Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Diet Success Facts & Politics: TOPS v. Weight Watchers

Did you know that TOPS, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) was founded about about 15 years (founded in 1948) before Weight Watchers (founded in 1963)? Did you know that TOPS has approximately 10,000 chapters and approximately 170,000 members? Cite: TOPS statistics

Why don't you don't hear much about TOPS?

The little known fact about Diet Politics: TV shows have sponsors who pay money to advertise. If a diet management corporation wants to advertise itself, it has to pay the promotion price.

Explained recently at TOPS State Recognition Days (Wisconsin): When a certain TOPS member was on the Dr. Oz Show, this member could not talk about TOPS whatsoever or wear TOPS symbols on clothing during the show -- at all. So this TOPS member could not truthfully tell the Dr. Oz audience about personal success stemming from being a TOPS member. On the other hand, the person who lost weight with Weight Watchers could talk about Weight Watchers success because Weight Watchers, Inc. had paid the promotion price to the Dr. Oz Show.

Does better publicity mean that Weight Watchers is better than TOPS?

TOPS is a non-profit corporation with rock-bottom membership costs. TOPS costs approximately $90 per year to belong, including all weekly fees. In my chapter, it costs even less than that. This means that all people can afford to belong, but also that we aren't fancy and cannot afford expensive promotional advertising. TOPS partners with The Medical College of Wisconsin for its obesity research.

Weight Watchers is between $480 and $625 annually for a member. I personally think it is a pretty good organization with a good record, however, for many people, this is too high of a membership cost to sustain for very long. On the other hand, Weight Watchers is held at higher end locations and has paid leaders and can afford promotional advertising to tell the public of its benefits.

Many people think that Weight Watchers is the only affordable reliable weight management option, because they have never heard of TOPS or OA (Overeaters Anonymous).

How does TOPS rate for success versus Weight Watchers? 

The University of Colorado researchers found that TOPS was very effective, versus "pricier commercial programs": 

...Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus found those who spent three years in the nonprofit Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) program lost five to seven percent of their body weight and kept it off. “This is the first time a study of this size and duration has ever been done on a weight loss program,” said Nia Mitchell, MD, MPH, and a primary care physician who worked on the study.  “The natural history of weight loss is weight regain and we were happy to see that people were able to keep off the weight.”

The three-year study, published September in the research journal, Obesity, followed thousands of people enrolled in TOPS. The program provided access to their database, but no funding for the research.  Milwaukee-based TOPS helps members lose weight through group support and education. They are encouraged to get a weight goal from their doctors and make it their target. At the same time, they attend weekly meetings and weigh-ins.  ...

The study points out the large price difference between TOPS and other well-known weight loss programs.  TOPS costs about $90 a year while Weight Watchers is between $480 and $625 annually. Programs like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig, which include the price of food, can cost between $3,600 and $6,500 a year. 

Mitchell said there have been studies of popular commercial weight loss programs but [there has been] little investigation [studies] of nonprofits [weight loss programs] like TOPS or Overeaters Anonymous.

Cite here: University of Colorado's Research About TOPS Success.

As this research explains, personally for me, consistently participating in TOPS for over 3 years now has greatly contributed to my success. I have been through several weight ups and downs, but I could easily afford to outlast a period of discouraging times while staying in the TOPS program. (In earlier years, when I was discouraged with Weight Watchers and couldn't afford the weekly fees either, it was an easy choice to quit for both reasons.) So affordability plays a huge factor in sustainability of a long-term decision.

Weight Watchers Research: Weight Watchers programs offered as good if not better results than with programs led by medical professionals.

What do *you* think? Did this give you new information for you to make better choices? Do any of you belong to OA (Overeaters Anonymous)? I would certainly like to hear more about OA. Does any of the diet organization politics, described above, surprise you?

Have a Beautiful Day!

:-) Marion

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Be Tough (And Don't Be A Baby) To Lose Weight And Keep It Off

Intro: People often tell me that they'd basically like to keep their life the same, but just change how they eat to lose weight. Sometimes people ask me: Do you have to change your personality in order to lose weight? I'm addressing these issues today on my blog.

