Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Myth: I have to count calories to lose weight.

Answer: Busted!

There are many ways to cut calories without having to keep track of them. Here are a few simple ways:
  • Cut back on fat. Choose lean cuts of meat and low-fat milk or dairy products.
  • Eat smaller portions. Even low-calorie foods can add up when your portions are bigger than you need.
  • Use low-fat cooking techniques. Try baking, broiling or grilling.
  • Use a smaller plate. Your plate will be full but will have less food on it. Less food equals fewer calories.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Drink sugar-free beverages or water.
  • Eat slowly. Take 20 minutes to eat your meal. It takes that long for your body to realize the stomach is full.
  • Fill up on fiber. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They fill you up but not out.
  • Limit extras. Gravy, sauces, salad dressings and margarines can add up quickly. Use them sparingly-a little will give you a lot of flavor. Many restaurants add butter to steaks or vegetables, so make sure to request no extras be added to food when eating out.

Remember all foods fit into a healthy eating plan. You’re more likely to stick to your plan if you don't deprive yourself. Everything fits in moderation.

Myth: You can’t eat healthy in restaurants.

Answer: Busted!

Sometimes it is challenging, but it can be done. Here are some restaurant survival tips:

  • Go for variety. Choose restaurants that have a variety of menu choices, including healthy ones.
  • Get two meals for the price of one. It’s easy to overeat if it’s in front of you. Get a “to go” box before you start eating and put half the meal in the box. You avoid temptation and get a meal for another time.
  • Share a meal, appetizer or dessert. Ask for an extra plate or have the server spilt it before it is served.
  • Ask for the lunch portion. It’s usually smaller than a dinner portion.
  • Order off the appetizer menu instead of an entrée for your meal. It’s enough food and if you splurge on a higher calorie item, you won’t be tempted to overeat.
  • Beware buffets. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets and supersize specials. The temptation to overeat is just too great!
  • Understand the menu.
    o Less fat: Baked, grilled, broiled, steamed, poached, roasted, stir-fried, lightly sautéed.
    o More fat: Creamed, buttered, breaded, fried, sautéed, au gratin.
  • Have it on the side. Order gravies, sauces and dressings on the side. You can control how much is used and a little adds big taste.
  • Have it your way. Don’t be afraid to make special requests. Ask for a baked potato instead of fries.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Stick to unsweetened drinks or water.
With a few small changes, you can eat healthy when you eat out.

Friday, January 22, 2010

MYTH: I can’t lose weight-I’m a stress eater.

Answer: Busted!

We eat for many reasons other than hunger. We eat when we’re stressed, bored, depressed, angry, or tired. We eat for comfort. We eat while doing other activities, on the go, or just because food is there. We eat in response to different triggers at different times.

Can you identify your triggers? Doing so can help you manage your weight. You will also feel more in touch with your body.

Keep a journal of not only what you eat, but when, where and what else you’re doing while you’re eating. Jot down how you feel at the time. Rate your level of hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being “starving” and 10 being “stuffed”). Review the journal - you’ll start to see patterns that you may want to change.

Bringing the subconscious to a conscious level is the first step in becoming more mindful of your eating. Ask yourself “how do I feel?” and “what is it I really need?” For example, if you’re tired, you may need a nap rather than food.

Tune into feelings and hunger and make a conscious decision to eat or not to eat in response to emotional issues. Contact a qualified professional if you need additional help.

Developing this connection will take determination, patience and commitment but will be well worth it!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Myth: I can’t exercise when it’s cold outside.

Answer: Busted!

It looks like it is going to be a long, cold, snowy winter. It’s easy to want to skip that physical activity and just curl up by the fire. But staying active is important to your health, even if the weather doesn't lend itself to being physically active.

You may have to adjust your physical activity because of the weather. Here are some suggestions to help you fit physical activity into your lifestyle, regardless of the weather outside:
  • Change a current physical activity. If you walk outside, try walking at the mall or on a treadmill.
  • Try something new. Dance classes, swimming, and water aerobics are all good indoor physical activities. Check out some exercise videos from your local library to use at home.
  • Invest in home fitness equipment. From jump ropes and fitness DVDs to treadmills and stationary bikes, having equipment at home makes it easier to fit in exercise. You can often find good bargains on gently used exercise equipment but do your research first. Make sure it is the right piece of equipment for you.
  • Add some strength-training activity. You don’t have to go to the gym to do this. Hand weights or resistance bands are easy tools to use at home. You can even use cans of soup or vegetables for hand weights.
  • Do short bouts of activity during the day. Walk up and down a few flights of stairs at the office or get co-workers together over lunch for a physical activity break.
  • Dress for the weather. If you go outside, dress for it. Staying active in cold weather is enjoyable if you are properly dressed.
  • Put safety first. Choose an indoor activity if there are dangerous wind chills or icy conditions.

With a plan, you can make it through the winter months and stay physically fit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I can never keep my New Year's resolutions.

Answer: Busted!

You’ve made your New Year’s resolutions. But how do you keep the momentum going?
  • Do a goal check-in. Make sure you have set realistic goals with measurable results.
  • Have a plan. Map out how you will make your goals a reality.
  • Avoid an all or nothing mentality. Focus on the positive changes you are making, not what you aren’t doing. View setbacks as lessons for growth.
  • Build in accountability. Use tools like
MyPyramid Tracker to monitor your food intake and physical activity.
  • Get and enlist a support system. Determine who will be helpful in your efforts and who will not. Spend time with those that will support your efforts, not bring you down.
  • Beware of emotional or other types of eating. We eat for many reasons other than hunger. Start to tune in to the type of eater you are.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Too many times we are our own worst enemy. Turn negative self-talk around and think positive thoughts. Talk to yourself as you would to your best friend.
  • Ensure your success by making your New Year’s resolution a lifestyle resolution. Take it one day at a time. You can keep your healthy resolutions throughout the year and make those lifestyle changes a permanent reality!

    All I need is a good diet to lose weight.

    Answer: Busted!

    Often our New Year’s resolutions include going on a diet to lose weight. Many times we think of diets as something we “go on.” If we “go on” a diet, then at some point we will “go off” the diet. After a few weeks this resolution can leave us feeling frustrated, guilty, or like a failure. Instead of resolving to “go on” a diet, a better approach is to focus on making lifestyle changes that include changes in our eating and physical activity habits.
    • Forget the fad diets and exercise plans. Is what you’re asking yourself to do something you can live with and do the rest of your life? If not, re-evaluate.
    • Be realistic. Make sure your goals and eating or activity plans work for you and your lifestyle. Start slowly and gradually increase your goals.
    • Make a commitment. If you are not truly committed to your goal, it won’t happen.
    • Write it down. Writing things down builds in self-accountability. Keep a food journal. Include not only what you ate, but how much, when, and where you ate. This can make you aware of your eating habits and can help you find trigger foods or situations. It may also help you cut down on mindless eating. Use your journal to keep track of physical activity as well.
    • Plan ahead. Have a plan in place for those times you anticipate more challenges with healthy eating and physical activity. They will happen-be prepared!
    • Forgive yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. If you feel like you’ve failed, you’re likely to give up. If you view the changes as a lifestyle, then an off-day here or there will not make or break you. You only fail if you quit.
    • Build in a non-food reward system. It might be as simple as getting that new book you’ve been wanting. Reward yourself for those positive lifestyle changes that you’re making. Rewards reinforce positive behaviors and can be incentives for continued changes. Success breeds success.

    These strategies will help you make those permanent lifestyle changes and keep your New Year’s resolutions!

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Myth: I can’t change my habits-it’s just too hard.

    Answer: Busted!

    Changing habits may not always be easy, but it can be done. Experts tell us it takes at least 21 days to change a habit. But we think we can change almost overnight. We have to start with small steps, not giant leaps. Small changes are easier than big changes, and can add up over time. Start small, master a behavior and establish the habit, then gradually add more.

    Instead of trying to change too many things at once, think small. Here are some ideas-pick one change at a time.

    For healthier eating: Try a new fruit, vegetable, or whole-grain food each week. Have a glass of low-fat milk with a meal. Pack snacks such as fruit, cut-up vegetables, or low-fat popcorn to carry with you. Substitute water in place of one soft drink per day. Start eating breakfast if you don’t already.

    For physical activity: Add in a five minute walk to your lunch or break. Practice planned inefficiency-park farther away from the door or make extra trips to the copy machine. Walk up one flight of stairs and down two instead of using the elevator. Stand or walk while you are on the phone. Do some stretches while sitting at your desk.

    Try these and other small steps and you will be on your way to new habits.

    MYTH: I always break my New Year’s resolutions, so I shouldn’t even bother setting them.

    Answer: Busted!

    It’s the time of year again for New Year’s resolutions, and many of us set goals for eating healthy and being more physically active. Although it’s important to set healthy goals, it’s also important to set reasonable ones. Sometimes we set unrealistic goals that we can’t achieve, and then we feel like we’ve failed.

    Think of goal setting as a ladder — if you start at the top, there is only one way to go — down. If you start at the bottom, you can work your way up, step by step. The best way to do this is by focusing on realistic goals with measurable results.

    One way to make realistic goals is to make them more specific. Instead of saying “I will exercise more,” make your goal “I will walk 10 minutes, three times a week.” The details will help make your goal measurable: “I will walk 10 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m.” Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t always achieve your goals — try to be flexible, instead. For example, if you plan to walk on Wednesday and you can’t, reschedule it for Thursday. You will still be making progress.

    If your goals aren’t working for you, revisit them to make sure they are reasonable. If you are successful, you are more likely to focus on the positive progress you are making. Changing habits takes time — the more you make the changes a habit, the more likely you will be to continue the changes. Finally, try not to set too many goals at one time — start with one or two behaviors you want to change. Once you master those, then focus on new goals.

    With these tips and a little planning, you can keep your New Year’s resolutions!