do and I’m better able to do it when I feel my best: healthy, strong, and happy.

How did you do over the holidays? Did you gain a couple or a few pounds? Maybe you lost weight. I’d love to hear your take. Please post in the comments below.

photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

5 Reasons to Join the Meatless Monday Movement

The Meatless Monday movement is a promotion aimed at reducing meat consumption for a healthier planet and its inhabitants.

Why Meatless Monday?

According to meatlessmonday.com, the Meatless Monday Campaign’s goal

“is to encourage people to refrain from eating meat one day a week. Meatless Monday seeks to reduce the prevalence of preventable illnesses and the environmental impacts associated with meat production and excessive meat consumption. Meatless Monday was originally promoted by the U.S. government during both World Wars by urging families to reduce consumption of key staples. It was reintroduced as a public health awareness campaign in 2003 by former ad man turned health advocate Sid Lerner, in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School and the Center for a Livable Future.” 

The movement is global and reaches more than 44 countries. It’s a movement designed to make people aware of the environmental and health impacts of increased meat consumption.

According to the campaign website, more people are eating more meat around the world, and health risks will increase as worldwide meat consumption increases.

photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Meatless Monday Meal

I participate in Meatless Monday as a way to be more thoughtful about my food sources. It’s become a good way to introduce meatless dishes at my house.

Here are my top 5 reasons to join the Meatless Monday Movement:

1. Eat lighter by eating less meat

The movement started back WWI and then was brought back in WW II to help focus resources on the war effort, and then was re-introduced to reduce preventable diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. That’s not to say that meat causes these diseases, but because we eat more meat than in past generations, the logic is that eating less may be good for your health.

2. Focus on vegetables

Meatless Mondays are the perfect time to try new vegetable recipes or vegetables you’ve never tried before or to amp up the vegetables and make them the center of the meal instead of the lowly side.

photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Longhorn and calf
3. Raise awareness of food sources

I learned about the Meatless Monday movement when I started looking more closely at food sources and where my food was coming from. I’m a city girl and I’ve never slaughtered an animal and prepped it as food. I accept that humans are the top of the food chain, but still feel compelled to consider the process that gets a cow to be a steak. And I know it’s not much, but meatless meals even one day a week help me be more conscious of where my food comes from and how it gets to my table.

4. Lighten your ecological footprint

Our ecological footprint is calculated by the amount of resources, specifically fuel, we use. If you’re interested in conservation and ecology, you’re probably interested in lightening your ecological footprint. Red meat consumption is one of the primary calculators of your ecological footprint. For more information about the ecological footprint, go to footprintnetwork.org.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Roasted vegetables for Meatless Monday
5. Encourages creativity in the kitchen.

How many meals can you think of that don’t use meat? I couldn’t think of many. If your family is a meat and potatoes kind of bunch, a meatless dinner they’ll like may sound impossible, but it’s do-able. Meatlessmonday.com has lots of recipes and meal ideas. You can also try The Food Network Blog. Lots of food bloggers and recipe sites now have sections for Meatless Monday as well.

Why Monday?

Monday’s the day most people choose to make a lifestyle change, such as quitting smoking or starting to exercise.

Give Meatless Monday a try. You may not even miss the meat.

Do you think Meatless Monday is something you’d like to do? Please share any meal ideas for meatless meals.

Medal photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Why is it so hard to get motivated to lose weight?

Millions of Americans struggle with obesity and the numbers continue to rise. Weight-related illnesses come at a high cost to a person’s health and add up to billions of dollars a year in health care. Many people know they should, but it’s so difficult to get motivated to lose weight.

The struggle is real.

Lose weight. It’s a common New Year’s resolution, but it stays on the list year after year, so that it becomes better suited for a “Wish List”.

Why is it so hard to get motivated to lose weight? What’s that trigger point when we know it’s time to get serious about weight loss, exercise, and healthy lifestyle?

