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March 31, 2008

Weight Loss: The Media's Excrutiating Scrutiny of Carnie Wilson

Front CoverTabloids and TV entertainment 'news' shows delight in following female celebrity weight gains.  They find the most unflattering photos of the poor woman and 'expose' her 'shocking' poundage. Victims of this tactic have been Tyra Banks, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and most recently, Carnie Wilson.

"It is very hard being in the public eye, being scrutinized for every pound," Carnie tells Us Magazine, slamming the National Enquirer for reporting that she needs another weight loss surgery. "They're saying I'm going to have liposuction, another gastric bypass to have a baby," she went on. "It's laughable."

In the past, Carnie Wilson has publicly shared her personal story about her weight loss struggles in her book Gut Feelings: From Fear and Despair to Health and Hope. She writes about her lifelong struggle with weight and her eventual decision to undergo a gastric bypass.

Nine years ago, after the surgery, Carnie lost roughly 150 pounds in 16 months. With the weight loss, Carnie was the toast of the town, and the press loved interviewing her about her weight loss success.

Now that she's gained weight after a PREGNANCY - for goodness sake - she is now a target for tabloid derision. 

Who's to Blame?

Tabloids, magazines, and newspaper say that the public is to blame for these stories, because we buy the trash they print.  To some extent that is true, but the media doesn't simply reflect society's unrealistic and unhealthy attitude towards weight loss and weight gain - it perpetuates it. 

This kind of media attention - flattering or unflattering - is exploitive of the celebrity and only serves to reinforce the public's obsession about weight.  The underlying message in all this?  Your self-worth is dependent on how much weight you can lose and keep off. And guess what, ladies, you'll be unforgiven for gaining all that pregnancy weight, so you'd better lose it quick!

Gastric Bypass Pitfalls

Overlooked in all this weight loss/weight gain hype is a common misconception about gastric bypass surgery.  It's not a guarantee for permanent weight loss.

"A gastric bypass patient needs follow rules," Wilson said. "I fell off the bandwagon when I was pregnant... my eating habits changed. For me, it was about snacking," she added. "Somebody can consume a certain amount of calories, and if they don't burn the calories, that equals weight gain."

In 2005, Carnie gave birth to a baby girl named Lola, and the singer/author hopes to have another child in the near future.  She is now in the process of losing the baby weight with healthy eating and exercise.

"I am committed to this, to my health, whether I am 300 or 200 or 150 [pounds]...I am committed to my daughter. I want to be a light of hope for her," she added. "[I'm not saying] you need to be a size 6 ... you need to be healthy. That is the message I want to give to her."

Unfortunately, that's not the kind of message that sells tabloids.

Posted by Laura on March 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2008

Diabetes: Increased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes in Latinos Who Adopt U.S. Eating Habits

In an article from Diabetes News, new research suggests that Latinos who forego traditional foods to adopt American eating habits are putting themselves at risk for type 2 diabetes.  Latinos already dianosed with type 2 diabetes have more difficulty than other ethnic groups in controlling their disease and "acculturation" to typically unheathy eating habits makes managing diabetes even harder, the study suggests.

"Diabetes is a substantial and growing problem in the Latino community and diabetes self-management and an appropriate lifestyle are key components to managing diabetes," says Mainous. "The adoption of typical US eating habits is inconsistent with healthy eating."

Lead researcher, Dr. Arch G. Mainous from Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston reviewed data from a nation-wide sample of Latinos.  He and his colleagues determined that "Latinos who were more acculturated were less likely to have diets high in fiber (roughly 9 percent vs. 35 percent) and lower in saturated fat (17 vs. 46 percent) than their less-acculturated peers." However, on a positive note, some Latinos were also more likely to be more physically active. It's important to note that type 2 diabetes prevention is more than just diabetes and weight loss.

The study results were published in the March/April 2008 edition of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Posted by Laura on March 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 27, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Kasha Vegetable Pilaf

In Slavic countries, kasha or (porridge) can be made from any cereal, especially buckwheat, wheat, oats, and rye; buckwheat, in particular, has plenty of protein, B vitamins, and is rich in phosphorus, potassium, iron and calcium. At least 1,000 years old, it is one of the oldest known dishes in Eastern European cuisine, and it's a great addition to a long range of delicious whole grain foods and excellent way to enjoy health eating. Kasha has it's own nutty flavor and texture, and because it's a high fiber food, a little goes a long way to satisfy.

