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(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.

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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.

Graphic courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com
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?

food label published on strong-woman.com

How to Read a Food Label

You’ve probably heard that it’s best to stay in the perimeter of the grocery store when you shop because that’s where the “real food” is: fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, etc., but even “real food” can be processed and packaged.  Making good nutrition a part of your healthy lifestyle is all about choices.

When you’re making good food choices and find yourself looking at processed and packaged food, it makes sense to read the food label. So much great information on that label, but what in the world does it all mean?

Food labels can be so confusing!

Even “healthy” food can be surprisingly unhealthy. We’d like to think that food labels are pretty straightforward, but that’s not the case at all.

Here are my 3 basic guidelines for reading and interpreting food labels.

1. Look at the ingredients.

  • Ingredients are listed in descending order according to how much is in the product, from most to least. That means if sugar is the first ingredient listed, then that product has more sugar than any other ingredient.
Read Ingredients on Food Label
Some ingredients to watch out for as you read the label:
  • Sugar – Look for sugar in all forms, like corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, syrup, dextrose, sucrose, or fruit juice concentrate. Keep it to a minimum.

    Sugar photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com
    Look for added sugar on food label.
  • Salt –Look for the words salt, sodium, or soda.
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oil – Oil that’s been processed for a longer shelf life; not a healthy form of fat. Partially hydrogenated oil is commonly found in baked goods and fried foods. Avoid it when you can.
  • Food Additives and Preservatives – Used for lots of reasons, including extending shelf-life, adding color or flavor, and maintaining texture. Many different additives and preservatives, like food coloring, are known to have a negative effect on some people, especially children. As much as possible, choose products with ingredients you can identify and pronounce. If you wonder what it is, look it up.
  • Artificial Sweeteners – Do artificial sweeteners make people fat? The debate continues. Whether they make people fat or not, you may find that reducing artificial sweeteners increases your sensitivity to chemical additives in your food (taste) and reduce cravings for sweet food.
  • Grain Info– Look for whole grain products and keep in mind that the labeling of grains can be confusing.

According to the wholegrainscouncil.org,

“…we advise manufacturers to use the words “whole grain” in the name of a product only if the product contains more whole grain than refined grain (i.e., 51% or more of the grain is whole grain). Whole grain means that 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present to qualify as a whole grain.”

Refined grains are stripped of the fiber-rich part of the grain, so it’s important to look at fiber content. The more fiber, the better.

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Enriched Grain vs. Whole Grain

2. Serving size

  • Keep portion sizes in mind. Sometimes food manufacturers list very small serving sizes in an effort to keep the calorie count down. Pay attention to serving size when you’re planning your meals and snacks.

3. Check fiber, sugar, and calories.

  • More Fiber – Fiber’s good for digestive health and to help you feel full longer. Studies show that people who eat a high fiber diet tend to be leaner with a lower incidence of certain types of cancer, like colon cancer.
  • Less Sugar – If you’ve already read the label for sugar, you have an idea what you’re dealing with. The less, the better.
  • Calories – Not all calories are created equal. Nuts, for example, are high in calories but are a good source of healthy fat and will help keep you satisfied.

Follow these basic guidelines to help you make informed choices for you and your family.

What do you look for on food labels? Have they helped you make better food choices? Post your comments on below.