Thursday, April 28, 2011

Let's be honest...about fitness and nutrition

Have you ever uttered the words "this diet isn't working" or "I exercise but it's not working?"

I have.

Long, long ago, like last week as a matter of fact. No seriously, it was last week when I accidentally stepped on my bathroom scale and found out that I had gained three whole pounds.  Now I know that's not a lot, but it is when it is so hard to lose three pounds to begin with.  I am a fitness instructor, I teach several classes a week, I run, I'm active with the kids, I don't buy junk food (well, rarely), what gives.

OK let's be honest here.  How many of you really think that physical activity should take care of the problem without changing your eating habits?  Sounds like an infomercial doesn't it?  You know, "do this for 8 minutes, three times a week, don't change your diet or anything else, you will see yourself transformed into a chiseled, leaner person... blah, blah, blah..." really?  Don't believe anything they say, they just want to sell their crap.

Skipping meals because we're busy leads to eating poorly when the hunger pangs really hit.  Nope, it's definitely not thirst this time, it's huger and we'll eat just about anything... like a full bag of Stacy's Salted Pita Chips-YUM! Yes that's me, over indulging only to feel crappy later.  I know better and that's why I wont buy those things unless I'm having a party or willing to deal with the effect of over indulging in unhealthy food.

The best way to really see what we're doing or in my case, not doing about living a healthy lifestyle, is to write things down.  Journaling our progress helps us to stay true to ourselves and gets us back on track.  That goes with anything, any goal.  By writing down what I eat and how much I exercise I get a good idea of what I need to change to see change.  Some weeks I'm ready and some I'm not but I continue to work towards one goal-- living a healthy lifestyle, every day!

What I have noticed is that when I write down my activities and foods, even if only for a few days, I make changes before things get too ugly.  Journaling has helped me really see when I should be eating more protein, more fruit and veggies, and when I've skipped on my exercise routine.  It has helped me stay motivated and stay in the game.  Try it!  Your thoughts and comments are always welcome!

Stay Well,

Image source:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Diet or the "D" word

As a personal trainer I hear the word "diet" quite a bit from clients, friends, and even people I don't know. Do you have a diet that will help with this or that? Is there a diet that will burn this off?

That "D" word has become such an icon and so significant to people who want to lose weight, particularly those who want to lose weight super fast. Diet is defined in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as "food and drink regularly provided or consumed, habitual nourishment." Be it a diet of twinkies or a diet of fruits, it's a diet.  It does't have to be bad, tasteless, prohibitive, or restricting (unless there are specific reasons such as diebetes or high blood pressure.) It is simply what we eat everyday.

I was crawling through different sites today and came upon this article written by Michelle May, M.D. and posted in the Calorie Count website.  It highlights five important diet myths.  Read it, highlight it, post it on your fridge and every time you start to question your diet, read it again.  Very informative.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

5 Diet Myths and What You Can Learn from Them

By michelle_may_md on Apr 21, 2011 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

Diets are filled with rules about when, what, and how much to eat. While “the rules” may make sense on the surface, unless you understand why you do certain things, you’ll break the rules as soon as the temptation is greater than your motivation.

Let’s examine some of these myths, where they come from, and how to make long term changes that work for you.

Myth 1: Don’t Eat After 7pm 

Your metabolism doesn’t shut off at 7:01 pm so why is this rule so common? Many people who struggle with their weight overeat in the evening after dinner so they aren’t snacking because they’re hungry. They’re snacking because they’re bored, watching television, rewarding themselves, or feeling lonely.

Rather than using a temporary rule to address those habits, when you feel like eating in the evenings, ask, “Am I hungry?” If you’re truly hungry, eat, keeping in mind that your day is winding down so you don’t need a big meal. If you aren’t hungry, think about why you feel like eating anyway and come up with a better way to address that need. Ken, a man in one of our Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating workshops, realized he was just bored so he started doing stained glass to entertain himself while he watched TV.

Myth 2: Eat Small Meals Every 3 Hours

This rule is based on the fact that many people who don’t struggle with weight issues tend to eat frequent small meals. However, they don’t check their watch to tell them when it’s time to eat; they eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re satisfied. Since that tends to be a small-ish meal, they get hungry again in a few hours.

Instead of watching the clock, begin to tune in to the physical symptoms of hunger and fullness to tell you when to eat and when to stop. Your stomach is about the size of your fist so it only holds a couple of handfuls of food comfortably. By relearning to trust your body’s signals, you can learn to follow a frequent small meal pattern naturally.

Myth 3: Don’t Let Yourself Get Hungry

A corollary to myth 2, this rule is based on the belief that overweight people are incapable of controlling themselves when they’re hungry. In my experience with thousands of Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating workshop participants, the opposite is true.  Once people learn to tell the difference between physical hunger and head hunger, they begin to meet each need more appropriately. Perhaps the rule should be “Don’t let yourself get too hungry” since it’s harder to make conscious choices when you’re starving.

Myth 4: Follow Your Diet Six Days a Week Then You Can Have a Cheat Day

Hmmm…what if you were a harsh, overly strict parent six days a week then completely ignored your kids every Saturday? It doesn’t make sense to try to be perfect Sunday through Friday while obsessing about everything you’re going to eat on your “day off.” Then when Saturday comes, you overeat just because you’re allowed to so you end up feeling miserable all day. Personally, I’d rather enjoy eating a little of the foods I love every day, mindfully and in moderation.

Myth 5: Carbs are Bad… or Fat is Bad… or ______ is Bad

“Good food, bad food” thinking can lead to feelings of deprivation, cravings, overeating, and guilt.  All foods can fit into a healthy diet using the principles of balance, variety, and moderation to guide you. Use nutrition information as a tool, not a weapon.

A sustainable personal approach trumps short term rules.  Rather than walking a tight rope that you’ll fall off of sooner or later, dig a little deeper to better understand why, when, what, how, and how much you eat. You’ll gradually create a more flexible, personalized approach to making decisions that both nourish and nurture you.

Your thoughts....
Did you, or do you, buy in to any of these myths? 

Michelle May, M.D. is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Dr. May is also the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Workshops and Facilitator Training Program that helps individuals learn to break free from mindless and emotional eating to live a more vibrant, healthy life.

Stay Well,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Running my first 1/2

All this running around the base has got me itching for more.  Recently I've been finishing the 10 miles and feeling like I could just keep on running.  It really is a good feeling.  I never thought I'd say that.  IT'S A GOOD FEELING to finish!

We, my running partners and I, decided to try running a half marathon here in GTMO.  The challenge is running it without too many hills or repeating the same routes.   However, we are determined to make this work and we have been hitting the pavement and gravel roads had; I think it's time to take it up a notch or two.

We have been running at least 5 miles mid-week and 9-11 miles once a week, which I believe qualifies as training.  However, for the novice runner like me, I am going to engage in something a little more specific.  In my search for training advice I came across an app (application) from, which I downloaded to my iPad.  I put in a few details in the settings and after a few seconds the app came back with a training program that fits my schedule and does not take away what I already do, strength training/Spinning(r), etc.

In the past I only spoke of running in terms of me not being the one running, most definitely not running any distance to be proud of.  I insisted I could never run far or fast, a marathon wasn't even on my list of things I ever wanted to do.  I wasn't going to try and embarrass myself.

Here's the teachable moment:0

My two good friends, Wendy and Kristin, were convinced that I could run and the only thing keeping me from running was my own mind.  I ran a couple of 5Ks and was embarrassed to not come in with a decent time.  I stopped to walk so many times that I really didn't care to be there again.  I'm a fitness instructor, I should be able to do this but I kept telling myself I could not, never.

My friends, however thought differently.  We went for a run, supposedly a 6 mile run.  Up hills we walked but ran most of the way THERE... upon arrival I realized I had just ran four miles.  I also realized I needed to come back another four.  I have been tricked and I was sort of excited about it.  A little scared but excited.  At the end of this run, right back where we started, my GPS unit said that I just ran 8.28 miles.  WOW! I was filled with joy.  I don't think my friends realize, still today, how happy I was to have finished this run. I was hooked.  We have been running just about every weekend up to eleven miles and another 5 mid-week.  Impressive.  YES!!

The moral of the story is this:  Surround yourself with people who believe in you and in what you are capable of doing and you will accomplish more then you ever imagined.  Spending time around negative people just brings you down; like an anchor, holds you down until you drown.  It's not rude to step away from those who keep you down; politely step away and wisely choose the company you keep.  Constructive criticism is good, negative feedback is not acceptable.

I'm willing to bet that if I continue to spend my time with these ladies and others like them I will be running that  marathon.  That's right.  I'm setting my sights on completing a marathon.  But for now I will continue working on this 1/2 while keeping my eyes on the ultimate goal.

Stay tuned!

Photo source: