3 Weight Loss Truths

If you haven’t been bombarded with weight loss ads over the past week, you’re probably on a remote island soaking up the sun with the waves gently teasing your feet (bring me next time). There’s something about the start of a New Year that makes people freak out, lose their senses and develop completely unrealistic eating plans they will never follow for more than a few days. Before you get sucked into a crazy diet or juice cleanse, you should know the top three truths about weight loss.

1) No One Eats “Clean” all of the Time

Instagram and Facebook are full of photos of broccoli, brown rice and chicken meals neatly placed in Tupperware and followed by #mealprep #eatclean. The only thing more boring than looking at these meals is eating them day after day. No one eats like this all of the time. No one.
I’ve worked with a number of elite athletes who cut weight before a fight, match or event. They diet down, compete then loosen up their diet a bit before they need to diet down again. They aren’t eating bodybuilding-type meals every day year-round.

2) There is No One Perfect Diet

Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, juice cleanses, Paleo, Whole30. There is no “perfect” because what’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me. Figure out what changes you can realistically stick with, combine these with the general principles of healthy eating and start there. Forget what everyone else is doing, how your neighbor dropped 50 lbs. or what the actress on the cover of a magazine did. If you can’t stick with a plan, it won’t work.

Progress, not perfection, is the goal.

Celebrate each “win,” those small changes you’ve made that will add up to a big difference. You won’t necessarily notice a weight loss right away by making a few simple switches in your diet. However, I would rather people focus on the immediate difference – more energy, feeling better, more sleep, than the number on the scale. Feeling better each day will drive you to continue when the scale isn’t moving much.

3) You Must Exercise for Weight Loss

Can you lose weight without exercising? Yes absolutely. However, if you do not exercise you will lose more of your weight as muscle then fat. In addition to burning fewer calories each day when you lose muscle, you will notice a decline in strength and as you get older and everyday activities will become harder to do – lifting groceries, gardening, washing your car.

If you are not an exerciser and typically fall off when you start a new workout program, figure out what you like to do and do it. Forget all of the back-and-forth “noise” about high intensity interval training, the amount of rest in between sets and if you should train until muscle failure (until you cannot possibly lift the weight again). Instead, determine what brings you joy. What do you love to do? Dancing, yoga, hiking? What did you love doing as a kid? Hula hooping, double Dutch jump rope?

Do what makes you happy. Get moving and stay moving.

In addition to following these weight-loss truths, spend time feeling good about your body every single day. I meet so many people that are hyper focused on losing 5 pounds or 50 lbs. As they rattle off the reasons why they want to lose body fat and how this will drastically alter their life and make them happy, my mind often drifts off. I wonder what percentage of their thoughts are consumed by losing weight and dieting and if they are hyper-focused on controlling this aspect of their life because something else isn’t right. A marriage, their job, a friendship, their child’s behavior. If I ask the right questions something else they are ignoring often comes up.

Maintaining weight within a good range is very important for overall health. Obsessing about weight and dieting isn’t. I’ve coached enough people to know that one day you’ll look back years from now and wonder why you wasted so much time hating your body.

You’ll look back and say, “damn, I looked good! I wish I felt better about myself.”

“I wish I wore shorts in the summer.”

“Why didn’t I go to the beach in a bathing suit?”

“I wish I went to that party.”

I promise you, no one is criticizing your body. Every one around you is too busy focused on themselves. So go out and wear shorts, put on a bathing suit, try on that dress.

If you don’t love your body now, you won’t feel your best every day. You won’t enjoy life to the fullest. Work in this first (or in conjunction with healthy eating / a healthy approach to weight loss).

Because it’s a waste of time to spend your days bashing the body that does so much for you.

An Unexpected New Year’s Resolution

By Sara Shipley, RD-to be, Nutrition Student at the University of Central Oklahoma

Yes, it’s that time again and the thought has probably crossed your mind as 2011 comes to a close. The annual New Year’s resolution. And, according to many popular media sources, losing weight tops many people’s resolution list. Yet our nation is in a major health crisis. Something isn’t adding up and though many people realize they should take charge of their health, they are not taking the right approach to fix the problem. If the majority of people continue to ditch their goals by February, we will continue to see the rate of obesity, diabetes and heart disease rise.

If losing weight is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, or even if it isn’t, I am going to tell you about one big dietary change that will yield big results: boosting your fiber intake.

Fiber is the indigestible part of a carbohydrate. We need fiber in our diet because our bodies do not absorb it. Rather, it acts as a vehicle to remove waste products from f our system.  Here are three reasons to eat more fiber:

Feel full longer: Fiber provides “bulk” to your diet which helps control hunger, as it takes time to move through your digestive tract leaving you full throughout the day. Eating a high fiber breakfast every morning will start your day off right.  Try oatmeal with berries and low-fat milk or whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana.

Digestion: Fiber will regulate your bowel movements and this helps keep everything moving out of your system, including some residual toxins.

Lowers LDL cholesterol levels and risk for heart disease: Increasing fiber may contribute to lowering LDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and inflammation in the body. Controlling these health markers will help protect your heart.

Try this easy, high fiber hors d’oeuvre for your New Years Eve party. I have already made it for several holiday parties and it was devoured.

Bacon Wrapped Dates: Dates are dried fruit with a sweet flavor and chewy texture that will balance the salty bite of bacon. (Try turkey bacon if you want to cutback the fat, but it may not crisp as well.)

Yield: 30 pieces

  •  15 slices thick bacon
  • 30 pitted dates (Dole brand was perfect bite-size and a bag usually has approx. 30)
  • toothpicks

Pre-heat the oven to 425 F. Slice each bacon piece in half, short ways. Roll a piece of bacon around each date and pierce with a wooden toothpick. Place wrapped dates on a sprayed baking sheet (set ½ inch apart). Cook for 13-16 minutes, turning once to ensure the bacon crisps on all sides.

Place on a rack to slightly cool and serve warm.

Peas are also a high fiber food and Black Eye Pea dips and dishes are a big New Years Tradition here in Oklahoma. Get your fill of fiber with peas as you ring in the New Year!







 [SS1]What other word can you think of? I feel like ‘diet’ has already been over-used.

 [SS2]Marie- isn’t that right? Please delete if you think it sounds weird/incorrect.

Beating the Battle of the Holiday Bulge: You Can Do It!

By: Sara Shipley, RD-to-be and student at University of Central Oklahoma

The colder weather is finally here and that signifies the upcoming holiday season. For some people, Halloween was the kickoff and for the next two months- its one themed event after the next. If you’re like me, I have several friend’s weddings sprinkled between major holidays, so this time of year is going to be packed. Packed full of opportunities to overindulge and join the countless Americans in the average holiday weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle and according to research, on average, Americans gain 1-3 pounds during the winter holidays, every year. As activity levels plummet during the colder months, most people see an increase in weight and tightness in their clothes. And then they beat themselves up in January, making empty resolutions and paying for gym memberships that go to waste by March. I’m not being cynical- I want to help you avoid that drama before it starts! Missing out on a party with all the festive temptations doesn’t have to be your strategy to maintain your healthy regimen. You should enjoy every invite, but with the mindset of moderation. It’s about the choices you make and how those choices will make you feel that next day.

Tips for staving off holiday weight gain:

Stay active: Most people get busy and distracted with end-of-year deadlines and obligations that seem more important than their workout. Or they get lazy and want to stay in, because- hey, its cold out there and I don’t want to battle the weather for my morning run! The most important step is lacing up your shoes and getting moving. Even for 30 measly minutes, any activity is worth it. Try any or all of these ideas to keep your activity level high:

  • Signup for a race in your area.  Look for a Turkey Trot around Thanksgiving or other holiday themed races around the community. You don’t have to run, so sign up with friends or family and walk. They are usually focused on raising money for children or soldiers, so you’ll be doing yourself and someone else a favor.
  • Aim for a workout 4 days a week/at least 30 minutes and stick to it. Try an indoor, DVD series if you can’t make it outdoors. P90X is widely popular, but there are also countless options you can stream from YouTube. TaraStiles Yoga is a great site for yoga practice for any level.
  • Wear a pedometer. It may seem like a hassle but it can actually turn into a fun, little game. Once you start wearing it, you might find yourself trying to rack up the steps and beat your previous day’s count.
  • Take the stairs- at first it seems annoying to attempt 10 flights, but it works the glutes and every extra step adds up.
  • Park at the back of the lot, everywhere you go (work, grocery store, the mall, the movies…). Your car is less likely to be dinged and as mentioned before, every extra step adds up.
  • Get moving on your lunch break. A 10 minute walk will clear your head and keep you from being sedentary all day. Walk to your car and back if that’s the only opportunity you have.

Choose wisely: Holiday parties are notorious for food offerings that don’t normally sit at the table. Heavy appetizers of cheese laden fried bites are likely to be at the next party and you can expect to see all the comfort foods- scalloped potatoes, stuffing, beef chili and the list goes on. If you are invited to a friend’s thankgiving feast, you should join as the plates are passed, as you do not have to skip these dishes. But you should be mindful not to over serve yourself like it’s your last meal. Survey what is offered and make a few indulgences. Balance your plate with vegetables (not creamy, fried or buttered up). Eat lighter meals during throughout the rest of the day, but don’t entirely skip. If you head to the party famished, be aware that you’re likely to over indulge and then justify it to yourself. (More tips to come regarding smart swaps for holiday dishes!)

Drink up? : Delicious party food is customarily paired with festive drinks. And some of these drinks can clock in as heavy and alcoholic, which can negate your healthy efforts. (Hello, eggnog). After just two drinks, you could be pushing your limits on more than 500 calories without even having a bite! Not only will the alcohol leave you dehydrated, your judgment will be impaired and you may think that second round of cheesecake is a better idea than it truly is.  Skip the mixed holiday drinks and opt for a glass of heart healthy red wine or a bottle of light beer, which helps you control portions. If you feel deprived without your annual eggnog, drink up- but balance it with less dessert.

The breakdown:

  • Glass of red wine= ~125 calories
  • Light beer= ~100 calories
  • Vodka Soda with splash of light cranberry=~ 150 calories
  • Eggnog (one cup) = ~330 calories
  • Chocolate Martini= ~250 calories
  • White Russian with light cream=~800 calories (not a typo)

The numbers are quiet staggering. In fact, they’re probably skewed because as we all know, the drink is only as good as the bartender. If the bartender has a heavy hand, you may be drinking more juice than you realize!

A good reason we all enjoy the holidays is spending time with family and friends. These gatherings usually include food and drinks, but that isn’t the primary focus. Preparing your self to make healthy choices will take the stress out of holiday weight management. You don’t have to feel deprived while mindfully celebrating!

Does Cardio on an Empty Stomach = Greater Calories Burned?

In college I’d wake up at the crack of dawn to meet my teammates for a run. Now, I can’t fathom doing that without any food (and caffeine) to get me going in the morning. And despite evidence to the contrary, many people still insist that exercise first thing in the morning in a fasted state will help them “burn more fat.”

There are a few reasons people vouch for this theorys. First, your blood sugar is low which means your insulin levels are low (insulin is a storage hormone and facilitates fat storage if you don’t need those calories for energy). Plus, some people believe that exercising first thing speeds up your metabolism for the rest of the day.

