Friday, August 27, 2010

I Feel Your Pain - Part 4

Is your weight loss plan working? If not, why? Rather than bounce around from one diet to another trying to find the “right” one, it’s better to figure out why your action plan isn’t working and what you need to change. The following five questions are a great way to tweak any diet plan you may have.

1. Do I have a reason(s) to lose weight that is more important to me than continuing as I am?
I’m not asking if others want you to lose weight, or if you think you should because it’s healthier. It is more important that you make your own list of reasons that are more exciting, fun, enjoyable, and rewarding than living the life you do now.

2. Did I write down my action plan?
If just thinking about losing weight were all it took, we would all weigh what we wanted. But it takes discipline, organization, and planning. By writing out your plan you are making a promise to make it a priority. It’s also a good way to share the plan with someone who cares about you. Your chance of success increases when you become accountable to others.

3. Did I set realistic, measurable goals for my short and long term weight loss?
We all get enthused about new diets and try to quickly lose pounds that took years to put on. Pounds lost with fad diets usually return with a vengeance once you stop dieting (and you always will). Instead, focus on moderate lifestyle changes that lead to permanent weight loss over time. You will know your plan is working and realistic if you lose no more than a couple of pounds per week on average.

4. Did I set realistic solutions to over-eating my favorite foods that cause me to gain weight?
Food that causes you the most problem may need to be on your stop-eating list. For some, eating less of a favorite food is like a smoker cutting down on cigarettes, or an alcoholic trying to drink less. You need to decide if eating that particular food at all is worth missing out on whatever you put down for answer # 1. Will a few minutes of pleasure be as rewarding as playing with your grandchild for the next 10 years?

5. Did I figure out the habits that sabotage my weight loss and replace them with different behavior?
You need to become a problems-solver. Only you can determine what will work best in your schedule. I could list numerous habits, like snacking in front of the TV or not exercising, and then tell you what to do about them. But it won’t help if the solutions I give aren’t workable in your situation. This is the toughest and most important part of any action plan, so don’t give up. There are better, more rewarding behaviors that can replace any sabotaging habit you might have. You will know you are on the right track when the pounds start to melt away!

The author submits this blog posting as a health educator and not in any other capacity. You should seek the advice of your physician regarding a personal health condition or before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Feel Your Pain - Part 3

Do you know enough about dieting to write your own diet book, yet there are times when you can’t seem to stay at your ideal weight? I can relate. It’s not that we don’t all know what we should be doing. We like what we do; we just don’t always like the results. Getting back on track, and the pounds off, has more to do with behavior than with food. Habits are hard to change, and only happen when the new behavior is of more benefit, more fun, or easier than the old. It helps to write down what you are doing so you can figure out what needs to change and how it can happen.

Here’s my personal list of five problem habits, justifications I’ve been using, and strategies for positive action. I’m confident these changes will help me reach my fun-weight, mountain-bike-racing goal. I’ll let you know how it goes. I hope you’ll make your own list, even if it just starts with one positive change.

Skipping breakfast
• Why it’s not a good idea – 78% of enrollees in the National Weight Control Registry (those who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year) eat breakfast regularly. Your body needs fuel at the beginning of the day, not at the end.
• My justification – usually I start working by 6:30 every morning, and once I open my email it is really tough to take a break, even to eat. I tell myself that I’ll grab something later, and before I know it, it’s nearly mid-day.
• My strategy for change – until I’ve eaten breakfast, I’ll not look at any emails.

• Why it’s a problem – snacking is rarely done because of hunger, and it’s easy to eat several hundred calories without thinking. Big snacks mean big slacks.
• My justification – hey, I missed breakfast! I’ve got to eat something to tide me over so I don’t overeat at lunch.
• My strategy for change – I’ll eat meals when I should, and will be sure to consume plenty of fiber foods to keep me full longer. No more eating except at meals.

Eating too fast

• What it does – causes you to eat more food than you need, and doesn’t give your brain time to tell you that you’re satisfied with less.
• My justification – I’m in a hurry and have things that need to get done. I don’t have extra time to waste when I eat.
• My strategy – I’ll schedule my meals just like any other appointment I have during the day so that I’ll have enough time to put my fork or spoon down after each bite, and to savor what’s on my plate.

Eating too late
• Can get you in 2 ways – you don’t need as much energy intake when you aren’t active, and most of us aren’t late in the day. You also won’t be hungry at breakfast time the next morning, so you’ll tend to skip the most important meal.
• My justification – I need to eat then because that’s when I have the most time. Also, that’s when it’s the best time to socialize with others.
• My strategy – I’ll eat my lowest calorie meal in the evening, no closer than 4 hours before I go to bed. I don’t have to eat a big meal in order to be sociable.

Not balancing calories in/calories out
• What happens – if you eat more calories than you burn off, you gain weight. Simple as that.
• My justification – I’m usually active every day, so even on the days I’m not it can’t do much harm if I still eat like I usually do, can it?
• My strategy – On days when I can’t exercise, I’ll not eat as much as I usually do, focusing even more on foods that are high-volume and low-calorie. That’s fiber foods, folks!

The author submits this blog posting as a health educator and not in any other capacity. You should seek the advice of your physician regarding a personal health condition or before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Feel Your Pain - Part 2

Let’s get honest here. We all have favorite foods that can make us fat, so I’ve taken a good hard look at those that are addictive to me and will be obstacles to my weight loss plan over the next 8 weeks.

Here is a list of my personal problem foods, along with my reasons (excuses) for eating them the way I do, and also the strategies I’ll use to change my behavior.

o My problem - handy, high-calorie finger food with no prep time, so it’s easy to grab a handful without thinking, just because they’re there.
o My excuse – I know they are very high in fat, but hey – those monounsaturated fats are good for me!
o My strategy – I won’t keep nuts in the house, and will limit myself to eating nut butter once per day – a small amount on whole grain toast.

o My problem – high-calorie and easy for me to munch on throughout the day.
o My excuse – granola is better than a candy bar, and it’s made from healthy ingredients. There are far worse things for me to snack on!
o My strategy – I’ll limit granola to ½ cup per day, eaten only at breakfast time.

o My problem - they’re a comfort food for me, and I usually crave them at night when watching TV, or after a stressful day as a reward.
o My excuse - I’ll only eat a few at a time (which I never do), and I deserve an occasional snack.
o My strategy – I won’t let them into my shopping cart in the first place, so if I do get a craving they won’t be readily available to me.

o My problem – I can easily eat 2 whole avocados (322 calories each, 80% fat) at one time when made into guacamole– usually with chips!
o My excuse – the fat in avocado is healthy, plus they also contain a lot of fiber. That’s good.
o My strategy – no more guac! I’ll only eat avocado if I can share one with my wife, so I don’t eat more than half at a time.

Restaurant foods

o My problem – Portions are big, and it’s easy to underestimate salt, sugar, fat and calories – even if I order “healthy.”
o My excuses – it’s convenient and easy; I don’t like to take food home, or leave it on my plate.
o My strategy – when not traveling, I’ll eat at a restaurant no more than once per week; when on the road, will eat only 2 meals out per day, and no later than 5 p.m.; will split entrees with my wife or ask for half-portions when ordering. Never hurts to ask! I’ll stop eating when no longer hungry, no matter how much is left on the plate.

Join me on my journey and go through the same exercise – figure out what foods cause you to gain weight and what you’re going to do about them. Doing this will help solidify your action plan for success.

The author submits this blog posting as a health educator and not in any other capacity. You should seek the advice of your physician regarding a personal health condition or before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Trying to lose weight? I feel your pain – Part 1

It’s been a while since I posted, and that’s because I’ve been too busy to write – or at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I’ve also been on the road a lot. My blog isn’t the only thing that’s suffered as a result. I don’t care what anybody tells you, if you’re busy, traveling, and eating out, it is tough to keep off the pounds.

I now find myself registered to do a “just for fun” 24-hour mountain bike endurance race in October, and with only about 8 weeks to go before the event I’m 10 pounds over my ideal “just for fun” race weight. If you also want to lose weight, I’m in the struggle along with you, and I’m feeling your pain.

As I get down to the weight I want to be, I’m going to take a good, hard look at all of the reasons (really just excuses) that will interfere with the achievement of my goal. I’m going to bear my soul and write about them, as well as the tactics I’ll use to overcome them. Some habits, as well as the way I think, will need to change in order for me to accomplish what I want, and that may not be too much fun. Whether I succeed or fail, I’ll report my progress to you along the way.

I’ve already taken the first steps to successful behavior change: by writing this blog, I’m making a public commitment and seeking support; I’ve set realistic and measurable long- and short-term goals (10 pounds in 2 months, 1 ½ pounds per week); I’m convinced that the benefits of my changes will outweigh the negatives; and I’ll be routinely measuring my progress.

Follow along, and I’ll take you right up to race day. You can also follow me on Twitter - @DrSeale.

The author submits this blog posting as a health educator and not in any other capacity. You should seek the advice of your physician regarding a personal health condition or before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.