1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (optional ingredient or use as a garnish)
1 1/2 cups dry kasha
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional substitution: one can of corn niblets)

If you're doing the onion garnish: in a small skillet, heat oil and saute onion until it turns medium brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place kasha in an ungreased skilled over medium-low heat, and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until the kasha becomes slightly darker. Add the beaten egg and stir quickly to coat the grains. Immediately add boiling water but do not stir. Add vegetables on top. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, kasha is puffy, and sweet potato is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle sauteed onions on top, if you want them. (It's suggested that you can also add the raw onions to the kasha along with the other vegetables instead of sauteeing them.)

Today's healthy recipe is from Dewey's Treehouse, a member of the Carnival of the Recipes.

Posted by Laura on March 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2008

When Is a Diet Not a Diet?

My colleagues on this blog may have already posted on this -- I know we've personally talked about it a few times before -- but regardless, I feel the need to post now. Everywhere I look it seems I see Weight Watchers' new ad that says they are not a diet! What a disservice! Any program that has you counting points, calories, grams or even watching your weight in relation to what you eat is a diet!!!

Karin Kratina, a consultant for our program at Green Mountain, may have said it best on her great site Nourishing Connections:

...is the diet industry simply promoting a diet in disguise? To decide, ask yourself, “Does this program promote looking outside of my body’s wisdom and signals to determine how much and what I should eat?” If the answer even hints of “yes,” then it is still a diet.

Staying true to yourself and your body's wisdom when the diet industry bombards you with messages about what, how, when and where you should eat, how you should exercise, how you should manage emotional eating, etc., etc., etc....well, it's difficult, to say the least. But notice a theme here? Notice the word 'should'? Change it to 'want' and you're getting somewhere.

We've talked about intrinsic fitness motivation before, and I encourage you to go back and review. Mindful eating is the same; it implies that we are eating according to internally-directed desires. When it comes to whether a diet is a diet or not, that's the bottom line. If we're having to depend on external things like points or whatever it is a diet has you count, instead of following the internal cues that guide us, then we're dieting, no matter what the ads say.

Posted by Marsha on March 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 25, 2008

Healthy Eating - Ten Best Tips For Managing Food Cravings

570270_ice_cream_2Most women who participate in the healthy weight management program at Green Mountain at Fox Run, confess they struggle with managing food cravings. When you're in the midst of a food craving cycle, the idea of creating a healthy eating plan seems more like someone taking away your emotional blankie than a good idea. "What about my ice cream, potato chips, pasta, chocolate...(fill in the blank)..?"

To help you adopt a healthy eating plan that includes the foods you crave, try these 10 Green Mountain Tips:

1. Think "management" instead of "control." "Control" implies an adversarial relationship with food; it's gnerally a constant struggle to maintain control. "Management" is much easier. When we manage something, we work with it to achieve our desired results.

2. Eat at least three well-balanced meals a day. Don't skip meals! You'll only be hungrier for the next one. It's a normal physiological reaction to crave food if you're hungry.

3. Give up guilt. One brownie never made anyone fat, but your attitude about eating brownies or any foods you consider forbidden can make you fat. Believing you have 'cheated' on your diet, and therefore having ruined your chances of success, will produce feelings of failure and guilt. Allow yourself your favorite foods in moderation, without guilt.

4. Accept food cravings as a normal part of living in a food-oriented society.  Everyone experiences food cravings, regardless of whether they struggle with their weight. The more you understand cravings, the more manageable they become. Food cravings can be caused by physical cues and emotional cues. Although you cannot necessarily emliminate all cravings, you can manage your reation.

5. Look at cravings as suggestions to eat, not commands to onverindulge. Overeating does not have to be an automatic response to craving. Take charge. When a craving begins, determine how you want to deal with it.

6. Believe that cravings will pass. Researchers have found that people believe a craving will continue to intensifiy until they give into it. In truth, a craving is similar to a wave in the ocean. It grows in intensity, peaks and then subsides if you don't give into it. The more you practice riding the wave, the easier it will become.

7. Disarm your cravings with the 5 D's.

Delay - at least 10-15 mintues before you eat.

Distract - yourself by engaging in an activity that requires concentration and is not compatible with eating.

Distance - yourself from food - leave the room, ask the waiter to remove your plate, take steps (literally) to get yourself in a non-food environment

Determine - how important it is to eat the craved food and how much you really want it.

Decide - what amount is reasonable and appropriate to start with. Eat it mindfully and enjoy!

8. Stop labeling foods as 'bad', 'illegal' or 'forbidden. It's not the food. It's the manner i which you may consume it and how often you consume it. You can eat some of anything you want - even if it is high in fat, calories, sugar or salt - but if you want to reach your healthy fitness goals, you may not be able to eat all of what you think you want

9. Aim for moderation instead of abstinence.  Avoiding things you fear only reinforce your fear. If you think you can never eat certain foods again, you may feel driven to eat as much as you can whenever you can. Explore what you really want. Is it really food? Or do you want well-being too.

10. Exercise regularly. Exercise is the key to managing food cravings. Rather than burn calories, one of the most important contributions of regular exercis is a relief from tension and stress. It is also a very healthy way to delay, distract and distance yourself from food.

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Posted by Cindy on March 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2008

Weighing In: Spring Break Weight Loss Panic

In researching today's blog post, I've come across some unsettling comments and articles about the intense pressure young women feel when spring break or 'bikini season' comes around. 

For example, there was a disturbing response on Yahoo Answers to the following question: "I want to lose weight over spring break (about 10 days)...What's a daily routine I should do everyday as far as when to eat and when to exercise and which exercises?"  The answer: "Binge, purge, binge, purge." 

There were other healthy and sensible answers, of course, but this cynical response is a scary reminder of how the annual 'spring break' or 'bikini season' pressure on women to lose weight has not only become part of American culture but also the impetus for unhealthy diets and even eating disorders.

"Spring break is one of the most dangerous times of the year for young women struggling with their weight," said Liz Lagasse, a nutritionist specializing in eating disorders at GatorWell Health Promotion Services at the University of Florida.

Marili Rivera, a 2006 Florida State University graduate, described the pre-spring-break ritual scene in her sorority house as an extreme weight-loss competition.

"We all wanted to look hot in our bikinis, and the rush to lose weight was almost contagious," she said.

Unhealthy fad diets like Kimkins, group dieting, and extreme weight loss or pro-ana sites (read Is Your Child Inspired by Thin) may actually promote eating disorders which can result in lifelong mental and physical problems for women. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) "as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia" in the United States.

Individuals and Families Make a Difference

NEDA's site stresses that "real people - individuals and families - are the strongest advocates" for increasing public awareness, access to treatment, and funding for research to help change our thin-obsessed culture.

As our previous post 'A Time of Change' points out, "Spring represents change at its best -- a time of growth, a time of awakening, a time to celebrate." With the Easter holiday and upcoming Passover, we are reminded of how important family support is for all of us to either make healthy lifestyle changes or to help others do the same.

Posted by Laura on March 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2008

Weight Loss: Results Not Typical

While watching TV last night, I was bombarded with the usual weight loss programs and weight loss product ads.  In each different commercial, during the parade of before and after photos, a common theme emerges: the disclaimer of 'results not typical.'

Three Little Words

There's a big message in those three little words, which are barely readable in its tiny print at the bottom of the screen:  odds are you won't lose weight! So how did those lucky few significantly reduced people do it?  Well, there's another hint in the fine print: "product should be used in conjunction with exercise and a healthy diet." 

There's No Getting Around It: Exercise and Healthy Eating

In a thought-provoking blog post from "Things I Learned the Hard Way," Sandra Dalka-Prysby writes:

When I embarked on my weight loss journey...I expected to lose all the weight in a year. No problem. After all, “real people” lost this amount of weight in this short period of time, according to the ads. I’m a “real” person. This would be fast and easy. Then I learned that this real person—me—was somehow different from all of those touting their success via their advertised stories. My weight loss was neither fast nor easy! It took hard work and consistent effort.

When I finally got smart and realized that the only “right way” to reduce weight is healthy eating and regular exercise (and you know this too!), I no longer needed those costly diet things. And when I realized that I didn’t need to go fast or wear a size 2, I stopped comparing my success to all those “untypical real people.”

Lessons Learned

All of us have either experienced failed fad diets, tried less than wonderful 'wonder' pills, or gimmicky exercise products. Yes, it may be a hard - and costly - lesson to learn, but the good news is that you're not at fault for not losing the weight.  Losing your faith in a weight loss product doesn't mean you have to lose all hope or faith in your ability to lose weight.  What it truly means is that you now have the opportunity to start empowering yourself for a real, lasting healthy lifestyle change.