Do you have to change your personality to lose weight and keep it off? 

Definitely yes. You have to get more tough on yourself in a number of ways. You have to get more fussy about food choices, instead of eating just anything others are eating. You have to carefully watch serving sizes, smaller portions in the first place. No second helpings unless it is something like veggies or fruit.

Mentally, if you used to eat to make yourself feel better, you have to learn to quit doing that. Or at least minimize it a great deal. You can learn how to have a better perspective about your life. This kerfuffle that is taking over your life today will pass, and in another week, there will be the next pretend-crisis to replace it. You can accept that is how life is, and realize that no excess food is necessary to survive these daily events. They pass on their own.

We don't have to be happy every moment. I used to eat treats to make sure that every moment was bliss. However, this is very much a false view of life because the troubles I didn't deal with were still there while I was on my candy-as-a-drug high, chemicals zinging happily in my mind. Some days are just happier than others. I have had to learn to practice more gratefulness about non-food items. I have learned to do other fun things when I get stressed out. Sometimes, if I can't stop being angry, I just channel the anger into housecleaning, to make that energy burst into something productive.

We have to be vigilant, not allowing ourselves to drive our diet motorcycles straight off the cliff. By ending food recklessness, we learn to practice a special kind of self-care. We should never be "rebels without a cause" about our food. That is self-sabotage, and it is something mentally and physically destructive we can avoid doing to ourselves.

When we are at the grocery store or facing food choices, we need to be tough with ourselves. To the level of harsh, almost. To take the humor approach, I walk by cookies/crackers and outwardly call them "evil." I smile, but it's not really a joke. Cookies and crackers create a lot of serious health problems for food addicts. I can't stop at a serving, so I don't fool myself. I can't handle those foods at all. I say "no" to more foods, more often, many more times.

See my blogging friend Jane's great blog post on this subject. Jane is very funny, but incredibly serious too. She walks her straight line, and clearly knows what violates her food rules.

So when people tell me that they are simply going to tweak their eating to lose weight, I never really think that person will succeed for very long. I'm not trying to sound mean about this, but it really is a huge lifestyle change filled with being much tougher and more vigilant every single day all day long. Losing weight and keeping it off does not involve a superficial fix.

But it is also filled with being more proud of yourself too. Most people who have lost weight and kept it off will tell you -- All of the increased toughness is totally *worth it.* We love and enjoy ourselves so much more for deeply caring about our bodies and for stopping the mind games involving being a slave to food. We got off the scary/embarrassing food roller coaster and set our feet onto firm ground that makes good sense in every way possible. It is a very much happier way to live.

Today is Tuesday. As many of you know, I have a 24 hour fast from Monday evening at about 6 p.m. until Tuesday evening at about 6:00 p.m. Why do I do this fast? Because it is my message to me to: Quit being a baby about my eating!!! I do *not* have to eat excess food to be happy. After not eating for a full day, a plain apple or orange, or a bowl of mixed vegetables taste absolutely delicious!!! I use Tuesdays, as I have to the past 3 years, to remind myself to not be so spoiled about food. Because I am a food addict, I need this blatant reminder about every 7 days -- each Tuesday.

Every day, I need to remind myself: Be tough (and don't be a baby) to keep my weight off. I am worth fighting for. And so are you.

What do *you* think? Do you agree or disagree with what I said above? I appreciate your opinions, since there is definitely far more than one way/opinion on this topic. 

Have a Wonderful Day!

:-) Marion

Update on me: Hi! I'm finally back from one of those Lowe's "little" house projects on our house, getting it ready for our daughter's graduation party. Well, what they don't tell you on the commercials is how *exhausting* the combo of indoor/outdoor spackling/taping/painting, weeding/gardening, and full-fledged spring cleaning for 2 weeks in a row really is!!! But it turned out great. Now recuperated, I can say it was all worth it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

One Day at a Time, One Hour at a Time, One Bite at a Time...

When I think about all of the mind games that can steer us wrong, it's a wonder than any of us keep our weight off on the long-term, and yet we do. Some days are fairly easy to eat right.

However, many other days seem quite stressful and less certain. I don't know about your situation, but junk food is always around me and I also have highly stressful situations at work. Contrary to many people's beliefs about me, I am never in a state of Zen. I attack my problems before they attack me. I try to never let people or problems take nibbles out of me, though I still have some very hard days. 

So what do I do on the hardest days? I try to deal with the present situation, ignoring both the past and the future. I take my eating issues one day at a time, one hour at a time, and one bite at a time.

Can I eat well for the next hour? Then eat well for the hour after that? And keep that going? That is all that is necessary. Keeping weight off does not involve monumental heroics, but many good little decisions all day long. And believing in yourself that you can manage the next little chunk of time in front of you.

It's the daily process that counts most.

Food prep is crucial. A chopped cucumber gets eaten, while a whole cucumber lays in the back of the fridge. Chop your healthy food up. Place it in containers. Make yourself iced tea or cool mint-infused water ready in the fridge.

What's in front of us gets eaten. So the family's junk food needs to get put far out of sight in functional undelicious-looking containers, preferably on high shelves.

Meanwhile, the fresh fruit and veggies need to get put out on the kitchen counter top, to be the first thing you see as you walk in the kitchen. Not to make us seem robotic or anything, but most of us will generally eat whatever is in front of us, so plan for it. :-)

Good food choices (low carb foods are always best) and not allowing weight maintenance to get overwhelming are key. We can all handle that small moment in front of us. Really. Don't make eating well into a huge ordeal. Make eating well manageable as easily do-able small tasks to avoid the mind games.

What do *you* think?

Have a delightful day!!!

:-) Marion

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Honesty to One's Self Regarding Health & Eating

This week, at my TOPS meeting, I told my group that I did not feel very honest to myself regarding the subject content within our TOPS Pledge.

The TOPS Pledge contains these words:

TOPS Pledge
I am an intelligent person.
I will control my emotions,
not let my emotions control me.
Every time I am tempted to use food
to satisfy my frustrated desires,
build up my injured ego,
or dull my senses,
I will remember,
even though I overeat in private,
my excess poundage is there
for all the world to see.

The words of the TOPS Pledge are quite profound to me. On many occasions over the past 3 years, I have found myself telling a family member or friend something like, "This week I ate to soothe my injured ego because people have been constantly chewing me out," or "I just ate that food to dull my senses because I am so frustrated."   

In TOPS, a main premise of our organization to honestly to one's self. It's a huge thing. We each have to be able to personally face the "why" of our overeating in order to do something about it. 

Further, I have learned that I have to appreciate when I'm doing okay in a dog-eat-dog world, so that I can acknowledge my victorious attempts of still trying to do "my best" despite stressful situations. Each day, I endeavor to attack those problems instead of letting them attack me. That is a character strength, even if it often doesn't feel that way or results are not as good as we wanted. If we lay the stress on ourselves of needing to be "great" within very frustrating circumstances, we probably cannot meet up to that unrealistic standard. This unrealistic standard creates stress, for which we seek relief, often with overeating comfort food. 

"Okay" is a very much harder standard to accomplish in the worst situations 
than "Great" is to accomplish in optimal situations.  

TLC--tender loving care to ourselves during our hardest ordeals and most frustrating moments. Self-love for just trying to do our best is also part of the honesty we need to achieve our health and eating goals.

Be honest about why you overeat, but also be equally honest that --you are a good person who is fully deserving of good things. 

What do *you* think? What do you think is involved in self-honesty regarding health and eating?

Have a great day during which you have practiced self-love!  

 :-) Marion

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Exercise/Gym Update: April 12, 2015

Today, it is a personal post, regarding my current exercises and gym experiences.

I've been going to a new gym for the past 2 1/2 months. So far, it's been...GREAT! This gym is a longer trip from my house, but there is more weightlifting equipment in a bigger space and a well-thought set-up. I have met a few of the old regulars of the weightlifting area, which is always fun. I'm sort of a weird fitness person doing my own thing, doing a big bench press sets with the 45 pound plates and then doing yoga balancing poses in between sets, so I often get invited into lively and fun conversations about exercise.

