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March 24, 2009
Guest Post: Spring Cleaning on the Inside
Today's post comes courtesy of one of our favorite new blogs, The Tippy Toe Diet.The author, Cammy, learned that becoming healthy and losing weight comes with slow, gradual lifestyle changes. Here, she talks about the importance of checking in with yourself to reassess your life and your priorities.
Yesterday I continued with early spring cleaning by moving all the hard-to-get-to canned goods from my pantry to a bookshelf I put in the laundry room (more about that later in the week). As I was working, I was thinking ahead to more spring cleaning projects in the days ahead, and it occurred to me that my house isn't necessarily the only aspect of my life that could use a good scrubbing. What better time than spring to where I am in my life and sweep out any cobwebs or dust balls that might be cluttering things up. In the event you might benefit from the same, read on:
Spring Cleaning on the Inside
Think about your life (health, fitness, relationships, career, finance, etc.). Where are you now? Where do you want to be? Why aren't you there? Don't beat yourself up over it; just ponder the matter and see if any of these nasties have crept into your life:
Excuses: We're probably all guilty of making excuses for ourselves when we're trying to justify something we should or shouldn't have done. Surely, it's not just me. (Antidote: When you catch yourself making an excuse for something, ask, "Is this really true, or am I just making myself feel better?")
Rationalizations: Did you know that another way to spell "rationalize" is "rational lies"? These are the thoughts and words we use to give ourselves permission to do something we know is wrong. (Antidote: Unrelenting honesty with yourself. YOU know the truth about your efforts.)
Unfair Limitations: Many, perhaps even most, of the limitations we face are self-imposed. Why we would do this to ourselves, I don't know, but we do. (Antidote: Ask yourself, "If I didn't have xxx in my way, what would be by next step? Then figure out how you can do it--or some form of it--anyway.)
Regrets and Resentments: Writer Malachy McCourt once said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Holding on to past haunts and hurts prevents us from moving forward. (Antidote: Forgive yourself and any others involved, and focus on the future. At minimum, let it go.)
Procrastination: "Someday" thinking is fun for thinking about the lottery. For managing our lives, it doesn't work so well. (Antidote: See Makeover Monday: Getting It Done.)
RightThisMinute Thinking: We all want to see results fast. Whether it's successful weight loss, financial security, starting a family, or any host of other desires, many of us have a tendency to want to get it done rightthisveryminute. We should be applauded for our energy, but doing things too quickly can cause us to do them in a way that's unhealthy, inefficient, or ineffective. (Antidote: Patience. Focus on progress, not the goal line. Unless, you're looking at the goal line, of course, and then it's eyes on the prize time!)
These evil little habits have a way of creeping into our lives and derailing our progress. Join me this spring in spending a little time with a mental broom and dustpan, eliminating this clutter from our lives. Note that I didn't say we'd eliminate it for good. Old habits die hard, as the saying goes, and I'm sure we'll all face these pesky demons again at some time in the future. We're savvy enough to know that and strong enough to defeat them.
Photo by takomabibelot via flickr.
March 23, 2009
Spring into Shape: Our Diabetes and Mother's Day Program Deals
Spring is a time to celebrate renewal and hope…just what Green Mountain is all about! There's a lot happening these days and we wanted to mention few of the special programs and offers we have going on this spring.
Join us April 19–25 for Living Well™ with Type 2 Diabetes, a residential program featuring faculty from the world-renowned Joslin Diabetes Center, affiliated with Harvard Medical School in Boston. The week-long program will be offered at Green Mountain at Fox Run to introduce women with type 2 diabetes to an integrated lifestyle and mind/body approach to mastering the disease. Book by April 3rd and get a $500 discount.
Book our special "Spring into Shape" offer by April 15th for any stay through May 2nd and receive our value season rates and a room upgrade.
We've got the perfect Mother's Day gift for you! May is Mother-Daughter-Sister month at Green Mountain, and participants in this family-focused program receive a ten percent discount. Together, you can re-frame your attitudes about weight and healthy eating and become mindful again.
Photo by Per Ola Wiberg via flickr.
March 20, 2009
In Pursuit of a Healthy Weight: One Woman's Green Mountain Experience
Today's post comes from Beverly Dame of Lyndonville, Vermont. After staying at Green Mountain at Fox Run for a week, she wrote a letter to friends and family to explain her experience with our program. We're sharing parts of it here to give women an idea the kind of changes that they can expect when they begin to make themselves a priority. Thanks for sharing, Beverly!
It has been almost a week since I came home from my week at Green Mountain at Fox Run. It was such a wonderful experience (life-changing, paradigm-shifting, revelatory) that I want to write about it. Women come from all over the country and the world to stay at Green Mountain. Honolulu, Hawaii; Chicago, Illinois; Alexandria, Virginia; Kingston, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; northern Georgia; Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York; New Haven and New Canaan, Connecticut; and Croatia all had women there. Young women in their 20s and women like me in their 60s and in between. All had been dealing with food and body issues for most of their lives. Some like me were staying for one week; many for two and a few lucky ones for a month or more. What we came for was a comprehensive way of dealing with the size and shape of our bodies. Notice, I’m avoiding the use of the word “weight.”
At Green Mountain it is about mindfulness: being aware and in the moment as we confront choices about food, exercise and responses to all the stresses of daily life. The week combined classes and discussion groups with exercise opportunities. Women who are in their first week have “required” classes including: fitness soul search: the return to intrinsic movement; are you ready for change? Introduction to the behavior component and to mindfulness; the principles of mindful eating; redefining healthy eating; and understanding the emotions that lead you to eat.
I was most impressed by the time and attention the program and staff devoted to sending each one of us home with the materials and support to put all we learned into daily practice. Including the idea that as far as exercise and mindful eating goes, “Something is better than nothing,” and “there will be days.”
We identified the energizing people in our lives and the energy-drainers and talked about how to deal with them. I came up with strategies for dealing with dreaded cocktail parties. I paid for an extra session with the fitness director. We put together a weekly plan combining weight training and cardio.
I also came away with human support. There were six of us of about the same age who formed a group that I loosely dub the “Green Mountain Girls.” Sorry Ethan Allen. We’re emailing each other with support and understanding. Staff encourage us to stay in touch with questions. I’m to check in with my fitness guru at the end of the week after we return from France. She also gave me hints and suggestions for working out while traveling even if the hotel doesn’t have a gym.
Before going I would weigh myself every day; how demoralizing, depressing and defeatist. I’m working on unlearning that habit. Told myself this morning that I could get on the scale but why? I’ve been exercising every day, working on eating more slowly, and having a balanced snack in the afternoon to keep from getting too hungry. And I did well at two eating out occasions this week. All of that is really more important for my long-term health and success than a number on a scale.
How is Beverly doing today, about one month after returning home from Green Mountain?
"I'm trying to stay off the scale. Hard, hard, hard. I know there's a lot of psychological baggage going on with wanting to weigh myself every day.
I think the hardest thing to is being in charge of my eating. I do the cooking and have been trying new healthful things (actually had bison burgers last night) but I can feel that my speed of eating has increased. Need to start putting down that fork or spoon between bites.
And my husband and I need to set a time for an evening meal. He's a chaotic eater and I'm a dieter. Not a match made in Green Mountain heaven. Of course, tonight there is a business dinner which always is a challenge.
The one thing that is much better is that I've stopped beating up on myself for my size and weight. Actually, I'm finding out that there is more to life.
March 16, 2009
Treat Yourself to the Right Bra
While many women wear a compression or "short top" bra for physical activity, the bra experts at Intimacy recommend a medium to high impact bra with seams, shape and cup-depth like the La Breeza Sports bra for most physical activities and sports. Many fuller-busted women tend to try to wear minimizer or compression bras that may not offer enough support, especially for higher impact activities. Consult this primer on choosing a sports bra from the Women's Sports Medicine Center.
Make sure the back band is snug. The back band should provide 90% of a bra’s support while the straps should only provide 10 percent.
Check out Intimacy's Top 10 Bra Mistakes. It may surprise you to learn that you're wearing the wrong cup size.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Don't blame yourself for an ill-fitting bra. "The truth is that every woman blames her own body for the fit problems she has," writes Susan Nethero at Intimacy. A bra should be tailored to your body, not the other way around. Don't let embarrassment self-blame or stop you from finding the right bra.
Other bra resources:
Photo by tracyhunter on flickr.
