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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?

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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.

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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?

Stretching in Autumn photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

It’s November! A Great Time to Commit to a Healthy Lifestyle

November is here! Leaves are changing, mornings are brisk (for some), and Thanksgiving is only weeks away. It’s a great time to commit (or re-commit) to a healthy lifestyle, to choose nutritious food and be active every day.

“What?!” You may be thinking to yourself. “The holidays are coming up and that means lots of food, parties and crazy schedules! Commit to a healthy lifestyle? No way! It’s a terrible time to start. I’ll start right after the holidays!”

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Apple Orchard in Fall

Nope. Do it now. Carpe diem. Every day’s a great day to do something good for your health.

A healthy lifestyle is something you strive for every day. It isn’t temporary. Even if you have a long way to go, start small and build up to where you want to be. Small steps make a big difference in your mental and physical well-being. And remember, no one’s perfect and you don’t need to be perfect either.

Not sure what to do? Need directions to the Starting Line?

Here are some suggestions in the area of nutrition and exercise you can do to start your healthy lifestyle now.

Make good nutrition choices

  1. Cook at home. If holiday schedules mean meals on the run, plan ahead and be prepared with frozen vegetables, jar sauces, quick cook grains, etc. Choose minimum ingredient foods when possible. (Read “How to Read a Food Label” for more information.) Even a little bit of meal prep will go a long way to get dinner on the table faster, healthier, and less expensive than going through the drive through.
  2. Eat healthy snacks. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are excellent choices. This can help prevent you from getting over-hungry which can keep you from making good food choices.

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

  3. Practice portion control. Rather than completely cutting out your favorite not-so-healthy foods, serve yourself a small amount and enjoy it. This will keep you from feeling deprived of the foods you love.
  4. Avoid “saving yourself” for the big meal. You may think it’s a good idea to “save yourself” for the big office potluck or holiday buffet. You’d be better off eating nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day so that you’re in a better frame of mind to continue to make good choices.
  5. Be mindful of your beverage choices. Sugary drinks, juices, and ciders are high in calories. Drink water throughout the day. Try flavoring water with lemon, mint, lime, or other fruit.

    Mineral water photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com
    Flavor water with lemon, lime, or other fruit.

Stay Active

Make it a lifestyle. Do it for you and those you love.

Recent research confirms that lack of physical activity increases risk of chronic illness like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control:

“Regular physical activity helps improve your overall health and fitness, and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases.”

Here are some suggestions to get you started:
  1. Take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.

    Stairway photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com
    Take the stairs.

  2. Track your steps and set a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Most smart phones have a built in step tracker. There are many wearable fitness trackers such as Fitbit, Garmin, Apple, or pedometer. Work up to your goal by starting small and gradually increasing your steps. Do what you can, even if it’s walking for 10 minutes a day. Remember, something is better than nothing
  3. If you sit a lot during the day, stand up and stretch and/or walk for a few minutes every hour. Set a reminder on your phone or watch. There are exercise and stretch reminder apps for mobile devices for free or for a minimal fee.

    Stretching in Autumn photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
    Take a minute and stretch.

  4. Park in the farthest parking space and walk to your destination.
  5. Get a work buddy and walk before or after work. During the fall and winter months, daylight hours are short so be safe and walk in a well-lit and busy area. If you work in a building, try walking the halls and staircases.
  6. Join an exercise group. When you find an activity you enjoy and join others who like it as much as you do, you’re more likely to stay committed to it. Read here for benefits of joining a group.
  7. Get an accountability partner. Share your goals with a trusted friend who’ll hold you accountable and encourage you to keep at it. Select some one who understands your challenges, but won’t let you off the hook.

Get started now.

There’s no time like the present to take that first step. Commit to doing one thing at a time and then build from there.

If you already exercise, keep it up. Be flexible and stay as consistent as you can. Remember, something is better than nothing.

Yes, it will soon be the holiday season and it’s as good a time as any to taking steps toward a healthier you. It’s always a great time to take care of yourself so you can do the work you need to do – so you can take care of who and what you need to take care of.

Do you have any strategies to help you stay on track through the holiday season? Please share in the comments below. 