Believe in yourself! 

Posted by Laura on March 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 20, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Pea And Seafood Brown Rice Paella With Saffron

Healthy eating never tasted so flavorful or looked so colorful! Brown rice adds a hearty touch to this healthy recipe from peas.org. A versatile and nutritious veggie, peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, thiamine (B1), iron and phosphorus. Must have ingredients for paella for me are shrimp, mussels and scallops, but that's the great thing about this old Spanish recipe: flexibility!  Tailor it to your own tastes or personalize it for a special guest.

Makes 4 servings

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fennel, sliced thinly
1 leek, chopped
1-2 tbsp paprika to taste
4 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
300g brown rice
A few strands of saffron soaked in 50ml warm water
750 ml vegetable stock
600g mixed fish (eg: squid, haddock, monkfish, hake)
1 courgette, diced
300g frozen garden peas
10 king or tiger prawns
24 mussels
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, fennel and leek and fry gently for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the paprika add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the rice, saffron liquid, stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 25 mins until the rice is nearly cooked then add the fish and courgette stirring into the rice and cooking for three minutes then add the peas, prawns, mussels and half of the parsley and a little more stock if necessary. Bubble gently until the liquid has been absorbed and all the fish is cooked. Serve with wedges of lemon and black pepper and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Posted by Laura on March 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2008

Overcoming Exercise Obstacles

WomanwalkingsmToday's a perfect day to post on this subject. We have a torrent of icy rain covering the snow that has been rained on previously, then followed by cold weather, so much so that it's now a nice pile of ice from which I can step onto my roof without much trouble. Needless to say, we're looking forward to Spring around these parts!

Also needless to say, my motivation to step outside for a refreshing walk (or to add to my daily steps)isn't too high at the moment. Still, I'll probably make it to the elliptical at some point today, just because it will help me feel better. After 30 years of pretty regular exercise, I'm very clear that I feel better after I do it, even though I may not want to do it some days.

The title of this post has to do with overcoming some of those motivation killers when it comes to physical activity. In this case, however, I want to talk about fears about exercise -- fears that people are watching us -- and laughing; fears that we're so out of shape we can't keep up in class or when out on a walk with friends; fears that we'll injure ourselves. These are frequent fears that we hear at our women's weight loss retreat Green Mountain at Fox Run, from the women who come to us for help in overcoming exercise obstacles like this. We address them regularly, but recently posted a new FitBriefing on our site that addresses these specific fears. Read this article "Overcoming Exercise Fears: Yes, You Can!" for tips that will help you get past these issues, and get on with taking good care of yourself. And in the coming wonderful outdoors months of summer in North America, you just might find yourself donning those sneakers and getting outside to enjoy. Or if you're facing winter in coming months in another part of the world, consider all the wonderful sports of winter that we've grown just a bit tired of at this point!

Posted by Marsha on March 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2008

Is Green Tea Really Where it's At?

970305_teaSo is green tea really the panacea of all things healthy? Depends on who you talk to. I've been drinking a lot of tea lately because I am far away from home and there are no Starbucks to be found. The horror! Anyway, believers in the healing and healthy effects of green tea claim it protects our hearts while diminishing the risk of some fatal illnesses like liver disease and even some cancers. It also has shown to assist in weight loss and provides hope to Alzheimer's victims.

That’s quite a list. Unfortunately, there are as many naysayers as there are proponents for the benefits of green tea. Some nutritionist’s claim that drinking more than four cups of black or green tea each day offers significant health benefits. Both types of tea contain antioxidants, which destroy free radicals and help protect blood vessels and just out today, there is evidence that green tea might prevent HIV infection by slowing down the spread of the virus in people who are already infected.

One thing we do know, tea is also a good source of fluid. I feel such pressure everyday to drink 8 glasses of water and rarely, if ever, do. It’s not necessary to get all your fluids from water by the way – soups, tea and even fruit provide necessary fluids too. Also, there’s been confusion around whether tea dehydrates like coffee, but it’s very low in caffeine compared to coffee.

To find out more about varieties tea, visit Tazo their tea is excellent and the site is just plain fun.

Posted by Cindy on March 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack