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March 27, 2009

On Attitude Adjustments and the Perils of Overtraining

3325186785_f433290efe_m I've been eating healthy and being active for about a month and a half now and last week, when I stepped on the dreaded scale, I didn't get the results I'd been hoping for. It turns out that as I've gotten more fit, I need to bump my cardio up a notch in order to get the same results I had in the beginning of my training. Instead of focusing on the positive - my overall fitness level was increasing and I had still dropped pounds, I took it as a mandate that I wasn't working hard enough and ended up overdoing it. The Green Mountain fitness manager was hesitant to give me a set amount of time to do my cardio, saying that she didn't want to me to become an "over-exerciser." "Ha! There's no risk of that happening," I told her.

But over the weekend, I proceeded to run on the treadmill and walk several miles more a day than I was used to in an effort to "kick it up a notch." By Monday, I could barely walk. I wanted to write about overtraining, since it's surprisingly easy to slip into and there's a common misconception that we need to exercise strenuously every day in order to see results.

But here's why that kind of thinking is destructive. Unrealistic expectations make training stressful and can make you feel guilty if you're not "doing enough." Overtraining can also lead to injury or other health problems that can make us inactive for a long period of time to recover.

Here are a few tips that the Green Mountain trainers use to prevent overtraining:

  • Practice moderation in intensity, duration and frequency of workouts
  • Progress (or kick it up a notch) slowly, at a rate that's appropriate to your fitness level
  • Try to reduce your overall stress
  • Alternate higher intensity workout days with easier days
  • Keep in mind that rest is important for your body
  • Mix it up with a variety of activities such as pool exercises, circuit training or intervals

Have you ever over-trained? How did you change your thinking to get back on a healthy routine?

Photo by lu_lu via flickr.

Posted by Emily on March 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It Happened This Week: In Praise of Beets

Almost fit has 44 Ways to Lose Weight without dieting, including eating real, high quality fats.

CNN Health lists the 10 best foods for your heart.

If you have diabetes or are at risk for it, Consumer Reports has 8 ways to live longer.

Body Love Wellness blog has tips on how to "thoughtfully indulge" at parties and special occasions.

FOX News asks: What's the Difference between Yoga and Pilates and Which Is Best For You?

Nutrition and Food Web Archive has the lowdown on fitness after 50.

After President Obama expresses his distaste for beets, the blogosphere comes out in defense of the little root veggie that could. The New York Times' Well blog has the scoop.

Posted by Emily on March 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2009

Healthy Recipe: Twice Baked Potatoes

Picture 2Check out our latest healthy recipe, this time for a cheesy baked potato.

Click here to view the recipe.

Posted by Emily on March 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 25, 2009

What to Eat...& What Not To

546230_working_3 Joining Twitter has certainly put me in touch with the world at large.  I've been able to get an overview of popular thoughts about healthy weight, weight loss, diet, fitness...all those subjects that interest the women who come to Green Mountain at Fox Run. (Of course, I don't have any time to do anything else anymore, but that's a different story.)

This is a lead-up to the fact that today's post features my thoughts on a few items that came across my desk computer in the last week, most of them courtesy of those I follow on Twitter. (Thanks, Twitter friends!)

So if you're interested in...

  • whether we have to eat organic to eat healthy (& a great recipe)
  • whether we need to eat things we don't like if we want to eat healthy
  • how to eat like a French woman
  • the latest on weight loss supplements

...read on.

Do we have to eat organic to eat healthy?

I've loved Mark Bittman's recipes for a long time; recently, he has been bitten by the health bug, and he's doing some wonderful work on lighter recipes that taste fabulous. (Check out his great mixture of dandelion greens and potatoes; I made it last week for company, and we were all transfixed. Really, we did like it that much.  I left off the bread crumbs because I am gluten sensitive, and it's still very yummy.)

His recent New York Times article "Eating Food that's Better for You, Organic or Not" is a good brief on some of the issues surrounding organic foods, which he summed up like this, "...when Americans have had their fill of “value-added” and overprocessed food, perhaps they can begin producing and consuming more food that treats animals and the land as if they mattered. Some of that food will be organic, and hooray for that. Meanwhile, they should remember that the word itself is not synonymous with “safe,” “healthy,” “fair” or even necessarily “good.”" 

Bottom line: Good doesn't always have to be organic, and organic isn't always good. 

Do I have to eat foods I don't like if I want to eat healthy?

A recent survey showed one in three Britons eat foods they don't like because they think it's good for them.  The article quotes a nutritionist saying she is astonished that so many people don't realize there are other choices for nutrients than foods they don't like.  For example, abhor spinach?  Try beef or dried apricots to get iron.  Bonus: iron from beef is even better absorbed than that from spinach so you might end up better off for it, at least as far as iron goes. 

Bottom line:  We don't have to eat what we don't like to be healthy.  (Caveat:  If we think we don't like anything but highly-processed food that's devoid of much in terms of good nutrition, we may need to work on changing our tastes.  It's worth it!)