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Keep a Positive Self-Image as You Age

Gravity’s a powerful and constant force. I’ve always thought that gravity is to blame for wrinkles, sagging skin, and sagging body parts. Scientists say that’s not true. People will age no matter what. Something about Einstein’s theory of relativity, time, and space. Whatever. All I know is that Bette Davis knew what she was talking about when she famously said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies!”

bette-davis
Bette Davis lived to be 81.

Different ways of aging

Even though gray hair and wrinkles are obvious signs of aging, we age in different ways: chronological, mental, biological, and physical. So we may be 50 but have the mental sharpness of a 30 year old, have the internal body age of a 60 year old, and physical appearance of a 50 year old. All these things combine to create our self-image, so it’s easy to see how self-image can get thrown off.

Aging can be traumatic to self-image. The first time I saw my saggy neck skin was a shocker. I became borderline obsessed and would look at it from different angles. I found myself paying close attention to commercials for products promising  to correct the condition. Total bummer. And even though it still bugs me sometimes, I don’t obsess about it anymore. I chose to adjust my self-image. Some one else might choose to adjust the skin. Either way, a positive self-image goes a long way to help you feel comfortable in your own skin, saggy or not.

Here are 5 ways to keep a positive self-image as you age:

Take care of yourself.

Never underestimate the power of a healthy lifestyle. Eating nutritious food, exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking alcohol in moderation, and minimizing stress will all help to keep you feeling well and strong.  You don’t have to change everything all at once. Small changes add up over time. When you think about getting older, don’t just think about how long you’ll live, think about how well you’ll live and do what you can now to improve your quality of life in the future. Read Take Care of Your Body for specific tips about living a healthy lifestyle. 

Find a role model.

Have you seen some one older than you and thought, “Wow! I want to be like that when I’m their age!” They’re your role model. My mom is a few months away from her 80th birthday and remains active, connected, and vibrant. She takes bus trips, stays involved with her church community, plays bunco with a group she’s been with for 50 years, and loves attending all kinds of events. She’s got a great attitude, a great laugh, speaks her mind, doesn’t hold a grudge, gives back by volunteering, stays connected to family and community, line dances twice a week, learns new things, reads regularly, goes to the movies, and doesn’t wait around for any one to entertain her. I’m blessed to be able to see her embracing life. I want to be like that when I’m 80.

Self-image aging published on strong-woman.com
Mom at a ranch in North Texas while on a recent bus trip.
Be kind to yourself.

Sometimes we’re not so nice to ourselves and we forget that words are powerful. You are what you say you are. The body achieves what the mind believes, so never beat yourself up. Practice building yourself up instead.

Have an attitude of gratitude.

Be grateful for every moment and face each day with a mindset of opportunity to learn something new and do something good for some one. Make the most of the present and don’t regret the time. 

Run your own race.

Stop comparing yourself to others, or even to your younger self. If you’re thinking and remembering, longing for your body and what you could do 10 or 20 years ago, stop it. There’s no point. Instead, reflect on all the experience, life, and love you’ve had since then. Think about how you might feel about your body in 10 or 20 years and more than likely you won’t be as quick to find fault with it now.

Self-image run your own race published on strong-woman.com
Run your own race.

 

You choose

Whether you choose to accept the aging process as it comes or to take all medical and technological means available to fight aging every step of the way is up to you. Maybe you fall somewhere in between. Whatever you choose to do, nurture your self-image every day to help you stay healthy and strong in body, mind, and spirit.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

How to Make Roasted Vegetables

You may have heard the weight loss advice: Eat right and exercise. It sounds so simple, but what does that mean?

For starters, one of the most straightforward things you can do when you want to “eat right” is to eat more vegetables. And if you’re going to be able to make more vegetables part of a lifestyle, they have to taste good.

Try roasting them. I love roasting. Roasting’s my favorite!

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Stay on track by eating more veggies.

I’ve had roasted cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and recently tried roasted butternut squash – Yum!

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces.

Roasting is super simple and you can get a ton of variety. I’ve tried it a couple of different ways and this is what works best for me.

How to roast vegetables

Roast for at least 20 minutes at 500 Degrees in a pre-heated oven. If you like vegetables caramelized, a little longer.

Cut in bite size pieces and use whatever variety of vegetable you like – onions, tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, squash, etc. I like to use a variety of textures and colors.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Try different vegetable combinations of roasted vegetables.

You can add bite-size pieces of chicken or beef and make it a 1 pan meal.

In a large bowl, toss vegetables in a mixture of about a tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt so they’re lightly coated.

For variety, you can change it up by adding a little of one of the following: lemon or lime juice, italian dressing, or herbs to the mixture. 

Place vegetables on a pan in a single layer. If you’re making a lot, you may have to use 2 pans.

Some vegetables release more moisture and may need additional cooking time so check progress and remove when done to your preference.

Serving suggestions

You can mix the finished product with prepared quinoa, a salad, or enjoy as a side with your meal.

Super easy and super delicious!

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A Healthy Lifestyle and Breast Cancer Risk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons, special “pink” events, and all levels of athletic teams – little league to professional – wear pink to promote breast cancer awareness every October.

Breast Cancer Ribbon - Breast Cancer Awareness Symbol
Breast Cancer Ribbon – Symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hopefully, the pink reminders start conversation about symptoms, signs, facts, risks, and nature of the disease. Knowledge is key, and knowledge + action is power.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month “Go Pink” activities have helped raise lots of money for breast cancer research and there are still many questions to be answered. However, research has linked certain lifestyle choices to breast cancer risk and that’s what I’m going to focus on here. I used the American Cancer Society website (cancer.org) as the primary source, but found similar information on other sites such as komen.org, cancer.gov,  and cdc.gov.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Promotions Abound

Lifestyle choices shown to lower risk:

  • Choose good food  – What’s does that mean? Generally speaking, good food is as close to its natural form as possible. Choose more vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and lean protein. And remember, just because a product is marketed as “Healthy”, doesn’t mean it is. I know. It can be complicated. Read food labels and if you need help making sense of it all, here are some tips to get started.
  • Exercise – Get on your feet and move. Walk, run, swim, skip, march in place, dance, clean a closet (that’s a workout at my house!), garden, bowl, etc. Exercise is great for your body and for your mind. Here are some ideas about how to get moving and how to stay consistent. You can do it! There are a ton of gadgets that can help. Most smart phones have a built in step tracker so you may already have one. Wearables are fitness trackers that track your activity and can even remind you to get up and move. General recommendations suggest getting 10,000 steps a day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Without attempting to get into the medical terms, it’s got something to do with fat cells putting hormone levels out of whack. Hormone levels impact cancer risk, especially for post-menopausal women. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight is not about looking cute, being skinny, media influence on what is sexy, or any of those other things. It’s about you, your health, and giving your amazing body a fighting chance.
  • Limit alcohol – Did you know that a serving of wine is only 4 – 5 ounces? That’s about half a cup. I know; it’s not much. Research shows that women who drink more than 1 serving of alcohol a day (men – 2 servings a day) have an increased risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

No guarantees

Of course, there are no guarantees that living a healthy lifestyle will prevent diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, but a healthy lifestyle may reduce your risk and increase your long-term quality of life.

Early detection of breast cancer improves survival rates. Talk to your doctor about screening guidelines, current research, genetic and family history risks, and the like. He or she will be the best resource to give you information based on your age, health, lifestyle factors, and family history.

A healthy lifestyle of eating nutritious food and exercising helps keep you strong in body, mind, and spirit. Take baby steps if you have to. Do what you can. Think about what you will gain instead of what you’re giving up. You’re worth it.

Do it for you and for the ones you love.

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Somewhere Between Fat and Thin

On a recent 3-hour drive home from Galveston to San Antonio, I listened to an episode of “This American Life” hosted by Ira Glass in which he looks at a topic from lots of different angles and talks to people who are connected to the subject in various ways. The episode was entitled “Tell Me I’m Fat”.

Hmmm. The title intrigued me.

