Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marion's Update: Fitbit Zip, Apples; Squash, Martini Radio, ....

Here is my update for how I am doing health- and fitness-wise:

1. My knee is definitely much better than a few months ago. No more soreness. The little leg twirls are doing their rehab magic. I'm gradually adding yoga back into my fitness routine, a little bit more per week.

2. Fitbit. My middle daughter bought me a Fitbit Zip this summer. I've been wearing it since the end of July. Currently, I have not been taking walks but still average about 2.5 miles per day of just walking in my house, office, and various daily shopping trips. Yesterday, I ended up walking over 3.5 miles, with Saturday shopping. I am not trying to up my walking right now, as I'm letting this knee, newly feeling great, to take priority over all fitness.

3. We bought 20 pounds of McIntosh apples from the apple orchard last weekend. I am very pleased to see husband, teen kids, and myself all eating at least 2 apples per day.

4. It's soup and squash season. I've already purchased spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and split pea soup mix...and I can't decide which I should eat first!!! Dilemmas, dilemmas...of the best sort. I also baked fish lately, which was super tasty.

5. I am still within 5 pounds of my lowest weight this year. I'm still doing food journaling and all of the other tools and strategies that I talk about on this blog. They work for me, which is why I recommend them to you!

6. I have the presentation for TOPS on Tuesday. I'm thinking about the topic of "Quick Forgiveness" with a football analogy.

7. Yesterday, I just found a new FM radio station called "Martini Radio," which plays everything from Frank Sinatra to jazzy Billy Joel songs. Soooo Yay! (If you don't know about my affection for swing/big band/jazzy music, press the Pinterest button on the upper ride side of this blog to go investigate/listen to my awesome music finds.)

8. My husband and I are going to a friend's party tonight. I'm planning on wearing my new plaid pants and jacket, hair done, etc.... No, I'm not planning on eating the decadent food there.

Now I am off to make lemongrass/coconut green tea. Or apple chai tea. Hmmm.....

What do *you* think? I have a LOT of random stuff up here today. I can't wait to see what you say. :-)

Have a Delightful Day!

:-) Marion

Monday, September 8, 2014

Plan Little Happinesses For The Entire Day

When I used to binge and overeat all day long, I used food throughout the day as little happinesses. Each excess serving of food I ate, whether by smidgens, second helpings or binges, provided a chemical zing in my brain. They made my brain feel happy.

So when I decided to lose weight, I realized that I had to learn other ways to get happy. I had two main plans of attack for being happy without excess food:

1) Develop a better perspective about my life. I really worked hard to see my life as not being a crisis. Most awful things that happen to me also happen to other people. They are, in fact, common. So whenever I felt the urge to do emotional eating to soothe my nerves, I told myself, "My life is not a crisis," and "I can handle this situation." What also helped is knowing that terrible and annoying things had happened to me in my life before, and I had survived them completely intact. Eventually, I did start seeing my life as normal, not as exceptional situations that deserved emotional eating.

2) Find new and better sources of little happinesses that did not involve excess food. I still wanted my brain zings throughout the day, so I decided to deliberately plan little happinesses to happen during each part of the day.

Here are some of my little happinesses throughout the day:

1) A hot bath or shower;
2) Morning coffee or tea;
3) Choosing a shirt, pants, and/or outfit that I really like:
4) Choosing a necklace;
5) Spritzes of my favorite perfume/scent;
6) Soft cushion-y socks and favorite shoes;
7) Eating a cheese omelet, with several bites going to my dog;
8) Mint gum to chew at work;
9) Accomplishing quality work at my office;
10) Listening to swanky big band music while cooking and washing dishes;
11) Yoga and balancing exercises that make my body feel artistic;
12) A walk with my favorite little doggy;
13) Conversations and laughs with my kids and husband;
14) My husband and I watching a favorite television show together;
15) Giving a complement or opening the door for someone;
16) Taking care of indoor/outdoor plants;
17) Reading a chapter or two of a great book;
18) Playing an internet game;
19) Connecting with a good friend via email, blog, or Facebook;
20) Applying sparkly polish to my toes.

Since I changed my eating habits, I have greatly learned to appreciate many little joys of life. My life feels of much higher quality than it did when I depended on food to provide the brain zings.

I encourage you to make a deliberate plan for little happinesses to happen throughout your daily life. Make a list of little thing you really enjoy and start to incorporate more of them into each day. Your life will get more delightful, and you will have less and less reasons to eat excess food.

What do *you* think? What are your favorite little happinesses?

Have a Fun Day!