Despite these two seemingly logical theories behind exercising on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, my incredibly smart colleague Brad Schoenfeld, MS, CSCS, did an excellent job debunking this myth. In Brad’s article in the NSCA Strength & Conditioning Journal, he goes into depth discussing why this theory is incorrect. Here are the highlights:

  • Fat burning needs to be considered over the course of a day, actually days, not only during one exercise session. Say you burn carbs during your workout, then your body will likely burn fat post exercise or later in the day.
  • HIIT, high intensity interval training, has proven to be one of the best ways to shed fat. Yet, during this high intensity exercise, you are actually burning less fat which indicates that again, the whole day, or course of days matters the most.
  • Well designed clinical trials in endurance-trained athletes show that a pre-exercise meal does not impair fat oxidation during exercise.
  • If you exercise in a fasted state you probably won’t be able to train at the same intensity as you would if you had a pre-exercise meal. Greater intensity = more calories burned.

For all of the reasons outlined above, keep in mind that the best time of the day to exercise is the time that fits in your schedule and works for you. If you love to exercise first thing in the morning, go for it! Obviously it has it’s advantages since the rest of your day is free and you won’t skip out on an after-work workout in favor of a last minute happy hour. Plus, working out in the morning may get you “up” for the rest of your day, helping you feel like you’ve accomplished something and your body is both alert and ready to tackle anything that comes your way. However, don’t sweat it if you exercise in a non fasted state. After all, you should notice a huge difference in the quality of your workout.

Squash Food Cues & Lose Weight

Losing weight and keeping it off for good has a lot more to do with your head then your stomach. Your brain sends out satiety cues and it also stops you from grabbing a second piece of cake when you are already stuffed. Paying attention to what the unemotional, rational part of your brain is telling you will help you win the war on weight and kick diets to the curb for good. How can you start this process of mindful eating? First, become very aware of food cues that can cause you to eat & drink more than you physically need to consume. Some of these include:

  • Number of people at your table – as the # of people you dine with increases, so does your calorie intake. Now, I’m not suggesting you dine alone but, just be more aware of this in social settings so you don’t overeat. If you are a female, throw a hot man in the mix since women tend to eat less in the company of men. Or, better yet, throw several hot men in the mix. Your girl friends and your waistline will thank you for it!
  • Marriage. We tend to take on the habits of those around us and, typically, men eat more than women so when women get hitched, they take on the eating patterns of their spouse. Could it be that the chase is over too? I have no idea. But, women, take notice of your plate -it should not contain the same amount of food as your spouse’s plate.
  • Overweight, obese or diet-obsessed friends. If you dine with people who are overweight, you tend to eat more. Not to mention, many of these people want you to eat more so they feel better about what they are consuming. Likewise, I’ve noticed a strange phenomena among women obsessed with their weight or certain aspects of their body – they don’t feel okay eating cake, French fries or other foods they deem “bad” unless you eat it with them. If you have overweight or obese friends, by all means, dine with them. Just be aware of your behavior and find some friends who also encourage you to hit the gym, go running etc.

  • The TV + your comfy couch. Surely you’ve heard this a million times – more TV often = more weight. How do you combat that yet still view your favorite programs? Put a bike, treadmill or elliptical machine in front of the TV. And add some yoga to your workout mix – yoga = greater mindfulness overall.
  • Big plates, bowls, cups etc. – the bigger the dish you are eating out of, the more you’ll pack in there and subsequently, eat.
  • Refills – get individual servings of beer, soda, juice, etc. (vs. pitchers) and don’t let the waitstaff refill that bowl of chips). When we can’t see what we’ve eaten, and our plate, bowl or cup is constantly refilled, we eat more.

It pays to be more aware of what you are doing so you can change your behavior. Because, there are tons of visual cues (like the smell of a Cinnabon when I am dashing through the airport) around us that encourage us to eat. If you can tame some of these cues, you’ll be better off in the long run.  Last, but not least, don’t underestimate the effect of diet counseling (i.e. seeing a dietitian regularly) for weight loss.