HEALTHY BYTE: Day 3020

That number signifies the number of consecutive days I have logged into MyFitnessPal. I have not missed logging my meals for a little over 8 years. MyFitnessPal was the game-changer which forever impacted the way I eat, what I eat, and how much I eat. To physically see the number of calories I consumed in ratio to my physical activities (or lack there of), it educated me and held me accountable for my choices.

It’s like balancing a check book but instead of money, the currency is calories. So for example, if I had 340 calories to spend, do I want to drink it away via a Starbucks Tall (12 fl oz) White Chocolate Mocha at 340 calories or would I rather eat a 4oz turkey sandwich on Brioche bread for about 270 calories? When put into those terms, I would always opt to eat my calories over drinking my calories. And its small incremental lifestyle changes like this which allowed me to lose close to 62 lbs and keep it off for almost 8 years – refusing to be a participant to the weight loss statistic of weight regain.

I often still struggle will the little things because the inner fat girl is never far behind. I distinctively remember being particularly excited in purchasing a brilliant orange red sweater from the Loft after stalking it to go on sale for months. When it finally arrived, I pulled it out of the packaging and instantly a wave of cold sweat poured over me, a knot developed in my stomach, and I felt fat. I held up the XS sweater and it looked so ridiculously small that I was convinced that I was too fat to fit in it – not that the sweater was too small but that I was too fat. I tossed it down on the bed and was disgusted with myself for having that extra slice pizza a week ago. It took a few days before I would gather enough nerve to try it on and it did fit me perfectly but instead of taking pride that fitting into an XS was the result of my hard work, I discounted it and chalked it up to luck. And to some, this all may sound utterly ridiculous because I didn’t have 100+ or 200+ lbs to lose, but losing almost 40% of my original body weight and keeping it off should be a celebration in it of itself.

Being in weight loss maintenance, I have had to continuously make slight adjustments to my nutrition with little effort. However, finding a regular physical activity to keep me active & motivated has been challenging because I am naturally lazy and a homebody. From hours of research, I know that losing muscle is a natural part of aging and since muscle burns more fat it means that it makes no difference what nutrition choices I make, unless I consciously counter the muscle loss, as I get older, I will continue to put on weight even if my food choices doesn’t change at all. Strength training has been an Achilles heel, my personal kryptonite. Intellectually, I understand the importance of strength training, that muscle weighs more than fat, and that non-scale victories should be my weight loss maintenance goal. But emotionally, its really difficult to let that number on the scale go – to let that number on the scale not trigger fear of getting fat. Every time I regularly strength trained (3 times a week) I gained weight. I would see a number on the scale that frightened me and I would quit. This vicious cycle continued until I found OrangeTheory Fitness . It is HIIT training which incorporates two forms of cardio and regular strength training. It is highly effective. It provides a wide range of goals for me to work towards. It has helped me develop nice muscle definition on my shoulders and my arms. But it is at the expense of my weight – or at least the weight I would prefer to be rather than what I currently am. I have to learn to redefine what thin should look like for me and it is an ongoing struggle but I see role models like Ernestine Shepherd that keeps me pushing forward through the fear.

Healthy Byte: Make Nice with Food

healthy foods and a tape measureTake a mindful approach to healthy eating | iStock.com

Maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult, and eating right is sometimes an uphill battle. So, it’s often tempting to take the easy way out, succumbing to microwaveable meals and fast food fare. But ending your war against food is possible, and in taking a more mindful approach what goes into your body, and how, you may discover a healthier way to shed pounds.


The Cheat Sheet: What are healthier alternatives to overeating?

Dr. Susan Albers: Mindful eating is key to ending overeating. It squashes emotional eating and helps you to eat just what you need — not more. Basically, being mindful means having more control over your actions, particularly around food.

CS: How can a person combat overeating if they’ve struggled with it their whole life?

SA: First, you have to rewire your mindset to stop dieting. This is often easier said than done because it’s so ingrained in our culture. A dieting mindset gets you into either or situations — either I’m on a diet or I’m off. Mindful eating isn’t so black and white, which helps people sidestep the sense of failure or giving up. It’s also losing the guilt and starving.

Dr. Susan Albers holding an apple

CS: If someone is a stress eater, how can they overcome the temptation to eat, and instead use other ways to deal with stress?