:-) Marion

Friday, September 5, 2014

How Exercise Affects Weight Loss (...after much experience and long thought)

As most of you know, I've been going to the gym since January 2007. I adore fitness and working out. Given this experience, I'd like to discuss the subject of how exercise affects weight loss.

Firstly, I like to say that before I started working out in 2007, I was overweight and had very little mind-body connection. I hardly thought about how my body looked or felt at all. I rarely looked in a full-length mirror, did not go clothes shopping very much, and almost never weighed myself.

But after I started working out on a regular basis, I remembered my body! I newly experienced my range of motion, full wing span, deep breaths, powerful strength, and lovingly stretched out muscles. I began to feel much differently about my body.

These new daily thoughts about how profoundly better my body felt were on my mind quite often. I attribute these body thoughts to helping me lose weight. It's contradictory (and nearly impossible) for your mind to be wanting wonderful things for your body, exercise-wise, while wanting terrifying things for your body, food-wise. My exercise coming together started to pull my eating into alignment.

I often thought, I just worked out at the gym this morning, why wreck that with a fattening doughnut?

Without watching my food very well, I lost some amount of weight and got to size 12. While I was not eating very carefully, I was always thinking about being healthy. I was choosing apples more often than candy because I now appreciated my body.

So I was size 12 for a few years while working out at the gym nearly every day. I did get stronger and more skilled at the gym during those years. I bench pressed 160 pounds and learned to do headstands. I got leaner too because muscle is smaller per pound than fat. However, I did not keep losing more weight from vigorous daily exercise. Everyone in the gym saw how I tried to exercise away bad eating habits, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn't do it.

When people say that weight management is 70% food-related and 30% exercise-related (and some put this ratio at 80% food-related and 20% exercise-related), I agree with this ratio, regarding intake and output of calorie consumption. Most people cannot out-exercise a bad diet. Being a smaller size is mostly about reducing your food/calorie consumption.

However, I would be very wrong to omit this fact: Had I not started to seriously exercise, I would have never handled my weight. Exercise open the mental door to me being receptive to dealing with my weight.

The gym's influence got me down to size 12. Then, when I finally dealt with my remaining eating issues, I was able to slim down to size 8.

So what level of importance do I place for exercise when trying to lose weight? It's huge. Exercise won't burn off all of the calories of a poor diet, but it will get you in the right frame of mind to begin a healthier diet, which in turn, will help you lose the weight.

What do *you* think? Do you agree? I hope this provides insight to people who are wondering about what combo of diet/exercise they have to do to lose weight.

Have a Super Day!

:-) Marion

Thursday, September 4, 2014

You're Going To Have To Say "No" A Lot

To get overweight, we lived in an environment that encouraged us to overeat. We live in an all-you-can-eat-buffet society. Gone is the shame of overeating. Everyone feels too many pressures in a high-paced culture, so nobody blames you for food indulgences, otherwise known as "comfort food," consumed on a daily basis. In fact, one of the main connectors to our favorite people is often as "food buddies." We celebrate our successes with food. Likewise, we drown our frustrations and mental exhaustion with food, often in the company of our closest friends and family members.  

Given this situation, you're going to have to say "no" a lot in order to lose weight. You may say it in a nicer way like, "No, thanks!" or "I can't right now," or "I'd rather not." But however polite or cheerful you say it, you're going to end up saying no in more situations than you can imagine. And, at first, it will be much more difficult than you think because you aren't just convincing yourself to not eat the food, you're also telling your closest people that life is going to change in a big way.

When I first got very serious about losing my weight, I realized that my family living around me in my home was equally serious about eating whatever food they wanted. They were also intent on me being part of their food interactions. Eating out is considered a cherished weekly type of celebration and togetherness for families. They wanted this interaction with me. All family members eating favorite food indulgences together is an easy non-confrontational way to connect.

Enter me and my cause to lose weight. All of a sudden, these restaurant celebrations seemed threatening to my goals. The "politeness" of a family member repeatedly asking if I wanted second helpings of food started to make me nervous because I had many years beneath my belt of saying yes to those extra helpings.

To lose weight, I had to become more individualized about how I ate. When I first explained to my husband and kids that I did not want to eat out at a restaurant, they found that somewhat insulting. They partially viewed it as a rejection of them, not just the food. But I knew that I had trouble eating in restaurants, so why even tempt myself. At home, I asked them to not buy my favorite ice cream and candy.

For a few months, family members continued to ask me to overeat with them in various situations, including at home and restaurants. I kept saying no. Soon this bothered everyone in the family. Everything about eating was going smoothly for years until I decided to lose weight. All of a sudden, I was going off on my own tangent, very unfamily-like. My closest food buddies, namely my husband and kids, started having less good times with me. This was hard, but I had to stick this out.