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Somewhere between fat and thin
Being fat in America

The episode explores being a fat woman in America from 4 different perspectives. Their experiences were different, but they shared some common themes – judgment, discrimination, and shame. Each of the women told how they were subjected to negative comments, rude stares, judgmental conclusions that they had no self-control, got passed over for a job promotion, date, or group activity, and even one woman who, in the 80’s, attended a University with health standards and was not allowed to re-enroll for her fall semester because she missed her summer weight-loss goal by 4 pounds.

Each of these women also talked about the choices they made in dealing with the weight discrimination. The choices are to do nothing, to change themselves, or to change the minds of others.

The story got me thinking about what I believe about the subject of weight, weight loss, discrimination, and what motivates people to change or not.

It’s personal

For me, it used to be about being thin. I thought that if I could just lose weight all my problems would be solved. I tried lots of different diets and really wasn’t clear on what I wanted or why I wanted it.

Not anymore. Now, what I want is to be healthy, happy, and strong, especially as I get older. It’s no longer about being thin or fat and that’s why maintaining a healthy weight is important and worth the effort, not just for me but for my family. I want to do my best to stay well, active and mobile for as long as I live.

While I know what to do to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight, it’s still a struggle. Many times, but specially during holidays and vacations, I tend to choose food that I know isn’t the best for me. What’s the problem? I know what to do and I know what I want. The problem is between my ears. My mindset.

Mindset is the biggest factor when it comes to this issue “weight”. It doesn’t matter how much you know what you should be doing or what great tech devices you have to help you along the way, you have to have a mindset to make it a lifestyle. No more lose weight then gain it all back. Get mentally prepared.

Here are 3 things to do when you’re ready to make a change:
know-your-whyDecide what you really want and why you want it.

There’s more than being fat or being thin. A woman recently told me she wanted to get to a certain weight and I asked her why that number. She said she felt best years ago when she was at that weight – healthy, strong, and happy and carrying the extra 20 pounds she’s gained in the past few years makes that hard for her. So really, what she wants is to feel that way again. This type of reflection is the beginning of discovering your “why” – getting to the essence of why you want to make this long-lasting change.

 

happiness-quotes-4qPvfG-quote

Decide to be happy, no matter how much you weigh.

What most people want is to be happy and we pursuit happiness, as if it’s out there somewhere. I used to think, “If I could only be thin then I’ll be happy.” In the radio story, one woman decides to love herself as she is and doesn’t care what people think. She’s happy. Another woman decides to lose weight with a doctor’s help and she loses more than 100 pounds in less than a year and even though she’s thin and a lot of good things have come her way, she’s not happy.

Being thin doesn’t guarantee happiness and health, just like being fat doesn’t guarantee unhappiness and sickness. Choose happiness.

Love is the absence of judgement. Dalai Lama XIV
Show yourself some love.

Be kind to yourself and never beat yourself up about your weight and instead show yourself some love by being grateful for your body and all it does for you every day. It took me a while to get to this point. I think about my younger self and I wish I’d have shown myself more love back then. If I felt fat or some one else called me fat, I wasn’t strong enough to not be ashamed. Shame is personal and lingers. It’s a by-product of judgment and rejection. That only motivated me to find comfort in food.

You can transform yourself and your life when you shift your mindset toward away from shame, unhappiness, and finding comfort in food. Don’t let how much you weight keep you from living your best life. You can do it.

Is there more to it than being thin or fat? I’d love to hear what you think about the subject.

To Weigh or Not to Weigh?

To weigh or not to weigh: that is the question.

hamlet
Hamlet – To be or not to be…

If you’re trying to lose weight, this question becomes an important one.

There seem to be 2 philosophical camps: the weight-not-ers and the weigh-ers.

The weigh-not –ers say don’t weigh yourself because your weight can fluctuate daily and if you’re doing everything right and not losing weight then you’ll get discouraged and ditch the whole effort. They say it’s all about how you feel and not about a number on a scale because how does anyone pick an arbitrary number as an “ideal weight”? And just because a person is at his or her “ideal weight” doesn’t mean he or she is healthy. 

On the other hand, the weigh-ers say you should weigh yourself regularly – at most daily but at least once a week – to help you stay on track because your weight is a good indication of how you’re doing in the area of weight loss/management.

scale
Dread the scale?

I recommend you take a little from each camp. I say definitely weigh yourself. Don’t hate the scale; it’s just a measurement device, like a thermometer.

While the scale is a great tool, try not to obsess over it. If your weight is up a couple of pounds, don’t decide that you can’t eat anything for the rest of the day or say, “Forget it! I’ve been perfect for a whole week and haven’t lost a single pound! I can’t lose weight!” and decide to soak your frustrations in a tub of ice cream.

That won’t help.

Remember your weight truly can fluctuate based on hormone cycle, hydration, etc. Make a note of the number and continue to eat lean meats or plant protein, whole fruits, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables. Eat low glycemic foods to keep your body well-fueled. Read my blogpost, Diet Roulette, for more information about eating low glycemic.

If you think you’ve done everything right but still gained a few pounds, try keeping a food journal and write every single thing you put in your mouth, every morsel of food, drink, and even that tiny taste of candy, cookie, cake…you get the picture. Keeping a food journal helps us be more mindful of what we’re eating and may call attention to mindless snacking we hadn’t noticed before.

Keep in mind that your daily actions are what determine your outcome. Make reaching your weight-loss goal part of your healthy lifestyle. Make a conscious decision that you’re in it for life and you’re not on a diet. Diets are temporary; that’s why they don’t work. Be patient.

Now, let’s say you hop on the scale and you’ve lost a few pounds. Congratulations! That’s great! Maybe you expected the weight loss, maybe you didn’t. Either way, enjoy the weight loss and keep the good nutrition going.

Remember, that the scale is not the enemy. In my experience with weight loss/management, what’s hard to lose is super easy to gain, and, like it or not, the scale is a reliable tool for measuring weight.

Another great tool is a tape measure – Measure your waist, hips, thighs, and biceps. According to most health professionals, your waist measurement should be no more than half your height. Depending on your workout and nutrition routine, losses may show more in inches than in pounds.   apple

If you want to lose a few pounds or if you’re interested in maintaining your weight, it’s important to weigh and measure yourself to help you stay focused on eating healthy, nutritious food.

Most of the time, I really don’t need to hop on the scale or measure myself to know I’ve put on a few pounds. Last summer, after a 7-day cruise of eating rich food aplenty and indulging in dessert nearly every night, I dreaded getting on the scale. I knew I had gained weight. I could feel it. The only question was how much?

The scale confirmed what I already knew, but somehow, seeing that number burst my rationalization bubble and helped me get back on track faster than I would have without it.

Never give up! No matter what the scale says, never give up! Commit to a healthy lifestyle and use the scale to your benefit.

So, are you a weigh-er or a weigh-not-er? What works best for you?

menopause published on strong-woman.com

What about “The Change”? Yes, I’m talking about Menopause

MenopauseSignI’ve been thinking a lot about menopause, specifically, about what my grandmother experienced during her “change of life” and how that was different from what my mom experienced and how that was different than what I’ve experienced so far; how going through “the change” should be better understood and more straightforward now than it was even two generations ago.

In some ways it is. At least now we can talk about it and seek more information about what might be causing some of the crazy symptoms of menopause instead of assuming we’re losing our minds. Women in past generations often thought they were going insane and some were even institutionalized during menopause. My own experience and education since being on this long menopause road has brought to mind some interesting questions.

First of all, what does “menopause” mean? According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term evolved from Greek origin menos, meaning “month” + pausis, meaning “pause or stop”. Makes sense. Monthly cycle stops.

The way I see it, menopause is the transition to another phase of life, like adolescence. During adolescence the body transforms from child to adult and is nature’s way of preparing the body to have children, to procreate. From an evolutionary perspective, adolescence prepares individuals to fulfill the necessity of ensuring that the human race thrives and doesn’t die. Menopause ends that child-bearing ability in a woman’s life. So when does this “change” happen?

According to the North American Menopause Society (NASM) in a 2014 Journal, menopause can be spontaneous, [usually as a result of a medical procedure such as hysterectomy], or natural. The average age of menopause is 52, but natural menopause can vary widely between the ages of 40 to 58. That’s an 18 year variation in the age a woman may enter natural menopause!

And…there’s also what’s called perimenopause, when estrogen levels decrease and get the whole process started and that could last up to 10 years.