French women do get fat but fewer of them do than Americans.

I love to read someone who is talking about really appreciating good-tasting food; this wasn't about that. :)  But it's where we can get to when we start paying attention to enjoying our food. Psychology Today featured an article with a title referring to the  French paradox; it was a discussion of mindful eating comparing French and American eating habits.  Has some useful tips for helping yourself slow down and start paying attention. So does our FitBriefing we wrote a while ago looking at the book French Women Don't Get Fat.

Bottom line:  Enjoyment is not just in the taste of what we eat, but also in how we eat it and how we feel after doing so.

One more reason not to use weight-loss supplements.

To end this discussion about what we eat I thought I'd focus on what a lot of folks do to help them not eat: diet supplements.  The Food and Drug Administration last week expanded its list of weight loss supplements that are tainted with drugs such as antidepressants, amphetamine, diuretics and experimental obesity drugs.

Bottom line:  Not only do weight loss products represent quick weight-loss efforts that don't work for most (any?) folks, now they come with additional risks.  Or maybe they did all along....

Have you recently read any interesting info about food and weight that's worth sharing?

Posted by Marsha on March 25, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 24, 2009

Guest Post: Spring Cleaning on the Inside

Picture 2 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.

Posted by Emily on March 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 23, 2009

Spring into Shape: Our Diabetes and Mother's Day Program Deals

444976647_d67199d2a7 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.

Posted by Emily on March 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2009

It Happened This Week: Fish, Milk and 'Skinny Clothes'

CNN has a primer on How To Buy the freshest, healthiest fish.

Nutrition Data blog answers the question "What kind of milk is best for blood sugar control?"

Bacon is My Enemy weighs in on hoarding "skinny clothes." You know you do it, too.

Workout Mommy has a great list entitled "Things I have learned about Diet and Fitness."

The New York Times' Well blog asks "What's Your Cooking Personality?"

Glamour magazine's "Never Say Diet" blog is asking women to write in about "How I learned to Love my Body."

About.com wonders if there is a connection between Fibromyalgia and Binge Eating Disorder.

Posted by Emily on March 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

In Pursuit of a Healthy Weight: One Woman's Green Mountain Experience

3293903618_273fdc0958 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.

Posted by Emily on March 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2009

Healthy Recipe: “Oven-Fried” Chicken Nuggets

6a00d83451b3f869e20112796e6b3228a4-800wi Chicken nuggets are always a big hit, even with the picky eaters of the family. For kids and adults it's a yummy treat and, with this recipe courtesy of the American Cancer Society, you can feel confident that it's also a healthy one. The crunchy outside keeps the meat tender and moist. Who knew nuggets could be so good . . . and good for you?

Tip: Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper to speed cleanup.

Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes or less
Total time: 30 minutes or less

10 classic or whole grain Melba toasts (2 pouches)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch "nuggets"


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a food processor, pulse the Melba toast until pieces are about ⅛ inch in size, with some smaller and larger pieces. Don't over process. Add oil and pulse once or twice, or until crumbs are just moistened. (You can also use a rolling pin or a meat mallet to crush the toasts by hand in a zip-top bag. Then mix the oil and crumbs together in a bowl.) Transfer crumbs to a plate.

In a bowl, beat egg. Add mustard, oregano, salt, and garlic powder and beat to combine. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then in crumbs, pressing to coat all sides of the meat. Place on the rack.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

Photo by PurpleDinosaurr via flickr.

Posted by Emily on March 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 18, 2009

On Meghan McCain, Tyra Banks & Hope

1150786_85005404 Have you been following the Meghan McCain body size debate over the last week?  If you've somehow missed it, Lesley at Fatshionista has a good review of what's gone on.

My take on it has to do with dismay, gratification and optimism.

  • I'm appalled that a woman dissed Ms. McCain about her body size.  Guess I shouldn't be.  But I like to think that women are leading the way away from size prejudice, and it's just disturbing to see my belief so publicly challenged.
  • I'm pleased Ms. McCain had a prominent, beautiful woman like Tyra Banks as a model for fighting size disparagement.  Let's face it, if Tyra weren't beautiful, she wouldn't have as much clout in this issue.  But that gets into another subject.
  • I'm hopeful these kinds of attacks are becoming more recognized as wrong -- or at the least, politically incorrect.  My hope stems from the fact that we've seen what began as a small number of voices over 30 years ago snowball into the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement, which is gaining significant momentum. 

The basic tenets of HAES are the future of self-care, which is ideally what healthy weight is all about.  The tenets -- eating intuitively, moving our bodies regularly in order to feel well, taking care of ourselves in other basic ways, and accepting the bodies that result -- are, in a way, about optimizing our genetic destiny.  And accepting we are all different.

Hope, optimism, destiny.  They're all good words to help us keep on keepin' on

What words describe your feelings about the state of size acceptance?

Posted by Marsha on March 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack