I’m not an expert, but I am reasonably educated on the topic of nutrition. I took a two-semester college course on clinical nutrition and a semester on the psychology of change. No, I do not have a degree. But I can tell you that most of what we hear every day about losing weight is a load of crap. It can be a real challenge to sift out the accurate information.
I’ve blogged in more detail about this before, but I lost 70 pounds back in 2006, and I maintained a healthy weight and active lifestyle for 5 years. When my mom got sick with cancer and then died, I became very sedentary, and put on 80 pounds. I needed to take that time to wallow through my initial grief, so I did. I also had regular physical therapy to get over an injury. But by the end of last year, I was finally back in a place both physically and emotionally to resume a healthy lifestyle. In the last 14 weeks, I’ve averaged a 2-pound per week loss, and 20 minutes/ 5 days a week exercise. Posting my weekly progress on Google+ is my way of staying accountable, and if it’s an inspiration to others, that makes me happy.
A big issue I have is that a lot of the information out there, even from supposed experts, can actually discourage exercising. Someone who already has a full schedule and feels tired all the time is not going to be motivated by being told she has to do an hour of cardio every day if she wants to lose weight. The other thing that can be a put-off is not understanding that the heavier one is, the more calories get burned while exercising. For someone with a lot of weight to lose, putting in the huge effort to exercise for 10 or 20 minutes, and then thinking they’ve only burned 100 calories, can be a real motivation killer. I’ve had generic calorie burn estimators tell me 120 calories burned from my workout, but then when I use a tracker that takes into account my weight, age, and intensity, I actually burned three times that much.
Another problem, especially with women, is not eating enough, and not having a balanced nutrient intake. Even when losing weight, it’s important to properly fuel one’s body. I have heard ads for diet products that tell women to use their product and stick to a 1200 calorie per day diet to lose weight. Well of course they are going to lose weight! 1200 calories a day isn’t enough to meet the basic energy requirements of a 5’6″ sedentary 25-year old woman who weighs 120 pounds. What rarely gets explained is the difference between weight loss and fat loss. The only way to effectively lose fat is to combine a balanced, adequate diet with some kind of consistent exercise. Otherwise weight loss is body tissue and fluids, and when the person stops following the restricted diet, they put the weight back on in fat. This creates the diet yo-yo and a “thin obese” condition where the person might get thin, but their percentage of body fat is that of an obese person.
In summary: Find your motivation, make a plan, be reasonable in setting your goals and expectations, eat adequately, and be consistent with exercise, even if it’s only 10 minutes a day. And tracking your food and activity, especially when first starting into a new lifestyle routine, will really help you stick to it.
Quick review – back in 2006 I lost 70 pounds, and I was successful at maintaining a healthy weight for 5 years. I thought I had it licked, that I’d never see those pounds on the scale again.
Fast forward to 2011. My mom was in her 2nd year of battling cancer, and I was flying back and forth between Colorado and Florida every couple of months. My time was so stretched, I also stopped coaching that year. Summer 2012, Mom was in the last stretch of her fight, and I was there to help my dad take care of her. For three months, I barely stepped foot outside their house. After she died and I came back home, it was winter, and I was working through my grief. I had packed on some pounds through the ordeal, and I had zero motivation to exercise.
After a few months, I got a little gumption back, and started to work out with a trainer. But I was unaware of some degeneration in my neck until our 3rd week of workouts, when my legs suddenly went right out from under me on the step machine, and my arms became tingly and numb. That brought my workouts to an immediate halt, to be replaced by physical therapy sessions. That was in March 2013.
At that point, I wallowed for awhile. I pretty much completely stopped paying attention to what I ate, and didn’t exercise at all. And over the next 10 months I gained back all of the weight I had worked so hard to get rid of back in 2006, plus some.
We spread Mom’s ashes in September, and October was the one-year anniversary of her dying. I had a few months there that were pretty dark. In November, I got sick with a chest cold that just hung on and on. Going out in the cold air would trigger coughing fits, so for three weeks I was housebound. I deep cleaned my house, moved the furniture around, and loaded up a truckload of things for the thrift store. I think the physical act of clearing out my environment helped clear the mental fog as well. The last week of December I felt suddenly energized and ready to plan out my strategy to get back into shape.