Those answers also got me thinking about the purpose of menopause and why it happens at all. If “the change” is something that all women will experience, why does it seem like taboo and why does it seem so complicated?

Here’s one idea: Menopause is on the other end of procreation. It’s what happens to a woman’s body when she is done having children, when she is past that evolutionary role she plays in the promotion of the human race into the future, the next generation. So what’s at the other end of menopause; to what is a woman transitioning? Something that’s such a big deal in a woman’s life must serve some evolutionary purpose, fill some requirement to propel the human race forward. But what?

I had no idea that scientists have asked these same questions for years and there are many theories, including the “grandmother hypothesis” which theorizes that women live past child-bearing age to help care for grandchildren, thereby continuing her genes.

So what has any of this got to do with hot flashes, mood swings, fits of the blues, depression, forgetfulness, or night sweats? Not to mention changes in libido and all that goes along with that! What can be done about those annoying symptoms?

The standard recommendation is to consult with your Health Care Provider (HCP) for answers and treatment options.

My experience with HCPs varied. I had a hard time finding a doctor who listened to me and considered that I could be perimonopausal or even menopausal . Most doctors’ (I saw several) only solution was hormone therapy, which I used for a while but no longer wanted.

Menopause and the whole process of aging is as unique as each of us are and there are no easy answers for any of us. We have to figure it out as we go along, use our instincts, listen to our bodies, ask lots of questions, and know that there are things we can do to help ourselves.

A healthy lifestyle is important through all stages of life but especially important during this transitional time.  The big four factors are nutrition, exercise, stress-management, and attitude. I also discovered a high quality supplement that’s made a huge difference for me.

This road has been long, unmapped, and difficult at times, but I’m grateful for what I’ve learned and for what I continue to learn about “the change”.

I’d love to hear your comments about what you’ve learned through your transition to menopause.

6 Tips to Stay on Track Through the Holidays

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It’s the holiday season and another year comes racing to a close with plenty of sweets, food, and drink to go with it. If you’re trying to lose weight or just maintain a healthy weight, the availability of holiday treats and trimmings can make getting to January without any extra pounds a real challenge.

 Here are a few tips to help you ring in the new year without any extra weight.

1. Eat more veggies. Make a conscious effort to eat 2-3 more servings of vegetables than you’re eating right now. Raw or cooked, it doesn’t matter. Try vegetable soup, steamed vegetables, stir-fried, sautéed, roasted. Vegetables are high fiber and nutritious. Buy seasonal if you can and try something new to mix up your routine.

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Stay on track by eating more veggies.

2. Stash snacks. Have low glycemic snacks ready to eat before a party, buffet, or formal dinner. Snacking keeps you from being over-hungry and sets you up for making more thoughtful food choices. Some of my favorites are apple with raw almonds, apple slices with peanut butter (no added sugar), carrots and hummus, and Greek yogurt with grapes and pecan pieces.

3. Hydrate. Drinking plenty of water (8-12 glasses a day) will help keep everything flowing like it’s supposed to and will help you feel satisfied when eating low-glycemic, high fiber foods. Flavor your water with fruit like lemon or lime juice, orange slices, or other fruit for a little variety.

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

4. Survey the buffet. Buffets are common for holiday parties because they’re easy and give you so much variety. If possible, before picking up your plate, look over the buffet and do your best to make good choices. Avoid the fried stuff and stick with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and protein.

5. Be selective. If you decide you want dessert, no problem. Serve a little, enjoy it, and be done with it. Just don’t go crazy and act like you’ll never be able to eat dessert again in your life. I speak from experience when I say the weight you gain can end up staying with you way past that moment of deliciousness and it’s probably not worth it.

6. Stay focused on your goal. Even though it may be tough to pass up rich and decadent food when it’s right in front of you, going crazy with mindless eating and drinking that results in extra pounds on the scale or not being able to button your pants can be discouraging and even depressing. Keep your mental image of success clear and at the forefront of your mind.

Food is an important part of many celebrations but keep food in perspective. Be mindful about the many things that make this time of year so special: time with family and friends, giving generously, helping those in need, spiritual renewing, and much more. Enjoy those things and make your good health another thing to celebrate.