One of the older weightlifting guys asked me if I know how to rehab knees. I told him how I was in constant pain last year with my knee --but this year, it's totally pain-free. I showed him my leg twirls that helped my knee get rehabbed. I hope that helps him.

Another guy asked about weak/sore back, in which I suggested that he might try Lat Pull Downs set at a light amount of weight to rehab his back. Lat Pull Downs are a deeply under-appreciated exercise. Everyone should do them.

Personally, I have done 700 pushups in the past 4 weeks. (No...I don't do them all at once!!! Lol.) I do sets of 10 and then take a break to tidy the house, sort mail, or stir what I'm cooking. I do not like pushups at all, however, pushups allow me to do a great bench press, which I *do* like quite a bit. So I force myself to do them, which is good for me to force myself to get unlikeable things done to get a happy result at the gym.

I'm still doing chin-ups and standing back bends each Sunday-- at age 47. I was talking to a 40-year-old woman in the locker room who totally agreed-- at our age, it feels amazing and awe-inspiring that we can do the exercises we do! We enjoy our personal fitness capabilities so much!! Younger people take these same exercises for granted so they don't feel the joy of accomplishment that we feel.

I am back on track for yoga too. Last year, when my knee was so hurt, I could not do many yoga poses. Contrary to popular opinion, yoga can be incredibly hard on knees, especially if they are previously hurt. So I abruptly stopped doing several yoga poses last year. But now both knees feel great, so I'm back to doing all the yoga poses I love to do.

I have given up Bosu ball balancing. One day, hours after leaving the gym, my one hip felt...I don't even know how to describe it. But the hip issue was with me for 2 days. I knew it was from Bosu ball balancing, and I didn't want that feeling in my hip joint. Bosu ball is just not worth any sort of joint issue for me.

As one guy at the gym was telling me, they show an adventurous/reckless exercise on youtube.com, but they don't show the aftermath of all of the people who are injured from doing that exercise. So true! More and more, I am choosing tightly controlled exercises and avoiding Bosu balls, big kicks, jumping, side hops, and anything that is more likely to get me unbalanced that I hurt myself. This is my personal choice based upon how much I truly resent being injured.

As one older weightlifting guy was saying to me, he doesn't understand why the younger weightlifters take so much needless risk. My comment back was: We see this mainly as a journey, while they see it primarily as a goal. Perspective is everything!

Walking: I walk Keebler one mile per day in our neighborhood. Besides that, I tend to walk 2 to 3 miles just doing my normal activities. Usually, on Saturday, I have a bigger walking day involving shopping. I think this is a walking amount that feels great.

Lastly, I've been trying to make a grocery trip right after gym when I'm feeling physically at my best. The foods I purchased reflected how I was feeling. I had a delicious salad with fresh dill in it. Fresh herbs transform salads. My son commented that the salad did not need dressing. 

What do *you* think? What good things are happening for your fitness and eating?

Have a Marvelous Day!

:-) Marion

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Your Personal Health Victories Mean *Everything*

I saw this from My Real Yoga Body and was wowed by it:


“My yoga teacher took this of me today. When I look at this my first reaction is of disgust. I didn’t see what my teacher saw. ‘Look at your top arm and leg. The openness at your chest and hips is beautiful!! How straight your are able to get, and how you are supporting yourself and balancing on one arm and leg.’ Years of hating myself won’t go away over night, but with the help of supportive friends I’ll get there. Yoga is for EVERY BODY.

Richard Widmark, Jr., the yogi above, now loves yoga. He found yoga to be special on his own terms. Much of what he says is very much how I have experienced yoga for myself. For more of his story, watch his videos at his blog

Our own personal health victories mean *everything!* no matter what anyone else thinks.

Our personal health victories are about each of us personally.

It is a self-exploration about who we are as individuals.

The victory comes from little triumphs that are most appreciated internally, little yays!!! in our mind as we are each the best cheerleader for our own selves.

It is about being more than we imagined. It is about stretching to a broader expanse than we knew was possible in our lives, both physically and mentally.

It is about seeing our own selves as beautiful and poetic in our own originality.

We should *not* try to be someone else or copy their personal goals,
but deeply appreciate our own wonders as they unfold and are revealed to us.

Our best victories are tucked into a corner of our soul to be cherished by ourselves. 

What do *you* think? How do you view your personal health victories? What advice could you give to others about this topic?

Have a Beautiful and Poetic Day!

:-) Marion 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Visualizing Yourself as "Fit," and "Slim": The Mind Game You Must Win

The hardest part of losing weight and keeping it off is: the mind game, of course!!! We can more easily change what we see in the mirror than how we see ourselves in our minds. So this post is aptly named -- Visualizing Yourself as "Fit" and "Slim": The Mind Game You Must Win.

Good habits and rules are superficial unless we have changed how we view ourselves. Over and over, I see that people who have changed their health for the long-term have changed how they view themselves.

How we view ourselves in our mind is our current standard for ourselves, whether we like this standard or not. If we strive for something different, we are very likely to eventually gravitate back to our mind's standard of our self. After this long of living your life, it is very hard to distinguish the truth from the mental garbage, especially if you feel that you should be doing better for yourself.

 cite: http://dobrador.com/overcoming-obstacles/
Hey, I have no problem with this technique if it works for you. ;-)

Separating the truth from the mental garbage takes new deliberate thoughts and actions. Perhaps you believe that you don't like exercising, but maybe that is only based upon bad experiences from phys. ed. Most people I know absolutely hated phys. ed. because it is demoralizing. But what if you found new friends at gym who were your age, but encouraged you to have fun and that you are "worth it," could that change your view of fitness? Definitely!

Perhaps you believe that you don't like vegetables because your mom always cooked them up mushy and tasteless, creating a bad experience with food. However, could you challenge yourself to take a new try at vegetables by trying a simple recipe on Pinterest that incorporates flavorful spices? I have found that after learning how to spice my veggies better, I like them so much more!!!

If you've had many years of feeling "chubby," it is very hard to visualize yourself as "slim." In fact, after I lost weight, it was still hard to see myself as being much slimmer. It takes time, and it helps a great deal to gain friends who have "slim thoughts," versus "chubby thoughts." These slim thinking friends offer fruit to you as a snack, rather than a cookie or doughnut. They eat salads beside you. They make water look like it's a trend you want to join. They regularly exercise. The more slim thinking friends you have, the more normal that it seems in your own life. When "slim," actually gets "normal" in your life--that's a new health standard for yourself!

If you've had an adulthood of feeling "out of shape," it is time to find some "fitness thinking" friends. These fitness thinking people have *FUN!!!!* in the gym. They have gym projects that they enjoy!!! They love to talk about fitness and exercise! They love to encourage a receptive gym goer. The more fitness thinking friends in your life, the more normal it seems in your own life. When "fit," actually becomes "normal" in your life -- you did it, you've started seeing yourself as "fit."

cite: http://quoteswave.com
Arnold wants to give you a great big bear hug! 

If you can't seem to find "slim thinking" and/or "fit thinking" friends in your community, carefully read blogs and fitness books until you start to relate to these people--like me. This week, I re-opened some classic bodybuilding fitness books because Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dave Draper, and Lou Ferrigno had super high standards for eating and weightlifting. When I contemplate and absorb their messages, it helps me "belong" in this healthy eating/fitness fanatic group. All of this applies to me too! (And while I write this, I'm eating a bowl frozen blueberries instead of the Snickers ice cream in the freezer, thinking that Arnold, Dave, and Lou would highly approve of my choice.)

You can change how you internally view yourself. It isn't easy, but all of this self-exploratory work is definitely worth it!!! When you change how you feel about yourself inside, your outside will physically manifest that new belief. Indeed, these new thoughts and standards that I learned and developed for myself is how I turned from extremely chubby to the much healthier person I am now.

What do *you* think? How did you change your "chubby thinking" into "slim thinking"? How did you get yourself to get higher health standards for yourself? Did friends, mentors, or role models help change your mind for the better? And anything else you'd like to add.

Have a Terrific Day !

:-) Marion