Fortunately, the physical therapy is working, and at least for now I have escaped the need for surgery. The numbness in my arms is gone, with just some residual weakness in my hands. But I still can’t trust my legs not to switch off if I’m exerting myself. Thus, the recumbent bike, instead of the daily hikes I used to take, mixed in with some work with a fitball and free weights. I have my nutrition and exercise plan all worked out, and I engaged my husband’s support by doing a challenge with him to see which of us will lose the most by May 1.
I am posting daily updates to my Google+ page to stay accountable, and reporting the results of my weekly weigh-ins on Sundays.
Change takes the right frame of mind – a person has to be ready to commit, then plan and prepare, and get the needed support. I’ve laid the groundwork, and I’m confident that I will succeed!
It turns out that our bodies are pretty smart. When we eat, our body gets ready to receive lots of fuel. We think we’re fooling it by eating something that is artificially sweetened and low-calorie. But we’re not. It can tell that it’s not getting the amount of fuel that it anticipated. So what happens? Our whole balance between the feelings of hunger and fullness get messed up. Powerful chemicals flood our brain and body, making us want to eat more and move less. And the more our body slows us down, the more of what we eat it puts into fat storage.
Always hungry? Always tired? Then forget the empty calorie non-foods. Give yourself some real fuel!
Lunch Suggestion: A whole-grain wrap smeared with smashed up avocado, sprinkled with salt & pepper. Add some meat shreds or slices, and whatever veggies you want – lettuce, tomato, broccoli, shredded carrot, sprouts, and some sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, or walnut crumbles – roll it up and enjoy. Or make it vegan by using legumes instead of meat – garbanzos, kidney beans, etc, smash them up with the avocado to make a spread. Not enough? Have two! *GASP!*
Yes, I just gave you permission to actually eat. Real food. You must have enough good fuel. Because the next step in breaking the cycle of always hungry / always tired is to get moving. Enough good fuel and exercise are what will break your body out of the phantom calorie paradox, and reset your natural feelings of hunger and fullness.
This is a reprint from the Breast Health Awareness Group. If you’ve followed me for some time, you know I strongly support breast thermography for women, and have made the personal choice to replace cancer detection (mammograms) with cancer prevention. My mom is fighting Stage 4 breast cancer, so this is something very close to my heart.
You likely know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. But rather than become more aware of breast cancer, why not become more aware of breast health… or breast cancer prevention?
Although mammography is referred to as the “gold standard” for breast cancer screening, breast thermography is becoming more commonplace, with Dr. Christiane Northrup referring to it as “The Best Breast Test” in part because of its ability to “detect breast cell anomalies long before mammography can detect cancer” (Click here to see the article.)
But any test that looks for cancer is an “after the fact” test: cancer has already developed. Women know that early detection saves lives, the premise of October’s Pink Ribbon campaign, but women don’t want to detect breast cancer: they want to prevent it. They need a “before the fact” test.
Enter Risk Assessing Thermal Imaging (RATI). It is an advanced form of thermography available in Colorado through The Thermogram Center, Inc. RATI helps women to visualize inflammation in the breasts due to potential risk factors for breast cancer such as lymphatic congestion, systemic inflammation, and/or excess estrogen stimulation.
When risk factors are suspect, risk factor management can ensue with educational support and professional healthcare guidance. The Thermogram Center offers risk factor education by way of the book, “Better Breast Health – for Life!™. It covers 35 risk factors with strategies typically involving modifications to diet, lifestyle, stress management and detoxification, which are recommended under the guidance of qualified functional healthcare providers in the local community.
According to Tirza Derflinger, imaging technician for The Thermogram Center, “Nearly 80% of women who follow their initial RATI session with risk reduction strategies see a decrease in inflammation and the thermal findings associated with breast cancer risk in their subsequent RATI session.”
Is a woman’s breast cancer risk factor identification, education, and management her best offense towards prevention? The potential is certainly encouraging and counter to the myth that women are powerless… just waiting to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
For more information on “Better Breast Health – for Life!™ or RATI in Colorado, visit www.ThermogramCenter.com or call 303-664-1139.
*** Enrolling Your Doctor’s Support
Each breast client is offered the handout , “Communicating with Your Doctor” to enroll her doctor’s support for safe screening via thermograms and ultrasounds. This handout also provides the diagnostic code needed by her local doctor to order an ultrasound, if warranted.