During this frustrating time, I did have people who supported my change to healthier eating. My two oldest daughters, as adults, told me to keep going no matter what. I also had my weekly weight management group who understood my frustrations and listened intently to my situation, which helped me persist week after week to keep saying no. 

Hard rules of saying no gradually become habits. I wish I could tell you that it only takes 30, 60, or 90 days to form new habits. I found it took me over six months of saying no to indulgent food before I formed individualized eating habits that felt normal and automatic, rather than strictly forced rules.

But something good happened along the way. My family gradually got accustomed to my new way of eating. They eventually accepted the following:

--They got used to me eating an apple out of my purse, while others ate take-out burgers in our car.

--My husband finally realized that it was my personal freedom to eat when I wanted, or to not eat at all. Sometimes I did not feel like eating out, but just wanted a diet soda alongside others eating at a restaurant. 

--Family members gradually accepted that I was going to bring at least half (or more) of my restaurant food home--every single time. Eventually, they quit looking at me funny when I did that.

--They understood that I was going to eat differently for most meals at home. Often, I was eating a sliver of pizza with a big bowl of green beans while the rest of the family had huge slices of pizza. Eventually I ate this way without anyone asking me whether I really preferred thick cheesy pizza more than a bowl of green beans.

Our family life came back to a new version of normal, with me at a lower weight. However, this took almost a year of saying no before that fully happened. But it did happen. As I got stronger about eating well, I could relax and have more fun with my family.

So stick it through. Healthy eating to get to a good weight is a huge lifestyle change. But it does get easier. It just takes a lot of no's and enough time for people around you to adjust.

This may sound discouraging, but I also want to remind you that each and every "no" to unhealthy food is a loving "yes" to a healthy body. We need to say "yes" frequently to the cause of our own healthiness. 

What do *you* think? Was it difficult to get your family to adjust to your new way of eating? How about your "food buddies?" I think this is a topic that makes it hard to lose weight that is not discussed enough.

Have a Marvelous Day!

:-) Marion

Monday, September 1, 2014

Make A Small List Of Healthy Foods That You *Won't* Eat

Yes, that's what I said -- we're talking about certain healthy foods that we do not want to eat. And that's okay. We don't have to.

Many diet books and programs have specified food to eat -- eat each item on the menu in the exact quantity and you'll lose the weight. That torture only works for a limited time period. Invariably, there is one of your most dreaded foods on the list. You may choke it down once or twice, but your food tolerance has limits. Over the long run, you will eventually quit eating the menu of food you don't like.

What does work is to make a plan based upon foods that you will be okay with eating over and over, year after year. You need to *like* your food in order to keep eating it for the long-term.

So it was liberating to me to say: I make the rule that I'm never going to force myself to eat huge lettuce-y salads anymore! I'm not a rabbit! I reject those huge bird bath filled salads with over-sized leafs of lettuce that feel sloppy when they don't fit into my mouth unless I jam them in! Most of all, I hate the diet-y feel to eating lettuce on a daily basis.

So I substituted cucumbers as a base for salad. The cucumber salads are less messy and, overall, much more happy for me.

Other healthy foods that I don't force myself to eat regularly: 

--Broccoli causes me digestive problems. 
--I don't like raw carrots very much. 

Surprisingly, just saying no to a few healthy foods made me feel a huge-r "YES" toward eating healthy. Daily eating is supposed to be enjoyable! There are numerous healthy choices, such that if you don't like spinach, there are plenty of vegetable alternatives.

Of course, it will not work to say, "I don't like vegetables, so I'm not going to eat any of them." If you don't like all vegetables, you need to spend time learning how to prepare them better. Herbs and spices make a great deal of difference for how vegetables taste. Also, a small pat of butter (1 teaspoon) melted on top greatly enhances vegetable flavor.

But the point is this: Just because I adore acorn squash and eat it every week during the winter months--does not mean that you need to eat acorn squash. Just because you love broccoli and toss it in every salad, soup, and stir fry, does not mean that I need to eat broccoli.

I'm not saying that I never eat lettuce. Strangely, the moment that I stopped forcing myself to eat lettuce, it started to become more appealing. Any food that is force-fed to us eventually creates resentment due to our lack of freedom to choose.

We should not force-feed ourselves.

Allow yourself to make a small list of healthy foods that you don't want to eat, so that you enjoy your individualized healthy food list, instead of resenting it. Commit to the idea of taking months of trial-and-error to develop a tasty healthy food plan with lots of great vegetables, fruits, and lean protein choices that you like. This will help you learn to eat healthier for years of your long-term plan of better weight and health.

What do *you* think? What is a healthy food that you don't like? Do you make yourself eat it, or do you allow yourself to reject it? How did you create your own healthy food plan that you enjoy?

Have a Splendid Day!

:-) Marion

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Be Aware of the Health “Halo Effect” of Food

A halo effect is the human tendency to over-attribute good qualities to certain products.  Similarly, the “horns effect” is the tendency to over-attribute bad qualities to certain products.

Regarding food, many people tend to misjudge their food as more “angelic” (the halo effect) or more “devilish” (the horns effect) to their diet than is the reality.

Here are some examples of commonly misjudged food:  

--Certain high-sugar yogurts are not very “healthy,” some containing as much sugar as soda pop.

--“Non-fat” food may be full of unhealthy ingredients including sugar, flour and additives to compensate for the missing fat.

--“Organic” food may be full of unhealthy ingredients including sugar, flour and additives.

--“Diet” foods may actually be the worst foods for your healthy diet because their ingredients aren’t healthy or satisfying.

-- Too large of portions of very “healthy foods” will still make you overweight if you eat too many calories. 

--“Fat” in food sounds bad but some amount of fat is actually necessary in a daily diet and helps a person feel satisfied with his or her meal.

--It is often better calorie-wise to eat a smaller serving of full-fat food than it is to eat a large serving of “diet food.”

Do not be confused with false advertising. Lots of “health food” is really not healthy at all.

My rule of thumb: Have a base diet of natural food found in a garden, off a tree, or on a farm. Most food you eat should have a single ingredient, such as an egg, a tomato, an apple, nuts, a banana, beans, a cucumber, grapes, onions, fresh herbs etc…Then, combine healthy single-ingredient foods together.

Refined foods, containing refined sugars and flour, are not healthy. Sugars and flour as ingredients cause carb cravings, which make you want to eat excess food. So avoid these refined foods whenever possible: muffins, cake, breakfast cereal, noodles, pancakes, tortillas, bread, cookies, candy, and all related foods.

Learn from my trials and errors: When you eat natural foods, not only do you get great nutrition, but it is easier to eat within calorie range. When I first started food journaling, I tried repeatedly for months to add favorite refined foods into my daily eating, but I could never get enough food per calories that way to feel satisfied so I kept overeating. When I started eating basic food like apples and eggs, I got satisfied with less calories, and the weight started coming off.

What do *you* think? What foods do you think people are misjudging?

Have a Super Day! 

:-) Marion

Friday, August 15, 2014

Embracing / Hugging Healthy Eating

Last night, my husband and I were at an outdoor concert of a band playing Billy Joel songs. It was very fun! During this date, I was asked to eat various food. It occurred to me that I could easily go back to my old ways of eating most foods offered to me and going back to that corresponding excess weight, but I don't want to!

So instead of eating a load of regret-filled food, I enjoyed the concert while having a few bites of my husband's food choices. And I was happy with a few bites. I recall that 10 years ago, I would have felt angry about the idea of eating less than him when I liked the food as much as he does. But that changed. My viewpoint changed.

I really embrace my healthy eating. What I mean is that I really enjoy different aspects of healthy eating, sort of like an interesting hobby. I don't resent that I eat less food now, but see it as a great thing for me. I don't view it as a "good attitude," which implies that I have to talk myself into and insert will power to have that viewpoint. It's not like that. Rather, I just really like it.

I believe that resentment is the biggest obstacle for health/weight goals. And once I concretely realized that, I really worked on giving up the huge grudge I had against health. I quit having victim mentality. I listened to several fit people tell me about their good eating and healthy living. And I soaked up their enthusiasm! Being fit and keeping a good weight can be fun! And it feels confident too.

Currently, I've been putting more fresh herbs in my salad, with fresh cilantro and basil being my favorites. I've also been drinking a new lemongrass/green tea, loose tea which is fun to make. I enjoy fresh summer fruit, especially mangoes and black plums. And, of course, those little herb-y tasting cucumbers and the green beans make summer very delightful. I made zucchini noodles with a zesty spaghetti sauce (with a kick of crushed red pepper) for the TOPS picnic this week. All of this is pretty fun and exploratory as well.

So, I've been keeping my weight off not because I kick myself when I go off track at times, but because I quickly yearn to get back on track. I like being on track. I really believe that my embracing / hugging of my healthy eating is key to keeping the weight off in the easiest way possible.

What do *you* think? Have you embraced your healthy eating? Or are you still resentful of foods you have to limit but want to change that viewpoint? What ways have you explored new foods and new ways of cooking/preparing food? Share your experiences.

Have a wonderful day!

:-) Marion