Monday, December 28, 2009

MYTH: Physical activity is icing on the cake—it doesn’t do anything for me, really.

Answer: Busted.

Let’s explore physical activity as a part of losing weight.

Again, using the analogy of the appliance, one of the questions to consider is ‘What way will give me the “best product for my money” (or, best weight loss for my effort)?’ If weight loss is the only thing we want from our New Year’s Resolution, then physical activity may not be an aspect of the “appliance” we want to buy with our time and effort. Why is that? Most weight loss occurs with reducing calories. Physical activity uses some calories, but not nearly enough to result in a meaningful amount of weight loss in a reasonable length of time. If our resolution is really to improve our health by losing weight, then that is a whole different matter—physical activity is crucial!

Physical activity has been shown to reduce blood pressure, without any other behavior changes! Also, being physically active helps us to keep our muscles strong, even when we are losing weight. Why is this important? Well, the lean part of our bodies (muscle and major organs—like the heart and liver, to name a few) is the part of the body that uses the calories we eat or drink. If our body has more muscle, then we are going to burn more calories every day—more than another “body” our same age and size that is less lean. Physical activity also reduces the chance of developing heart disease and diabetes more than just weight loss by itself.

Our proposed resolution just made a change to: “lose weight to be healthier.”

While the holiday season is a great time to practice changing eating behaviors, it can also be a time to practice being more physically active. A lot of people shop more during this time, which gives us practice time! Some ideas to experiment with include the following:

Plan your after-Christmas/New Year's shopping trips to include walking the longest distances between stores or items being purchased—forget about saving time and being efficient! Going from one end of the mall or store to the other end to buy items on your list will automatically increase the steps you are taking.

After completing your shopping trip, take a final “lap” around the mall or store—adds steps with little extra time.

Consider buying yourself a pedometer. Using a pedometer is one way to track the number of steps taken per day.

Did you know that cleaning house is considered a moderate activity? Maybe spend some time everyday cleaning house? A more organized, company ready home would be a bonus!

How about walking the dog? People who walk their dogs log in more steps that than who don’t. Plus, the regularly walked dog will help keep you walking often—who can resist those eyes begging for a walk?

While you are practicing including physical activity in your life this week, think about what keeps you from being physically active during your “regular” life. Knowing what keeps us from doing what we want to do is excellent information to help us choose our final New Year’s Resolution.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

MYTH: It is impossible to eat healthy during the holidays!

Answer: Busted.

Hard, maybe, but not impossible! So, how do we eat healthily during the holidays? As promised, here are some more hints that you might use to practice changing your eating habits during December:

· Consider keeping snacks handy that are low in calories, but pack a punch of nutrients. Having cut-up fresh vegetables and fruit on hand will help you to choose healthy snacks, which helps you to avoid getting too hungry and overeating. Buy fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season to get the best value for your money.
· Do you know it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know it is full? Eating too quickly can lead to that “stuffed” feeling—just because we didn’t give our stomach enough time to signal—full, full, full!! Enjoy your food! Take a bite and savor the flavor, aroma, texture of the food. Be aware of what and how much you are eating.
· Plan what you will do if you are tested with a food that is too high in calories, salt, fat—whatever eating habit you are practicing to change. Planning ahead is another way to practice changing eating habits—just thinking through what you will do helps to make that action a reality when the situation does occur.
· After you have eaten to your satisfaction, remove your plate, especially if there is still food on it. We tend to pick at the food that is in front of us—no matter how full we are. If you cannot get rid of the plate, make the food look unappetizing—mix all the “leftovers” together, put ketchup or lots of pepper on it, visualize worms in it—anything to make it unappealing to you!

See Missouri Families and Mypyramid for additional tips.

Practice, practice, practice! Physical activity hints coming up next!

Friday, December 11, 2009

MYTH – Changing habits is “as easy as pie”.

Answer: Busted.

For those of us who have made the same New Year’s Resolution for several years in a row, we KNOW how hard it is to change our habits—regardless of what they are. Changing a habit takes determination and practice.

Of course, the first step in changing a habit is deciding which one to change and then go from there. December is the perfect month to really think about what habit we want to change in 2010. As an added bonus, this month gives us time to practice a bit before settling on a specific resolution.

Let’s consider making a resolution to lose some weight next year. In thinking through what needs to change to lose weight, three ways come to mind—changing what we eat or changing our physical activity or both. If we think about losing weight as something we are going to buy (like a major appliance), maybe we should think about what “appliance” will work best for us, how much it “costs” and will it give us the “service” we want? Some example questions to help us decide which way to use to lose weight are: What will I have to do to make each of these ways work for me? What way “fits” best into my life right now? What way will give me the “best product for my money” (or, best weight loss for my effort)?

The holiday season is a great time to practice changing eating behaviors. Some ideas to experiment with include the following:
· When taking food to a party or office-gathering, consider taking low-calorie snacks like vegetable trays. Put cottage cheese in a food processor or blender, add a bit of water and a package of flavoring for a lower calorie, more nutritious vegetable dip. Salsa is also a great low-calorie sauce to use with pita crisps.
· How about using a smaller plate? Research has shown that using larger plates results in more food being eaten. Take a few snacks and move away from the table. People who stand and talk by the food table tend to eat more than those that don’t. Mingle with everyone at the party—focus on the fun and the people, instead of the food.
· Watch those beverages! Drink diet soda, diet tonic water or a glass of water instead of multiple glasses containing calorie-loaded fluid!

Look for more hints next week!

Monday, December 7, 2009

MYTH - Do Successful New Year's Resolutions Just Happen?

Answer: Busted.

It is hard to believe that 2009 is nearly over. How does 2010 sound to you? Futurist, as one of my friends said just yesterday? While we don’t have control over all aspects of our future, steps can be made NOW that will help us in the future.

If you haven’t started thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions yet, it might be time to start. Thinking about your future and what you want it to look like is the first step in changing how it might be. For example, think about your parents’ health and how it might affect yours. Has one of your parents had high blood cholesterol or a heart attack? If so, is your blood cholesterol too high? Or, how about Type II diabetes? For just about any life situation, your parents’ situation and health can help you to predict yours later in life—and knowing that, you can change things NOW to change how your future plays out. So, consider thinking about what resolution you want to make in the New Year.

If you have already decided to think about New Year’s and what you want to change, what do you need to go forward? Ideas for next steps? Support from family and friends? Ideas about what you can do? How to motivate yourself to follow through with your resolution?

Stay tuned to this blog for more ideas to make your resolution a reality!