February 25, 2009
Is Breakfast a Must for Healthy Eating?
My 17-year-old son is finally showing a glimmer of interest in healthy eating. And just because he's male doesn't mean he's immune to the diet mentality. Given our society's obsession with weight, the potential is great for the diet mentality to lurk behind even the most innocent-seeming question about what or how we eat. So when he asks questions like the one above, I always look at it from a dieter's perspective.
If you look at it from a dietitian's perspective, it's clear. Studies show breakfast is an important meal; it gives us energy to get through the morning, and we're not distracted by hunger. Ever try to really focus on something when your stomach is calling? It's almost impossible.
But from a real-life perspective, eating breakfast depends on two things: 1) Are we hungry? and 2) Can we tell if we're hungry (and if we can, do we care)?
Using Hunger as a Guide
The real life of a 17-year-old male is worth exploring in answering whether we're hungry. (No, I won't go into the details. :-)). I'm talking about the fact that many teenagers stay awake into the wee hours, and get up past noon. My son is definitely one of those. So when he goes to bed at 2 am, and isn't hungry when he has to get up early the next day, I don't push it. He probably ate within a few hours of going to sleep, and he really isn't ready for another meal yet. I am confident about this because I know he is clear when he is hungry and needs food. I'm also confident that he usually eats when he is hungry, unless it's not possible at the moment. If he's going to be in a situation where he won't have access to food, I might push him to take something with him.
With the diet mentality, though, whether we eat breakfast or not usually isn't about hunger. Indeed, many weight strugglers can no longer even tell when they're hungry and when they're not. Instead, dieters are all about trying to eat as little as they can, regardless of hunger. The different complications of this approach to eating are numerous, but have a common outcome. We end up with distorted eating patterns and behaviors that don't get us where we want to go.
So bottom line re breakfast: If the reason we're not eating it is to control our weight, we're probably better off trying to get something down within a few hours of waking.
The rest of us can rely on our hunger cues. They really are trustworthy. And we can trust that they'll generally drive us to get something down within a few hours of waking, whether we wake at 6 am or the middle of the afternoon.
What about you? Do you rely on your hunger cues, and eat breakfast when they tell you to, or does a schedule for eating breakfast -- and other meals -- work best for you? If the latter is true, why do you think that is so?
February 24, 2009
Healthy Eating: Flippity-Flop the Potassium and Salt
Cindy's taking some rare time down the first part of this week, but faithfully left this look at what we eat for me to post in her stead. Enjoy that massage, girl!
On average, Americans eat twice as much sodium (salt) as potassium, just too darn much of the stuff -- and much of it unknowingly. Since convenience is king, most Americans still buy lots of processed foods which contain oodles of sodium. If you're leaving the grocery store with most of your goodies in a can or box, it's highly likely you're consuming much more than the 2300 milligrams of sodium recommended by The American Dietetic Association.
The truth is, salt makes food taste better -- so what's a salt-lover to do?
Findings from a new study at Loyola University Chicago provide interesting insight into the intriguing and ever-sexy world of dietary minerals. Turns out encouraging a more intimate relationship between potassium and sodium may have some really important heart health benefits.
"Potassium and sodium are like peas in a pod, except they're in opposite pods," says epidemiologist Paul Whelton, president and chief executive of the Loyola University Health System in Chicago and one of the authors of the study. "This is the first study to show that the two together give you a benefit over and above what you can get with either one."
Healthy eating might mean simply consuming half as much sodium as potassium. The recommended daily intake of potassium is around 4,700 mg -- twice as much as sodium. But researchers speculate that more potassium may even 'soften the blow' of higher amounts of sodium. What are good sources of potassium? Fruits (especially dried fruits like apricots, raisins and dates), avocados, nuts, beans, potatoes (both white and sweet) and brightly-colored vegetables.
We read and review lots of studies here at A Weight Lifted, and more often than not, it comes back to what your grandma told your momma, and hopefully your momma told you , "Eat your fruits and vegetables, eat fresh, and use salt to taste -- preferably from your own hand."
February 18, 2009
Healthy Eating: Does It Help to Slow Down When We Eat?
At Green Mountain, we’re not proponents of strategies to artificially reduce the amount of food we eat, to try to fool our bodies that we’ve had enough. They don’t work. Our bodies know when we need more food. Even when we try to trick it, the hunger drive wins the vast majority of the time.
