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January 28, 2009

Healthy Weight Loss: Is It Harder for Women to Say No?

1055107_stop_spam_signThe headlines were abuzz last week with results of the latest study that 'proved' women are at some sort of biological disadvantage compared to men. This time, it's whether we're able to resist our favorite foods as easily as men can.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, presented 13 women and 10 men with their favorite foods after a 20-hour fast.  They were allowed to smell and taste the foods but not eat them -- indeed, to try to inhibit their desire to eat -- while their brain activity was monitored through a PET scan.  The result: Both the women and men did appear to succeed in making themselves feel less hungry but the brain scans showed more activity on the part of women.  This was interpreted as the women's brains not being entirely in sync with what the women thought they were feeling. That they were actually feeling more hungry than they thought.  Or something like that.

Is there any truth to this?  
To answer that question, my BIG question is:  Was there any attempt to look at the women's previous history of restrained eating? You know, the typical (unfortunately) woman's approach to eating -- "I would love it, but I shouldn't."  "I need to lose X number of pounds, and if I eat my favorite food -- which is high in calories, fat, carbs, etc., etc., I'll be fat the rest of my life, be a bad person, etc., etc., etc."

According to one thoughtful expert in this area, who shall remain anonymous until I can get her permission to quote her (which I should have done before now but oh, well), "It is well-known that people who are trying to restrain [that is, diet] have different responses to 'external' stimuli about food [that is, exposure to food -- you know, like, walking through the mall smelling the Cinnabons], and it is well known that more women diet, and have dieted, than men."  

Simply put, if we have a history of dieting, which almost carves the diet mentality into our brains, it's gonna make it harder for us to say no to food, especially that which we think we shouldn't have.

A BIG caveat:  If we are successful at again adopting mindful eating (or intuitive eating or attuned eating or normal eating -- you choose the term) -- that is, eating like we were born to do -- I doubt we'd show any more brain activity than men when faced with our favorite foods and told we can't eat them. Because we are no longer restrained eaters.  So there is hope that we don't have to be forever victims of our previous folly of dieting.

Just my thoughts on the subject.  :-)  Have a great day!!


Photo by Mzacha

Posted by Marsha on January 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


January 07, 2009

For Healthy Lifestyles: New Year's Resolutions We Can Live With

957450_bulls-eye I can now confess I have recently developed a new addiction, although it's one I think I am coming to terms with.  It's called Twitter, a social networking site that has been a lot of fun over the holidays.  If you're on Twitter, follow me at http://twitter.com/MarshaHudnall.


How does this relate to the title of this post?  I found through Twitter an interesting blog Healthbuzz by Jim, MD, which is composed of podcasts on a variety of health subjects.  The post that grabbed my attention was on New Year's Resolutions.  Dr. Jim acknowledged that while a focus on healthy eating and staying active would have the most impact on our health in the new year, it's a hard task for many of us.  So he came up with seven healthy lifestyle resolutions that are easier to follow and still offer a lot for our well-being.

  • Have fun & de-stress.  It's obvious why this helps our health.
  • Take care of oral hygiene.  Seems poor oral hygiene can raise risk for heart attack.
  • Start working crossword puzzles.  Keeps the mind nimble. 
  • Indulge in a little red wine daily.   The antioxidants therein provide some important health benefits. (Dr. Jim emphasizes 'a little.') 
  • Stop the cycle of snoring.  Affects both your and your sleeping partner's sleep.
  • Don't skip the seatbelt -- ever.  Ditto my comment on the first bullet.
  • Check your ergonomics. Especially for those of us almost permanently attached to the computer. 

So keep up those fitness and diet (healthy eating, that is, not weight loss diet) efforts, but when you feel like you're going around in circles with that, focus on the above for a little positive feedback in the form of success at these sometimes easier efforts.  And listen to Dr. Jim's whole spiel about them for his complete take on the subject. 
Happy New Year!

Posted by Marsha on January 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


December 17, 2008

Women's Weight Loss: 'Tis the Season to Be Kind

I had a wonderful interaction with a family member this morning.  Amazingly, it was echoed in my horoscope today on DailyOM, the site I've mentioned before that is often uncannily relevant to what's going on in my life.  Won't get into the generality of horoscopes -- I know they often can apply to anyone. But the words I get in a daily e-letter from DailyOM seem to go beyond that.


But to my real reason for even mentioning this. The horoscope talks about doing something for others with a 'kind and open heart.'  It brought to mind for me the need for women struggling with body image and healthy weight loss and maintenance to be kind to themselves.  Because once we begin to treat ourselves gently, we find we can treat others much more gently -- especially those with similar struggles. And when it comes to healthy lifestyle management, fitness and diet, there's a real need for gentle treatment.  

