Friday, February 26, 2010

Being a Healthy Example for Your Child

I had the great experience of speaking at a local middle school, addressing 6th, 7th and 8th graders in their Health Classes. Based on their curriculum, I addressed topics such as fad diets, body image and living a healthy lifestyle.

These kids were great! So honest and so full of questions. It was very gratifying to talk with them and hear what was on their heart. There is so much mis-information around them - things that they see [on tv, magazines, internet], things that they hear [on radio, tv], but most of all, what they see and hear at home.

It is SO important to be a healthy example for your child! 

These kids are in middle school. They are not young children anymore, but they are not teenagers yet either. The 6th graders are still innocent and somewhat childish, the 7th graders are cool and comfortable and crazy [I can say this because I have a 7th grader], the 8th graders are maturing, body-wise and mood-wise. They are more somber and serious, still crazy, but serious about issues. They had a lot of questions for me. And so I listened...

I saw them nod when I talked about the crazy diets out there, I heard them when I said things they agreed with, like having parents who are overweight and on a diet. Moms who never lose the baby weight. Moms who just have a poor metabolism. Moms who have a candy/chocolate stash somewhere in the house. This is nothing new to them. These kids KNOW what is going on. They LISTEN to everything that is being said in the house. When Mom [or Dad, don't want to leave the guys out] is miserable about her weight or appearance, they hear all of that. They hear the talk of crazy one-time diets, the fat-burning pills, the workouts - and they are confused. They are confused just like Mom is because it's not working. And all the attention is focused on the fact that it's not working.

I've been there. I tried everything I could for 8 years to lose weight, nothing worked!

I just sat down with these kids and gave them information, educated them about words that they hear, shared with them experiences that I have been through and seen in my clients' lives. You could hear a pin drop. These kids are VERY interested in being healthy. These kids are very interested in having healthy families. They want to be healthy. And many times, their hands are tied because of the choices of their parents.

Fast food, sugar-overload, processed foods are the most common obstacles to them. Not having healthy foods available, fresh fruits and veggies.

I remember when my kids were very young, I took every precaution to make sure that every day, they got the right amount of fruit, the right amount of veggies, healthy breads, healthy foods. My daughter did not have a french fry until she was one-year old and that was only because Mema gave her some. I wanted to keep her pure. I wanted her to be healthy. Meanwhile, I grazed on my chocolate stash daily and tried pills and shakes to lose the weight I had gained from carrying her. And this was a pattern I repeated with each pregnancy and child.

We spend so much time in the early years preparing and watching over our children, but we don't realize that they are spending their middle years preparing and watching over us. They are seeing the choices we make. They know what's going on.

My kids knew me when I was overweight and they know me now as a fit person for the last 9 years. They've seen the bad and the good. I think they like the good better, I know they do, but they've also made the choice themselves to be a healthy person. They see the bad that is out there, but they make choices because they know what is good too. Many parents want to shield their kids from anything bad - bad teacher, change the room; bad kid in a class, get rid of them; bad kid in church, change churches. They think if they never let their kids see anything bad or experience anything bad, they will just turn out good. When the kids are seeing the bad anyway. But they don't get the opportunity to take control themselves and work through situations. Same thing with health - they see the bad, but they don't get the opportunity to take control of their eating because the parents buy the food. They don't get the opportunity to work through it because they just eat what they are fed.

Parents, please be a healthy example for your child. Please TALK to them about food and nutrition and exercising and most of all, balance and moderation. Healthy living is NOT about crazy fad diets or pills or strenuous workouts. It's about balance and moderation of nutrition and exercise. Educate yourself on healthy living so you can share it with your children.

I've seen these wonderful kids and what is in their heart, now show them what is in yours, what is truly in your heart. I am here to help you...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Carbs Are NOT The Enemy!

There are so many misconceptions about carbs - carbohydrates - that it has become very common to hear the following phrases:

"I know I need to cut back on my carbs"
"A low-carb diet will help me lose weight"
"I eat too many carbs and that is why I am overweight"
"Carbs are bad, but I just can't stay away from them"

Carbs have gotten a really bad rap, esp. in the last 10 years. Think about it -- the low-carb diet craze, the no-carb diet craze, the "carbs are bad" mentality -- all over the last 10-20 years while at the same time obesity is SKYROCKETING during this time. Think there might be a little connection?

Carbs are NOT the enemy! 

Carbs are LIFE. 
Carbs are ENERGY. 
Your body NEEDS Carbs. 

When a client comes to me wanting to change her life and get healthy, one of the first things I do is a nutrition analysis, based on what she is currently consuming each day. 80% of new clients believe that they have a problem with Carbs before we start working together. And what do I find out after the nutrition analysis? 80% of new clients are fine, carb percentage-wise. They just might be eating the wrong kinds of carbs. So what are the right kinds of carbs? And should you eat them?

Carbs are technically any of a group of organic compounds that includes sugars, starches, celluloses, and gums and serves as a major energy source in your diet. Carbs are generally thought of in food categories as bread, pastas, potatoes and rice, bread being the most popular. It frustrates me to no end when I hear someone say that they cannot or should not eat a sandwich because it is "all carbs". It's all carbs if you make it all carbs. You just need to learn how to eat the right kinds of carbs.

Healthy vs. unhealthy carbs:

Oatmeal vs. boxed cereals
Sweet potatoes vs. potatoes
Whole wheat breads vs. white breads
Brown rice vs. white rice
Fruits and veggies vs. fried foods [any]

Does this mean that you have to go home and change all your unhealthy carbs to healthy ones overnight? No, make a gradual change. It's ironic that moms of young children are so careful to make sure that their baby gets the proper BALANCE of foods, gotta get those fruits in, gotta get those veggies in, proper balance of milk and lean meats, but then when it comes to themselves, they barely eat a fruit or vegetable and snack on candy and chocolate that they would never think of feeding their baby. As the children get older, they relax on the rules a little bit, but mom's eating habits stay the same. She just keeps gaining weight. Pretty soon, it's a habit, she's overweight and that's when it gets frustrating.

Carbs are not bad for you, but like anything else in a good NUTRITION plan [not a die-it], moderation is KEY!

If you cannot give up boxed cereals, have it in moderation coupled with a healthy fruit. Try brown rice instead of white rice. Try a sweet potato instead of a regular potato. I think the worst things on the list above is white breads and fried foods. Those need to be limited as much as possible. And that's where our obsession with sandwiches and chips or fries comes in, such a good combination. You can still eat a sandwich. It just depends on how you make it.

Use whole grain breads. Fill it with a good protein source. Fill it with good veggies. Limit fatty sauces or don't use them. My favorite lunch sandwich is a California Avocado from Atlanta Bread Company. No white bread, put it on whole grain. No dill sauce [glorified mayonnaise]. Takes me 20 seconds to tell them to make those substitutions. But those are my choices. You go to any restaurant and you can make the same choices. You cook at home and you can make those same choices.

Stop labeling the food as "BAD" or talking about them like they are the enemy. The food is energy to help you through your day. But YOU have to be in charge, YOU choose your health at every meal. So start making good choices. So if you feel like having a sandwich, have one - just make sure it's a healthy one!

Monday, February 15, 2010

When Everything Doesn't Go As Planned

One of the most frustrating things for a planner is when things don't go as planned. You miss a workout, you overeat at a meal, you make a mistake, you fail. You feel bad. You tried so hard to have everything perfect, and it just isn't working out that way. The weight is not coming off, the schedule is not easing, it's so hard.

So what do you do when everything doesn't go as planned?

Well, there are a few options...

• Quit. Be miserable and fail. Ick, next option please...
• Go on and try again. Easier said then done, and you've probably already done this one, over and over again.
• Revise your plan, get your mind and body focused, and work harder.

It's funny how a person has a vision of how their body should look or what they want to look like. And it's so disappointing when they don't turn out that way. You look in the mirror and cannot believe that the body looking back is the way you feel. 

So, do you just walk away from your body? 

It's so frustrating, the long process of losing weight. You can work so hard to lose 1-2 lbs. in a week, while all it takes is one weekend to gain 5-6 lbs. Why is that? Why is your body letting you down? Why is it not changing?

When I first meet with a client, I mentally note the "red flags" that come up as we get to know each other. It could be something about their health history, the standard "I eat pretty good", one of their support systems. I note the red flags and more often than not, those red flags become something we have to deal with weeks into establishing a good exercise and nutrition program. Notice I didn't say diet and workout. Exercise and nutrition.

Most people don't understand how important planning is when you start a new exercise and nutrition program. It's not just about your workout or your food. It's about making time for yourself, making your life a priority so you can better take care of others. It's about taking care, good care, of the body you have. And then there's the time aspect. Take a sample 12 week program. 12 weeks of exercise and proper nutrition. Life-changing, right? Yes, most of the time. But part of the planning for a 12-week program is planning for plateaus and for how long 12 weeks actually is. Think about 12 weeks - 3 months.

A lot of people don't consider this when PLANNING their new routine. First week goes great, maybe lose a pound or two. Second week is okay, maybe lose a pound. Third week you are starting to get tired of it. By the fourth week, you're thinking "I've been busting my butt for 4 weeks now and THIS is all I get?". The majority don't even make it to the 5th or 6th week without some sort of quitting and failure. Then what happens?

• Quit. Be miserable and fail. Ick, next option please...
• Go on and try again. Easier said then done, and you've probably already done this one.

• Revise your plan, get your mind and body focused, and work harder.

In a standard 12-week program, you will see results in week 9. Week 9 friends!!! So what does that mean? You have to get through week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6, week 7, week 8. You have to be consistent, doing the exercise, eating good nutrition and you have to do it for 8 weeks to get to week 9. Weeks 9-12 are when you will really SEE and feel the optimal benefits.

Keep this in mind when you are planning a new program. Have a professional help you. Revise your plan, get your mind and body focused, and work harder. It's hard when things don't go as planned, but you CAN recover and you CAN succeed. I'm here for you when you need me...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cardio - How Much Is Enough?

Everyone knows they need to "do cardio", but how much is enough? And how do you know?

First of all, the term "cardio" is typically shortened from the phrase "cardiovascular" meaning involving the heart and blood vessels. But most people already know that. You've heard the terms "getting your heart rate up", "working out", "exercising". You've heard about your target heart rate, sweating, moderate vs. vigorous. So, what's stopping you?

"Cardio" has become a code word for EXERCISE. Any kind of exercise.

A fitness specialist was speaking to a group of people this morning at an event I attended and he asked the audience "What's the best kind of exercise to do?" Responses included walking, running, stairmaster, etc. And his answer was "The one that you will do". Ahh, now we're talking.

The one that you will do. 

It doesn't matter if it is inside, outside, on a machine or otherwise. It's the one that you will do. Just get it done.

I love working with women. There are many differences in working with an overweight woman who wants to lose weight and working with an overweight man. Ever watch the "Biggest Loser" and see those big, husky guys just bawling like a baby? Then they show a woman half his size who just grits through it. I love that. If I give instructions to a woman on cardio, they have many questions "How long should I do this?", "Where should my heart rate be during this", "What if...." and so on. If I give instructions to a man on cardio, they tend to say "Yeah, but I don't like to do ____" [whatever I have asked them to do]. Huh? I didn't ASK you if you LIKED to do this! Sorry guys, don't mean to offend...but it's hilarious to see that and I hear it all the time from guys. "I get bored on the treadmill", "I don't like walking/running when it's too cold, or too hot", etc.... Again, I didn't say that you were going to float on air popping bubbles in the perfect air as you do your cardio. Cardio is work. Exercise is work.

That's the point. 

Just get moving. The one that you will do.

Doesn't matter to me which one it is - machine or not - just get moving and sweat. When you're working with a fitness professional, they'll give you the guidelines that YOU need for YOUR particular body and goals.

When you have a problem with your car, you take it to a mechanic. When you have a problem with a leaking pipe, you call a plumber. When you are overweight or obese [or don't know which one you are but know it is one of them], you need to call a fitness professional. Esp. if you've been trying to do it on your own, for years maybe, and you're still overweight or obese. I know ladies, I've been there myself. It's not fun. See a professional. Get it done. A good fitness professional will help you FIND the one that you will do. A good fitness professional will guide you to making your goals and help find solutions that will work for you alone.

So, how much cardio should you do?

I challenge you to find out today. Find out what will work for you and find the one that you will do. I am here to help you friends. Girls, grit up and go for it. Guys, might want to take some kleenex to the workout today...

Friday, February 5, 2010

February News - "Does Chocolate = Love?"

Please read my February newsletter about dealing with chocolate during Valentine's Day and my Top 10 Healthy Valentine's Day present ideas... 

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 1, 2010

How To Get Motivated or Stay Motivated

Motivation is huge when you are trying to lose weight. You either have it or you don't. And then what happens when you lose it? I hate seeing when a person starts a new program, starts to see results, then loses their focus and goes back to old ways and so does their body. They lose their motivation. And some people just can't seem to find their motivation in the first place.

So what motivates you to lose weight? 

And once you find it, how do you get it to stay?

Motivation is something to prompt you to take action. Motivation is not just a one-time event, it is on-going. Motivation can keep you from eating foods you know are bad for you and Motivation can get you up in the morning to exercise. Motivation can come from a person or an emotion. Motivation is seen as an outside source, something to kick your butt and get you going. To me, motivation comes from the inside. In your heart and your mind, you can find that motivation to keep going.

Everyone is different. Every person loses weight at a different pace. In our advertising-overload society, we tend to over-analyze the commercials, the magazines, the stories that just don't seem too real. If we do believe them, we are discouraged when we can't do the same thing in our lives. If we don't believe them, we are discouraged because maybe it's not really possible to do it without a gimmick or pill. So we just trudge on, staying overweight.

My motivation after 8 years of struggling to lose weight was a photo. Ugh, that photo. The photo that motivated me to finally take action. I was wearing my fine maternity pants, and my youngest was 4 years old. It finally hit home. I still floundered for a while, but my motivation was so strong that I was unable to fail this time. I was very motivated to succeed because that photo showed me everything I had become was the opposite of how I viewed myself.

Being overweight has nothing to do with the kind of person you are inside.

But it does have to do with how you treat your body and may lead to other things that are "bothering" you or that you are "shoving under the carpet".

After training and helping clients the last five years, I've come to recognize many different ways of motivation for some, including:

• Clothing - wanting to fit in a certain clothing, ie a wedding dress, reunion dress, swimsuit.
• Money or a trip - this is a good way for some people. No results, no money, no trip.
• Contest - whether with a group of people or by themselves. Weight loss contest or upcoming 5K.

All of these are ways to motivate you, but again, I believe the motivation has to come from inside. Now in my case, I was very motivated by a contest. A weight-loss contest. It kept me accountable and it kept me motivated. But there was much more than the actual contest that helped me get the results I wanted. And also, this happened over a year's time. Don't think that you can get motivated and it's just going to happen. It takes hard work and determination, only part of motivation. I learned patterns, habits, destructive thoughts - all of these that hindered my weight loss in the past. Journaling is very constructive in weight loss. Discovering why you overeat, why you crave, why your body is like it is.

To find your true motivation, it takes soul-searching, looking into your past and being willing to make a change.

If you are not willing to make a change, it doesn't mean you are not motivated, it means you are not willing to make a change at this time.

The best motivation comes from inside when you are READY to face what's really wrong and make it right. I'm here to help you, friend!