The “Aha moment”. That moment of clarity, when the motivation, belief, and decision to make a change happen all at once.

The motivation to lose weight is different for everyone.

Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Health can help a person get motivated.

It could be:

  • Something the doctor says
  • Something a loved one says
  • Threat of being on medication and don’t want to be on medication
  • Threat of being on medication and can’t afford medication
  • Worrying about breaking chairs because of weight
  • Worrying about not fitting in chairs
  • Not recognizing yourself in pictures
  • Being scared straight by life-threatening emergency
  • Not being able to find clothes that fit
  • Seeing relatives suffer from weight-related illnesses and knowing that’s the path you’re on and deciding you want to get off that path

Sometimes it’s enough to get started.

What makes it last?

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

When I first started my career in education, I observed teachers in the classroom. I visited public high school classrooms and it was immediately apparent that some students weren’t into school. (I know. Shocking!)

They were often unmotivated to complete assignments, participate in discussions, stay awake in class, or even show up.

I visited a Senior English class that was reading Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – not an easy read by any means, but interesting and entertaining if you can de-code it.

They didn’t want anything to do with Chaucer or his tales.

Canterbury Tales photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Canterbury Tales

How do you get people to do something they don’t really want to do? How do you keep them motivated?

The discussion in my education classes and amongst my future teacher friends often centered around the best ways to motivate students.

Motivation is either intrinsic or extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It’s motivation/movement/action that comes from the simple desire to do something, to reach a personal goal or expectation. It’s the understanding and desire to do well and meet or exceed expectations or goals.

For those high school seniors struggling to de-code Chaucer, few students were intrinsically motivated to make an effort.

Extrinsic motivation means motivation from outside of self, such as for a reward.

Extrinsic motivation is more of a “What’s in it for me?” type of motivation. Getting a homework pass for getting a perfect attendance in class for example. Store rewards and frequent customer programs motivate customers to buy more by offering free merchandise/shipping if you spend a set amount.

Weight loss photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
How do you get motivated to accomplish a goal?

The million dollar question for me as a teacher was how do I get students to want to learn? How can I motivate students to learn?

The reality is you can’t make some one do something they don’t want to do.

It’s always a choice.

Those kids reading Canterbury Tales had to muster the motivation to pay attention and de-code the work, not just the language, but the historical context and social norms of the time that make it true, entertaining and still worth a read hundreds of years later.

Reading Chaucer is not easy. Neither is losing weight.

When it comes to our health, we have to be just like those kids in school. We have to want to do it. We have to get motivated to lose weight. Our reasons will differ, but ultimately, we have to see a benefit and decide that it’s worth the effort.

What are some motivators?

Medal photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Rewards can be motivating.

Extrinsic motivation alone doesn’t have long-lasting results. Rewards programs for exercising and losing weight are marginally successful.

Many companies offer employees incentives for exercising, tracking steps, reaching 10,000 steps a day, and monitor their activity. Some participants cheated in a major way with these programs. One guy put his step tracker on a ceiling fan.

Some step trackers have an accountability opportunity by creating a community in which you compete with others to get steps, track food, etc. If you’re a competitive person, this may work well for you. Keep it going.

Remember intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. A weight loss challenge or contest can be great motivation to get started. To keep it going for life, it’s got to be something deeper.

When you’re ready, take action.

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Get motivated to lose weight.

Success is the accumulation of the daily habits that may seem insignificant by themselves, but over time these small actions add up to results. And then:

  • Set a goal.
    • 1 pound a week doesn’t sound like a lot, but slow and steady over time tends to lead to more successful weight maintenance.
  • Believe you can.
  • Believe you’re worth it.
  • Be patient. You didn’t get to where you are overnight. You won’t get to where you want to be overnight either. A quick fix doesn’t last. Most of the time it doesn’t work either.

For some ideas about first steps, see Take Care of Your Body and Lose Weight Without Counting Calories.

You decide.

You’re not a child and no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do. You may be subject to consequences for inaction/actions, but ultimately, you still have a choice, even if you choose to do nothing.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that the most important thing is that you feel strong, positive, and well, so you’re able to live your best life.

If you feel uncomfortable in your own skin because of your weight, weight-related health issues, or fitness level, then it’s time for a change.

You can do it!

What do you think? What affects your motivation to lose weight? Positive or negative?

Walnut photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

You’ve probably heard the long standing formula for weight loss – calories in, calories out. When you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight. Theoretically.

But that’s not all you need to know. It’s a little more involved than that.

Harvard Health Blog, posted an article last week: “There’s no sugar coating it: All calories are not created equal” that addresses the topic.

Author Celia Smoak Spell begins the article:

Burning more calories each day than you consume may have been the diet advice from the past, but that doesn’t work for everyone.  Instead, the focus should be on eating whole foods and avoiding processed carbohydrates — like crackers, cookies, or white bread.

She explains a 1960s nutritional study that started the calorie-focused, low-fat, high-carb trend.

As a result of that [flawed] study, she explains, the food industry began removing fats from processed foods. They still needed the food to taste good so when they removed the fat, they added sugar.

Sugar photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com
Look for added sugar.

Rather than counting calories alone, the article recommends choosing food with a low glycemic index, which rates food 1 – 100 based on the spike of insulin and blood sugar levels after eating a particular food. Healthy fats like nuts, avocado, and olive oil, are good choices, even though they’re high in calories.

Walnut photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Nuts are a good choice for healthy fats.

The article concludes:

“Counting calories alone doesn’t work because ultimately it matters where those calories come from; this matters more than the number of calories ingested….Dr. Ludwig, a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says, ‘It was this calorie-focus that got us into trouble with the low-fat diet in the first place.'”

My experience with low glycemic

This article caught my attention because the low glycemic approach helped me take control of my health and weight about 4 years ago.

I had struggled with my weight for years, pretty much all of my adult life. Diets and programs didn’t seem to help much, but sometimes I would lose weight, then slowly gain it all back. My goal was to reach and maintain a healthy weight, not to be skinny. Even though I worked out and ran regularly, I was pre-diabetic and so frustrated that I couldn’t keep the weight off. I started thinking there was something wrong with me. 

Photo from sprint triathlon published on strong-woman.com
Huffing it to the finish line.

As I approached 50, I was ready to give up and accept what I heard over and over: It’s just part of getting older.

Then I heard about low glycemic and I was amazed that it was so simple to integrate into my lifestyle. I was able to use the low glycemic approach to lose weight and keep it off.

In the end, it’s really about choosing nutritious food and when you think about making good food choices for a healthy body, it makes sense to look at the nutritional value of the food, not just the calories.

For example, compare a 100 calorie chocolate bar with a medium apple, which is also about 100 calories. If you only look at calories in, calories out, they’re the same.

But when you look at the nutritional value of a chocolate bar and an apple, it’s pretty obvious which will be better for your body. No, not the chocolate bar! The apple : )

Apples are a good source of fiber, vitamins, etc.

Photo of apple courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com
All calories are not the same.

The choices aren’t always that obvious.

While you’re considering the glycemic index

  • Choose foods in their natural form or minimally processed foods when you can
  • Read food labels when choosing processed foods
  • Be aware that food labels can be confusing

Portion control is still important, so be mindful of portions, eat mindfully and eat to feel satisfied, not full. Eat more veggies, choose whole grain, and limit the sugar.

You can check out Glycemic Index of 100 Foods and there are Glycemic Index apps available for download as well.

Every body is different

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important factor for overall good health. If you’re ready to commit to taking steps toward losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, sticking to low glycemic foods most of the time may work for you. It worked for me.

I’d love to hear from you. What are some strategies you use to maintain a healthy weight? What are your thoughts about choosing low glycemic foods?