SA: Think about the 2 Rs — reboot and relax. Basically, when we are stressed, we are looking for a way to unwind. Studies show that food only comforts us for about three minute, and then the positive feelings fade. Relaxation techniques help you to relax and unwind. This includes things that I’ve included in my book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, like self-massage, yoga techniques, aromatherapy, etc.

Rebooting your mindset can be a little more challenging. The book includes ways of turning around negative thinking, which keeps you stuck. Being able to remain positive, see the silver lining, and rebound makes food less tempting. We eat to escape feelings. Mindfulness helps you cope with them as they are until they pass — and they will pass.

CS: How can people be more mindful about the food they’re putting into their bodies?

SA: If you don’t know where to start, start with what I call the 5 Ss of Mindful Eating. Sit down, slowly chew, savor each bite, simplify your environment by putting treats out of sight, and smile between bites so you have a moment to check in to ask yourself if you are truly satisfied. These all change how vs. what you eat. So many plans focus on the what to eat. We need to learn the how.

inspiring-diet.jpg

CS: How realistic is it to begin a healthier diet?

SA: You don’t have to change anything. Just slip more mindfulness into what you are already doing. This is often a simple mind shift that takes no more than a second. Make every choice a conscious choice instead of mindlessly eating out of habit or what I call the JBITS syndrome — just because it is there. Connect to all the actions around eating from picking up your fork to feeling your back against the chair to savoring the texture of each bite.

CS: How can a person’s daily routine be affected, positively or negatively, by their eating habits?

SA: Some habits and routines are positive. You just do it without any emotion or thought. For example, when you brush your teeth there is no emotional struggle or question. You just do it. Routine eating habits can take out some of the emotion, difficulty, and taxing nature of making a decision. In other words, you just eat the banana like you do every afternoon without any emotional struggle. Habit is negative when you do it without thought or connection to the experience. Sitting on the couch and mindlessly eating chips each night takes out the enjoyment of the experience and can get you in a deep rut.


There you go, just one more reason to drop the diet mindset and start thinking about mindful eating. So, yes, you can totally still have those potato chips. Just make sure you enjoy every bite knowing you can have them again instead of feeling like you need to plow through the entire bag. You’ll be healthier, and happier, for it.

 

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: ‘Starvation Mode’ the Myth

close-up on a man's stomach as he rubs itCould this man be experiencing starvation mode? | iStock.com

If you eat healthy, count every calorie, keep track of your nutrients, and work out day in and day out, then you’re probably expecting your body to get lean and strong in no time. So, if you find yourself hitting a weight-loss plateau without cheating on your diet or slacking on your exercise routine, you may assume you’ve hit starvation mode. This phenomenon, according to Livestrong, affects anyone who eats below their recommended daily caloric intake and makes weight loss nearly impossible. But is there any truth to this claim? It’s time to dispel myth from reality.

This is what starvation mode in dieting is said to be — a complete halt in weight loss when you’ve gone too far with your extreme dieting. Here’s the truth: While your body will have a response to cutting calories, it won’t be strong enough to completely prevent you from losing weight.

healthy foods and a tape measure

Healthy fresh produce for weight loss | iStock.com

In truth, The Washington Post explains metabolism will slow when you’re cutting calories. This is your body’s natural response to a significant change in your diet and your routine, but this doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, this slowing of your metabolic rate doesn’t even happen within the first six to eight months of extreme dieting, which is when most people find that they hit their first plateau and look toward starvation mode as a reason. It takes years and years of severe calorie restriction for your metabolism to completely offset a reduction in calories.

The idea that you won’t lose weight when your caloric intake is too restricted is completely dispelled when looking at The Minnesota Starvation Experiment outlined by the American Psychological Association. In World War II, men were worked to physical extremes and were given less than 1,600 calories to eat a day, resulting in extreme hunger, gaunt bodies, and malnutrition. They were rehabilitated back to full health by being fed a proper number calories, but nowhere in this study did they find the men stopped losing weight because they were eating too little. In fact, all of the participants lost about 25% of their body weight.

If you’re at the point in your diet where you’re unable to lose weight further, A Workout Routine suggests this may be because your body simply isn’t burning as many calories as it did when you weighed more. When your body weight decreases, you burn fewer calories in general, meaning the diet that worked for you when you were 50 pounds heavier may not be working so well for you anymore.