It’s not our fault we don’t understand that. We’ve been taught that we can ‘control’ our hunger, but the long-term success of most diets proves that wrong. The good news is many of us have woken up to the fact that our bodies are in charge; we can only listen and respond intelligently if we want to support our best health and healthy weight. ‘Artificial’ strategies just continue to drive us away from reconnecting with our internal wisdom, which is what really works for women's weight loss and healthy living.
So when I read a study conducted at the University of Rhode Island and published in the Journal of The American Dietetic Association that showed eating slowly did, in fact, reduce calorie intake, I was skeptical that it was just another investigation into ‘ways that help us cut calories.” I did not have high hopes that it was about feeding ourselves in a manner that makes us feel well (a better bet for healthy weight loss, if it's in our cards, and healthy weights).
But I was wrong. This study offered some potentially good insight into the practice of feeding ourselves well.
The study looked at whether we could be satisfied with less, even when faced with plenty, simply by slowing down. It wasn’t about trying to restrict, or somehow control what the women who were being studied ate. The women ate as much as they wanted of identical meals twice, once quickly and once more slowly, in random order.
• The average length of meals was 21 minutes longer when the women ate slowly. The results of which support the idea that it takes about 20 minutes for our bodies to start getting the signals that help us know when we’ve eaten enough before we’ve eaten too much.
• The women who ate quickly ate more calories. No surprise there.
• The women who ate quickly reported lower satiety (translated: I’ve had enough) ratings, even though they ate more calories. That’s kinda surprising.
• The women who ate more slowly drank significantly more water during the meal. So does that mean water was responsible for feeling more satisfied with less? Don’t know, except that other studies don’t all show that, nor do they all show that drinking more water reduces caloric intake at a meal. Plus, if we’re drinking water to try to make us eat less, we’re toying with artificial strategies. If we truly need more fluid, drinking plenty is a healthy thing to do. If we don’t, and we’re drinking to fill ourselves up with calorie-free stuff, then it’s a diet technique, a strategy to artificially control our hunger. (See beginning of this post.)
• At meal’s end, those who ate more slowly rated their meal as more palatable (although difference wasn’t statistically significant). Could it be that eating slowly gives us more time to enjoy our food? Go, mindful eating! (Although at least one study showed those who ate faster gave their meals higher taste ratings. Must have been something wrong with the study. I admit I’m biased.)
• Small bites, pauses between bites and thorough chewing ‘resulted in considerably decreased eating rate.’ Some studies show the same thing; others don’t. The best statement about one that showed the strategy didn’t work: “The authors suggested that timed pauses during meals are frustrating and that increased intake reflects the subjects’ frustration.” Ha.
• This study was done on only 30 women. A small number, plus the researchers question if men would react the same way. But we know the answer to that, don’t we? ☺
Bottom line, we don’t know if the findings of this study are relevant to all of us. And that leaves us where we often find ourselves – relying on our own reactions to tell us whether something is right for us as individuals.
Of course, that’s what mindful eating is all about. Tuning in to find out what feels good and what doesn’t. And slowing down – at least initially – can help us tune in, especially if we’re fast eaters to begin with (and many of us are). We can find out what feels good pretty easily by ourselves, I think, if we give ourselves the chance. The bonus: We get to enjoy our meals longer.
Try slowing down while you eat. Then let us know if it helps you eat less and enjoy it more, not necessarily to lose weight but to feel better!
February 17, 2009
Healthy Living: Blah, blah, blah, blog...
Admittedly, not every day is a blogerific day. In fact, some days it is really challenging to find something interesting to write about – but we try. (Somehow, I still manage to have an opinion about practically everything).
Here’s what’s on the healthy lifestyle news breakfast buffet this morning:
1. Multi-vitamins don’t do a damn bit of good. Marsha?! Is that true? Help us!! We’ve all been swallowing horse pills of every shape, size, and formulation for the past (fill in the blank) years and now we're being told to no avail? (I think you’re going to tell us to eat our vegetables, but I’ll leave that up to you).
2. Big bellies are a headache. Really? No kidding! Seriously, what next?
3. Starbucks may be giving middle management a stroke this past month, but not consumers! And I was feeling guilty about my two gigantor mugs of Starbucks French Roast every morning...
February 13, 2009
Healthy Lifestyles: When Your Sweetie Doesn't Sweat
As you can see from our posts this week, love is in the air these days. But relationships are always a tricky combination of contradiction and compromise. How can they affect our motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle? A recent article in the New York Examiner got me thinking about how a significant other can influence our fitness goals. Maybe you go running together and keep each other on track. On the other hand, maybe your partner doesn't exercise much or is always bringing junk food into the house.
Next, "how about focusing on the positive ways partnerships can help you on your way to successful weight loss," writes Examiner dietician Nicole Anziani. "In terms of exercise, this can be a fun way to spark up your relationship." And there are plenty of ways to get fit as a couple other than rocking the treadmill side by side, romantic as it sounds. Anziani suggests dance classes, a walk with the dog or taking up a team sport.
If you have different fitness routines or your partner is still a couch potato, workout with a friend or take it as your alone time to unwind. Just be sure to make it clear to your significant other that physical activity is a priority for you and you'll need their support to stay healthy.
See also: Jane Black's fascinating article about couples with different eating habits in the Washington Post.
Photo by banalities via flickr.
February 04, 2009
Healthy Lifestyles: Staying Motivated to Move
I thought I'd entertain myself today and put up on our blog the first version of the FitBriefing Putting the Pizzazz Back into Your Exercise Routine that we posted this week on our women's healthy weight loss website. Hope some of you enjoy (or even recognize) my attempts at humor.
It happens to the best of us. One day, we’re lovin’ our physical activity routine; the next, frankly, we’re bored, bored, bored. If we have to do that again (whatever that is), we’d rather not do anything at all. What’s a fool for fitness to do?
Go to the pros. Yeah, we know you’re good, but not that good. We mean go check out instructors and personal trainers at the local health club. You’ll see them revamping cardio on the treadmill or elliptical with five minutes at a steady pace, bumped up for the next five to a challengingly intense level, then bringing it back down again. Besides mixing it up, cardio interval training increases cardiovascular endurance, too.
Or, they’re handing out Power Bars (no, not those; the weight lifting kind) and/or resistance tubing. Bonus: More creativity in movements and more flexibility (ok, we know they’re rubber tubing; we mean you can adjust the degree of resistance just by moving your feet on the band wider or closer together.)
They’re shaking their booty a lot, too. Kickboxing’s still fun, but sassy dance classes like Hip Hop Funk or Salsa Step get your hips moving like they haven’t since, well, Saturday night. Do you work up a sweat? Remember Saturday night?
Go Jane. You know, Jane Fonda – the technology queen. (No, we’re not stuck back in the 80s, just couldn’t think of any other way to creatively turn the subject to technology. Jane was basically responsible for taking exercise videos, the technology of that time, mainstream. This is sad having to explain all this. I obviously need to think of another segue.)
All that is lead-up to the fact that there’s a whole new world waiting for us if we’re on to today’s technology. Like iPods – from tiny ones you barely know are there to ones with touchpads that offer all kinds of extras — that put the beat back into working out. Jam out to your favorite sounds by building playlists of warm-up, high-intensity and cool-down tunes. Or, if you’re like me, you use them to listen books on tapes while exercising (maybe doesn’t sound very exciting but, hey, I like books a lot).
Nike+ shoes, along with the Nike + iPod Sport Kit or Sensor, tracks your runs to tell you time, distance, pace and calories burned (but you can forget that last part. We don’t count calories – either eaten or burned – at Green Mountain). Also gives you that feedback both halfway and in the final approach to your goal. (That sounds so focused; it was obviously written by someone who puts songs in her iPod instead of audiobooks. I forgot to mention that Jennifer on our fitness staff provided the meat for this post.) Then, ta da, you can even load the details into your computer! So? You can throw away that old exercise journal, that one over there in the corner. See it? The one all covered with dust.
Save money, too!
No, that wasn’t a ploy for your attention. You really can save money by turning to YouTube to try different forms of exercise without a financial commitment. YouTube is full of short ‘videos’ of aerobic or strength classes. They’re not all worth watching, though; some give incorrect advice. Look for those produced by a certified fitness professional.
The options are many for mixing it up to keep the fun in physical activity to reach your fitness and health goals. Try something new today!