Of course, one of the things we're most tough on ourselves about during the holiday season is our desire to eat all the great treats of the season -- and our indulgence in doing it. So it bears repeating on this blog that is all about learning to take care of ourselves well, that indulgence is good for us in moderation.  So go ahead, indulge!  Here are a few tips from our article "Go Ahead, Indulge!" that talks about holiday overeating.

  • Feed yourself.
  • Be choosy.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • Cultivate a discriminating palate. 
  • Keep moving. 
  • Enjoy the season!  
For details on doing all that, read our Fitbriefing that defines healthy weight loss foods a bit differently.

Posted by Marsha on December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


November 19, 2008

Preventing Holiday Weight Gain: 10 Tips to Guarantee Holiday Weight Gain

The annual holiday food fight is about to begin.  You know, the one where conflicted women nationwide (even worldwide) face down rich-food eating traditions.

This year, to help women understand what doesn’t work when it comes to happy holidays, the healthy-weight experts at Green Mountain at Fox Run have come up with some sure-fire tips to take the guesswork out of gaining those holiday pounds.  We counter them with sensible advice for emerging from the holidays feeling great.

For Guaranteed Holiday Weight Gain

Before the Holidays

·      Diet! Diet! Diet!  Let’s face it, you expect to overeat during the holidays so why not get a jump on weight loss now?  If you’re feeling truly ambitious, try dieting during the holidays, too; the deprivation will be highly effective at driving you to overeat.  Our real advice:  Learn to eat what you want now in a way that leaves you feeling great.  Then the holidays won’t pose any special challenge, and you can enjoy them fully.

·      Work out extra hard and long every day.  You can make up for those times during the holidays when you won’t want or have the time to do anything.  Our real advice:  When we overdo on exercise, we’re more likely to burn out, or worse yet, injure ourselves, and guarantee we don’t want to do anything.  Slow and steady wins the race.

·      Start weighing yourself daily.  You’ll be able to follow your weight up and down the scale, and cut back even more when you’ve gained an ounce.  Then you’ll heighten your feelings of deprivation even more, further guaranteeing holiday overindulgenceOur real advice:  Toss out the scale now and for always.  It generally doesn’t give the instant gratification we seek, and often negatively impacts our motivation to take care of ourselves.

During the Holidays

·      Take on as much work as you can.  If you don’t do it, who will?  The holidays just aren’t the holidays without all the fuss!  Our real advice:  Choose wisely in what you commit to.  You may end up with fewer or simpler celebrations but you’ll enjoy the holidays much more.

·      Surround yourself with family and friends who make you feel guilty about eating.  It’s easier to say ‘no’ when your spouse, mother, sister, daughter, friend looks disapprovingly at you as you reach for that wonderful holiday sprinkled cookie.  Our real advice:  Educate family and friends about the real impact of their attempts to control what you eat.  If they won’t listen, minimize your time around them when you’re eating.  It may mean missing a party or meal, but you might feel much better as a result.

·      Forget about stress management for now.  You’re too busy!! Just focus on getting what you need to get done.  And be sure to really have too much to do before big parties.  If you can pick a fight with your spouse on the way to a party, all the better to guarantee extra emotional overeatingOur real advice:  Take care of yourself physically and mentally to help keep a balanced view on what’s important during busy times.  Maybe the easiest thing to do:  Get some exercise! Physical activity refreshes, relaxes, revitalizes and will add energy and enthusiasm to your life.  Make it a regular part of your day during the holidays and after.

Before & During Parties

·      Make sure every social event revolves around food.  If you throw the party yourself, make too much food, especially desserts!  Set up nuts and other goodies early so you can pick at them all day long while you skip meals.  You do eat fewer calories that way, right?  Our real advice:  Traditional foods are a big part of festivities, but holidays don’t have to be all about food.  Plan fun activities such as pumpkin bowling (knock down gourd ‘pins’ with small pumpkins), a pine cone toss (count how many pine cones you can land inside a hula hoop) or just fun and refreshing walks through the woods, around the neighborhood talking to friends you pass.

·      Set a ‘hands-off’ rule for all the rich foods you’ll encounter.  If you just say ‘no,’ you’ll be able to nip any weight gain in the bud!  Our real advice:  When we forbid foods or label them ‘bad,’ we set ourselves up for overeating them.  Again, learn to eat foods you love – even those rich in calories, fat, sugar – in a manner that makes you feel well.  That way, you’ll enjoy them and, if you’re following a healthy lifestyle, you’ll enjoy a healthy weight, too.

·      Go ahead and buy all those goodies on sale in jumbo packages.  They’re for your guests; they won’t create any problem for you having them around.  Our real advice:  Good intentions aside, mere exposure to food often sets us up for wanting to at least taste it, especially if we’ve got the idea we shouldn’t.  Help yourself by buying only as much as you really need, and even then, it might help to keep goodies tucked out of sight in the pantry until party time. 

·      Bank calories whenever possible.  Skip breakfast and lunch to make sure you’ll overeat at the party.  Our real advice: Feeding yourself well all the time leaves you better nourished and able to choose wisely whether at parties or the food court at the mall.

Posted by Marsha on November 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack


October 22, 2008

More on Healthy Weights & Reading

51ilyzv1gwl_sl500_aa240__3A couple weeks ago, I posted about research that showed reading books that young girls could identify with helped improve self esteem and might be a good way to reach them with helpful fitness and health information. Emphasis on the helpful, which to us at Green Mountain means health at every size [HAES] messages.

For anyone who can use a primer on what HAES is all about, I'm thrilled to report that Linda Bacon has published her long-awaited book (long-awaited in HAES circles at least) "Health at Every Size, The Surprising Truth about your Weight." Excerpts from the website:

Fat isn't the problem. Dieting is the problem.

A society that rejects anyone whose size or body shape doesn't meet an impossible ideal is the problem.

A medical establishment that equates "thin" with "healthy" is the problem.

The solution? Health at Every Size

Health at Every Size is not a diet book. Read it and you will be convinced that the best way to win the war against fat is the give up the fight.

This is a book with helpful messages that anyone concerned about womens healthy living -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- can really use.

Posted by Marsha on October 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


October 17, 2008

Healthy Eating: Halloween Candy Doesn't Have to Be Scary

Be afraid...Be very afraid?

Are you spooked by all the candy corn, marshmellow ghosts, licorice black cats and other Halloween treats that are everywhere you look this time of year?  Are you haunted at work by coworkers who bring in bags to share? Are you apprehensive in stores, banks and even doctor's offices because you know you'll see little bowls of goodies just waiting for another victim? Eeeeeeek - what's a healthy eating person to do?

Answer: Indulge a little!

In a past post called Holiday Treats Are Meant To Eat - Mindfully, Cindy points out that traditional holiday goodies are a good thing! The important thing is to be aware of your eating behavior:

  • Eat treats when you really want them. Not just because they're there.
  • Give yourself permission. No sneaking!
  • Sit down. Be mindful. Savor the experience.
  • Taste what you’re eating. If you’re not crazy about fruitcake, leave it be, eat something that really rocks your boat.
  • Put closure on your eating. Treats are just that - a treat – not a substitute for lunch!
  • Make it count. Indulge in special holiday treats only in conjunction with a healthy diet. Don't skip or skimp on meals because you had a piece of fudge!
  • Rejoice in the season.

So make a conscious decision to enjoy a Halloween treat once in a while, you'll lose the fear and feel empowered!

Posted by Laura on October 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


October 15, 2008

For Healthy Eating & Healthy Weights, Eat Fat

I just finished a breakfast of a bagel and sausage. Okay, it was half a small bagel and sausage made from a pig grown down the road from me, but still, it was sausage in all its high-fat goodness. Yes, goodness.

We've long encouraged women who come to Green Mountain at Fox Run to give up the fear of fat. Yet we see it continue among the calorie-conscious -- fat does have more than twice the calories of protein or carbohydrate. And too much of it probably has a negative effect on health independent of the calories it contains, especially saturated fat, an excess of which is linked to heart disease and maybe other diseases.

But many of us went to the extreme many years ago in reducing fat -- jumping on the fat-free bandwagon that many experts now suspect created more healthy eating problems than it solved (if it solved any at all). One thing that I am sure of is that going fat-free took much of the joy out of eating. A fat-free version of a yummy food just isn't yummy anymore. In many cases, too, the lowfat version isn't any good either. My solution is to eat the real thing, but be conscious of how much we eat of it.

In particular, many of us have become very turned off to animal fat, such as that in the yummy sausage breakfast I just enjoyed. When we're looking for healthy weight loss, or to keep our weight at a healthy level, animal fat is often the last thing we'll really consider putting in our mouths. In a recent article on salon.com, Monica Bhide, who has written for the Washington Post and New York Times among other publications, interviewed Jennifer McLagan on in her new book, "Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes." Jennifer says, and I agree [except with the blanket 'blame' about obesity; sometimes it not a question of blame; some of us are genetically destined to be larger, and we don't suffer any negative health effects from it],

It's difficult to blame obesity on one thing. But it is definitely not consumption of animal fats. I think there are many causes -- the way we eat, alone, in the car, walking down the street, the constant snacking. Increased consumption of low-fat, fat-free "foods" results in us eating more sugars and carbohydrates. These products don't satisfy our hunger and leave us wanting to eat more. Eating good animal fat does, so you eat less.

I haven't read Jennifer's book so can't vouch for the veracity of any claims made in it or about it. But I do appreciate her vote for moderation, one of the three basic principles of healthy eating, whether it's to lose weight or just stay healthy and feel good. What are the other two principles? Variety and balance. Key principles for mindful eating, and words to live by, indeed.

Posted by Marsha on October 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack


October 03, 2008

Healthy Eating: Chicken Soup a Healthy Food for Pandas at China's Wuhan Zoo

People have sworn by their grandmother's chicken soup to fight off fall and winter colds, and some research* has actually studied the potential health benefits of the age-old folk remedy.

Now even Pandas are responding to a healthy dose of chicken soup! CNN reports that over-stressed pandas at the Wuhan Zoo in central China (due to the busy tourist season) are being fed "home-cooked chicken soup twice in a month to reduce stress and give them a nutritional boost."

"They had been getting less sleep, and they had to run around more," zoo keeper He Zhihua said, referring to two 3-year-old pandas named Xiwang and Weiwei ("Hope" and "Greatness"). "We felt it would be good to give them the soup because they were fatigued and had a bit of a shock."

Although pandas normally eat bamboo, they can also eat meat.  Zhihua said that pandas will sometimes eat insects and small birds in the wild. The zookeepers thought of giving this 'prescription' to their pandas because the Chinese have a long tradition of drinking slow-cooked chicken soup for their own health.

So how did the pandas like the soup? 

"They drank it all like they drank their milk. They loved it," reports Zhihua.

China's week-long National Day holiday is one of the biggest travel seasons of the year. 

* Chicken soup contains several ingredients that affect the body's immune system, a team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found in a research study conducted in 2000. The soup's anti-inflammatory properties may explain why it soothes sore throats and eases the misery of colds and flu, according to Dr. Stephen Rennard and his research colleagues. (Source: CNN.com)

Read Healthy Eating on a Budget to learn how to stretch your food dollars in managing type 2 diabetes, healthy weight loss, polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic syndrome, or any of the myriad problems that healthy eating can address.

Posted by Laura on October 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


September 30, 2008

Healthy Living: Is Wall Street Bad For Your Waistline?

ImagesIt’s impossible at this juncture to be unaffected by the recent events on Wall Street. With an election just around the corner, our financial markets are a mess, Americans are losing their homes, the country is at war, and we’re still dealing with shortages of oil and rising fuel costs, not to mention the rise in unemployment. Gee, did I miss anything?

No matter if you’re young and just starting out, or your retirement is looming just over the horizon, all the recent news makes gaining a few extra pounds seem like childs play, doesn’t it?

Turning on the news may give you an upset stomach. Or, like many Americans, cause you to reach for your cupboards for solace. So, with all this anxiety out there, I thought it might be well worth it to direct you to a Green Mountain at Fox Run Update that was published in the winter of 2002.  Food for thought…

Craving Comfort Foods in Times of Crisis – Update 2002 | Vol. 28 No. 1

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Posted by Cindy on September 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


September 29, 2008

Healthy Eating: Lower Your Cholesterol with TLC

Roughly half of all adults in the United States are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease because of high or borderline cholesterol levels. As a result, statin drugs are widely prescribed both here in America and abroad.

A Little TLC Goes a Long Way

But drugs aren't the only answer, stress promoters of the National Cholesterol Education Program. A healthy lifestyle which includes healthy eating and exercise (which they call Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes or TLC) can also keep cholesterol levels in check and avoid potential side effects that statin medications can cause.

TLC Guidelines

Here are some ways you can lower your cholesterol levels through healthy lifestyle change.

  • Reduce saturated fat to no more than 7 percent of total calories, and cholesterol to no more than 200 milligrams per day
    • Tip: read food labels and track your daily saturated fat grams
  • Strive for or maintain a healthy weight
    • Tip: just losing 10 percent of overall body weight can substantially improve your health.
  • Add soluble fiber to your healthy eating plan
    • Tip: choose foods like oats, beans, fruits and veggies
  • Add 2 grams of plant stanols and sterols a day to reduce absorption of cholesterol
    • Tip: For best results, eat foods containing plant stanols and sterols with meals twice a day.
  • Practice therapeutic lifestyle changes
    • Tip: read more of our blog posts under Lifestyle to learn ways to change your habits

Posted by Laura on September 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack