Monday, October 17, 2011

Why do we have to give up so much to be healthy?

When it comes to weight loss, why is it more about deprivation than enjoyment? Why is it more about hard work than just getting by? Why can't it be smiles and balloons instead of crying and cravings?

One of the most common complaints I hear when someone starts a weight-loss program is the deprivation factor. The fact that they cannot eat like they used to. The fact that it is so hard to get workouts in a busy schedule. The fact that they can never have a certain food again, ever. But is it really forever?
  • Do you have to give up the 'forbidden' foods forever? 
  • Do you have to give up having an occasional treat of sugar or alcohol? 
  • Do you have to work out every day for the rest of your life? 

But, do you want to lose weight or what? 

No, you don't have to give up the 'forbidden' foods forever. But, what's wrong with limiting them for a short period of time and seeing if you can overcome the EMOTIONAL obstacles associated with that food. Instead of thinking of it as a chore to 'give up' that food, look at it realistically. Could that food or over-indulgence of that food be stalling your weight loss efforts? Sometimes you don't have to give it up. Sometimes you can just limit or moderate it. But other times, it seems to have a hold over you. Why? If you have been trying to lose weight for many, many years and what you have been doing DOESN'T work, then doesn't it make sense to try something else that may work? Think about it...

No, you don't have to give up having an occasional treat of sugar or alcohol. But, again, what's wrong with limiting them for a short period of time and seeing if you can overcome the EMOTIONAL obstacles associated with that food or drink? We are a give-me-everything-now society and what has that done for us? We have what we want when we want it. We don't take care of what we have and we get rid of things we don't need to. Is it working for us? No, we are more overweight and more obese as a society. So, if it's not working for you, why not try something else.

No, you don't have to work out every day for the rest of your life. But are you trying to lose weight or are you trying to maintain your weight? I have been lucky enough to maintain my weight for the last 10 years and I can tell you, I haven't worked every day during those 10 years. I've taken days off, sometimes weeks off. But, I am not trying to lose weight. When you make the commitment to LOSE weight, you are going to have to do something different. So, if you had to work out 5-6 days a week for a short period of time to lose the weight, is that so bad? It's not going to kill you. It's going to save your life. It's going to make exercise a habit and help your body so much.

Why do we have to give up so much to be healthy?

Who is giving up? When you make the commitment to lose weight, you are not giving up your life. You are living it. You are changing it. You are proud of it. You are becoming the person you were meant to be. So do it. Will you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gwinnett's Losing It! takes it to another level

Weight loss is hard. Permanent weight loss. Not the temporary, here take this pill or drink this shake 3 times a day weight loss. The kind of weight loss that changes your life. With our national obesity rate rising every year along with the increase marketing and promotion of "special" products designed to help you lose weight, why is it so hard? If all of these pills, shakes and workout equipment worked, then wouldn't we as a society be healthier? We can be. It starts with the inside and Gwinnett's Losing It! is a good example of that.

A second round of Gwinnett's Losing It! started August 15, 2001 in Gwinnett County and ends 12 weeks later on November 4, 2011. 20 participants have 12 weeks to change their bodies, and their lives. How do they do this?
  • By learning how to incorporate strength training into their workouts
  • By learning how to do effective cardio workouts
  • By learning proper nutrition strategies for their daily life
  • By attending weekly teleconference calls
  • By attending monthly group meetings
  • By competing against other people with the same goals and same frustrations

The participants met for an afternoon at Lake Lanier Islands Resort for a kick-off in August, which included a boot camp workout and hike, a healthy lunch and emotional boot camp workshops. They train for a 5K in September, in which many complete for the first time. They attend another boot camp workout in October and conclude at a ceremony in November to celebrate their success.

But let's hear it from the participants themselves:

  •  "The past eight weeks have been very exciting. They flew by and I am wishing this contest was much longer as I am having too much fun! Training for the 5K unified us as a team. I am extremely proud of myself that I have worked hard to consistently lose 1 lb a week and pushed myself to run the entire 5K. I am feeling healthier and happier."
  • "I have not lost a lot of weight during this contest, but I am losing inches and gaining muscle. I am wearing two sizes smaller. This contest has helped me 'like' myself again. Overall, I try to be a positive person around other people and they think I am happy. When I am by myself, I do not smile much. I have been unhappy with myself for quite a while. Because of this contest, however, I am eating right, treating myself right and seeing some results. The other day, I caught myself smiling inside."
  • "My workout routine is now becoming a way of life. I never realized how important weight training was before but now I plan to make this a forever thing. I can't and don't even use the term 'diet' anymore. I still enjoy an occasional bite of dessert or special 'family' food, but really don't enjoy stuffing myself with bad nutrition choices. It has been very valuable to me to know that I'm not in this battle alone!"
  • "I am learning how to take better care of myself in various ways. Learning to jog has been great. Running the entire 5K with my friends was very special and motivating. Seems like I am surrounded by sick people, however I am staying healthy and strong. Sometimes, I just giggle to myself about what I am becoming. I like her."
  • "When the 12 weeks are up, I will have a plan that I can continue to follow and that I can live with. Because I am not in this just for the 12 weeks. I am in this for the rest of my life. I am not on a diet, I am living healthy. Sure I will still have days when I will struggle to get my workouts in, I will still forget lunch and be tempted by those chicken fingers, but I have learned that I have to be a priority in my life and that taking care of myself is as important, no really, more important than anything else I do. And I think I have made strides that will make this easier in the future." 
  • "I am so excited by my week 8 results. I have lost a total of 9" and lost 24 lbs. I completed my first 5K race and ran a mile for the first time in 30 years. My blood pressure remains normal and migraines appear to be a thing of the past. While these physical changes are impressive, I have found the emotional changes to be even more important. I have learned how to really push myself. I have consistently planned and cooked healthy meals for my family, even when fast food restaurants called to me on the drive home from work. I have found an inner strength that I never knew I had and intend to use that strength to achieve my weight loss and fitness goals long after this competition is over."
  • "The past eight weeks, I have made major improvements to my nutrition. I have completely cut out soda and junk food. I think making the decision to cut those two things completely out has been one of my best decisions ever. Knowing that my life will and always be changed from doing this competition. I can't wait to continue my life on the right track."
  • "It has been an amazing eight weeks. I have dropped 14 lbs in a plain ol healthy way with good food and exercise. The best part is I have done this in a realistic approach that I can live with. I have not done any extreme fad dieting, taken any pills or even extreme workouts. I have not given up every food I've ever enjoyed, I'm simply learning how to use moderation in my eating. This time is different. I have no special occasion goal, I have a life goal. I am learning, slowly but surely, how to 'start with the inside' and I am confident that I will continue losing at least 1 lb a week until I'm at my goal and maintain it." 

Congratulations Gwinnett's Losing It! participants and good luck during the last three weeks! Cannot wait for the Finale Celebration on Wednesday, November 9th at 550 Trackside in Lawrenceville! Stay tuned for more details.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Why so hard on chocolate and candy?

It's that time of year again, time for October and chocolate overload. The stores are jam packed with chocolate candy bar bags, candy corn, candy pumpkins. All designed to lure you [and your kids] to the other side. The candy sugar side. Don't worry. Only 70% of our population is overweight and obese. Sugar has nothing to do with it. Chocolate is good for you. They keep telling us that.

So why is Sandi so hard on chocolate and candy?
Why does she have to ruin all the good chocolate holidays?

Because I have a job to do and I do it well. I do my research, I love my job. I deal every day with overweight and obese people who are addicted to these things. I deal every day with overweight and obese people who have bought into the idea that chocolate is good for you and helps with PMS and helps you get antioxidants into your body. Because I have been there myself. As a chocolate devotee myself, I know the devastating affect it can have on your body when you are trying to be fit and healthy. Now don't get me wrong, I have chocolate. But not like I used to. And not all the time. I believe in moderation in all things. HOWEVER, there are times when you have to take it a step further than moderation and steer towards elimination. Temporary elimination. Why?
  • Chocolate/candy is a trigger food for you. Meaning you have one and you want another one immediately.
  • Chocolate/candy is an emotional food for you. You eat it when upset, or when PMS strikes, or when you celebrate. The food is linked to good times and bad and it is a HABIT.
  • Chocolate is a unhealthy food for you. The chocolate in today's candy is NOT the healthy chocolate all the research articles are talking about. The cacao bean is healthy, but the FORM of cacao bean that they are talking about, the healthy one, is not even present in today's chocolate. It is full of preservatives, unhealthy additives and unnecessary ingredients to make it palpable for our sweet-loving palates.

I know, stop already. I'm like a chocolate nazi.

I don't care. I am going to keep speaking the truth, even when it hurts. I care about my client's health and well-being. I care about our children and the unhealthy habits we carry on to them. I care about our nation's obesity rate and the link between unhealthy foods and habits.

Hence the No-Candy Pledge. What started as a joke last year around this time became a fun thing to do. Could you not eat candy or chocolate for one month? Would it be good for your health? Would you be willing to try? If chocolate is a trigger food or problem for you, I challenge you to try it. Visit my fanpage on Facebook to download the pledge. Print it out, sign it and put it somewhere so you can see it. Challenge yourself. And then tell me what it does for your health. Will you?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What to do when everything goes wrong

Life is hard. Weight loss is hard. Put the two together and yikes, double-hard. Everything goes okay for a while, and then bam - chaos happens, somebody dies or gets hurt, people change, events happen - and before you know it, everything seems to be going wrong and you lose focus. Or lose your mind. Or so it seems.

I see this all the time with my clients. In reviewing their weight loss history, there always seems to be a time when everything goes wrong. Something happens that sets them back - an event, a person - something happens to them and they just let themselves go. They lose priority in their lives. And their health suffers. I deal with this all the time - trying to help clients overcome the emotional chaos that keeps them from living a healthy life and having a fit, healthy body. It happens to everybody, it happens to me.

In July, everything pretty much went wrong. At least it seems that way. Less than two weeks out from doing a tri with a client and coming home from a great ride with a friend, I crashed my bike. Totaled it. No big deal, right? At least that's what those around me said. "Just get another one". Um, I don't just ride any bike. It's my baby. I ride 100+ miles a week. It's my workout partner. I love my bike. And it's expensive. Boom, just like that, starting over. I ended up backing out of the tri because I am too stubborn to borrow a bike from anyone and ended up letting down my client as well.

Just like the United States right now, I am having debt and financial difficulties. Like everyone else around me. Every time I hear something about the US debt in the news, I think about my situation and how to apply what they are doing to what I am doing. It doesn't work that way. But the pressure is on and I feel it all the time. It feels overwhelming and never seems to end.

Ups and downs in relationships. I don't believe in true love because it's too much work. Seriously, when will I ever get a fraction back of what I give? I know, that's not the intent of love. You are supposed to give and give and give and not worry about getting back. But crap, you'd think I'd get a little something back more than this. I see relationships around me crumble and wonder if I am next?

So through the stress and the time when everything goes wrong, what happens to my health? What happens to my fitness? Nothing. I don't win in the triathlon with my great bike. I don't pay off all my bills in a flurry. I don't get the love I deserve. I just muddle on through it. I'll figure it out. I still eat clean, pretty much anyway. I had a brief sorrowful return to the 'ol ice cream solitude, but got over that quick. I still get in my workouts. Dropped the tri schedule, quit the bike rides, but found some other workouts that I hadn't done in a while, so kept moving. I'll figure it out. Kept doing the things you are supposed to be doing. Kept my family intact and kept my faith that someday I'll be rewarded for doing good. I'll figure it out.

It doesn't all have to make sense. But you can't lose your health over it. You can't just stop working out because things happen. You can't just start eating crap because things happen. You can't just give up because bad things happen and everything goes wrong. You just have to pick yourself up, believe in the good in people and situations, and go on. You'll figure it out.

It's August and I still don't have a bike yet. I'll figure it out.
They cancelled my upcoming Olympic tri in September [who cancels a tri?], so now I am raceless goal-wise. I'll figure it out.
The bills keep on coming and I keep paying them. I'll figure it out.
The relationships keep going up and down. I'll figure it out.

But while I'm figuring it out, I'll stay healthy, I'll stay fit. I'll keep living a healthy lifestyle because otherwise, I'm just a statistic that happens when everything goes wrong.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The big egg debate

We are approaching Easter weekend and the eggs are plenty, which brings us to the big egg debate. Yes, big egg debate. Okay, you knew it was coming. I'm taking on the "Cadbury Egg". You expect as much, right? Not only did I author the "Candy Pledge" during Halloween, call for moderation during the holidays and the ever-popular "Let's find an alternative healthy present instead of chocolate" on Valentine's Day, but now I am attacking another sacred holiday, Easter.
  • Chocolate Easter bunnies
  • Chocolate Malt Balls
  • Jelly Beans of every color and size
  • Marshmallow Peeps
  • And of course...Chocolate Eggs, Reese's, Cadbury, Russell Stover, just name a brand, they have chocolate eggs galore
Let's look at the regular egg. Okay, we decorated it up a little bit for the Easter celebration.

Nutrition Facts:
90 calories
7g fat
0.4g carbohydrate
6.3g protein
Ingredient: Egg

An egg is a healthy food, right? Let's compare it to one of our friendly chocolate counterparts, a Reese's chocolate egg...

Nutrition Facts:
180 calories
11g fat
18 carbohydrate
4g protein
25g sugar
Ingredients: Milk chocolate made with sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, lactose, soy lecithin and PGPR [emulsifiers], peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ [preservative].

Okay, a little bit of difference. Yes, calories for our little Reese's chocolate egg are double that of a regular egg. Yes, there are more carbs and less protein. Yes, if you have attended my Healthy Shopping 101 class, you know that the chocolate egg has some "-ose's" in there and what that means. You have to come to class to find that out. Okay, I'll give you a clue. If an ingredient ends in "-ose", it is a processed sugar. You can remember that by -ose = Gross.

But, let's take it a step further. What's the most important part of this comparison? The ingredients! What's in an egg? Yes, that's right, an egg. No additives. No preservatives or emulsifiers. What's in a chocolate egg? Not only that, but picture eating an egg. How is that egg processed through your body? Picture eating a normal egg. It's natural, it breaks down easily, it goes thru your body. Picture eating a chocolate egg. It's processed, it sticks, it doesn't go thru your body easily. Oh, and the chocolate egg has 25 grams of added sugar. 32 grams is daily recommended. That could be a problem.

Here's the hard part. We as a society are programmed, marketed heavily to, convinced that "chocolate is healthy" and that eating one of these sales and marketing wonder eggs is going to make us healthy. But it's not. And most of the time, we can't just eat one. If you eat one of these, fine, but what about 2 or 3 or more. Multiply that 25 grams x the amount you eat. And now we are talking sugar overload and guess how your body processes that? Ever wonder why when you wave goodbye, the upper part of your arm goes with the wave? Ever wonder why when you walk up the stairs, somethings jiggle a little bit more than they should? Ever wonder why you look in the mirror and are unhappy with your body and the way it looks?

Hey, now I am not blaming the lowly chocolate Easter egg for all of those things. But, it plays a part. The egg, the natural egg, is healthy for you. The chocolate egg, the processed egg, is not healthy for you. So if we know that, then the next step is finding out how we can convince our mind so that when we are at the grocery store, we reach for the healthy egg and not the unhealthy one. And then when we are at a friend's house for a meal and there are chocolate eggs abound, we use moderation or control because we care about our bodies. And then when we decide what to give our kids pretty Easter baskets filled with goodies, we use moderation and control and focus on the reason for the holiday, or the reason for showing our love to them.

Love does not equal a chocolate egg
Love does not equal a chocolate bunny

Still with me? I know this is hard. I know I am attacking something that is very near and dear to people's hearts - chocolate goodies. It takes time to overcome a habit and eating chocolate eggs is and has become a habit for many people. It's just something we do every Easter. And then beat ourselves up because it makes us feel awful. There is an easier way. There is a way to overcome our chocolate obstacles and it start with the inside. What are our emotional ties to chocolate? What are our emotional habits? Why are we afraid of being good and sticking to what we know we should eat?

There is no real definite answer to these questions. All you can do is start today. Start doing what you know you should be doing. Start making healthier choices for your body, your health, your life. And no sales and marketing company is going to do that for you, you have to. So my question to you is, will you? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gwinnett's Losing It! Videos

Here are the links to the two videos that were shown on the Finale...

Yes, it's the "Rocky" theme, you know I was going to put that in it! The participants talking about what they want to accomplish and why during the 12-week contest. Honest talk from honest people. Can you relate to any of them?

Another theme song, this time from "The Biggest Loser". This time after 12 weeks. Do they look different to you? The 14th participant is "Miss Kit", my black and white kitty who is a prima donna and who wanted desperately to show off for the camera. Notice what the last participant Vicki says at the end of the video, "I AM GOING to be..." Wow.

Celebrating Success - Part Two

An update for Gwinnett's Losing It! continues...

Gwinnett's Losing It! is not just about losing weight. It's about changing your body and improving your health. The participants in this program were judged on four criteria:
  • Weight, starting and ending
  • Photos, starting and ending
  • Essays, including goals and 3 other essays every 4 weeks in the competition
  • Progress Reports taken every 4 weeks, including measurements, clothing size and bodyfat percentage
This is important to remember because losing pounds alone does not make you a healthy person. Our society places too much emphasis on weight alone, when we should really be looking at the whole health of the person as well, which is what this contest was striving to do. So, while the person who lost the most amount of weight did not win 1st place, he certainly made a lot of other changes as well.

January 2011
After 12 weeks
Winning 3rd place is Mickey Hamilton. Mickey is married and has 3 daughters and 2 grandchildren. As the only man in the competition, he has enjoyed it immensely. His goal was to live longer and be here for his family and friends and to start walking 3 miles a day with the family and liking it. His obstacle was travel and eating in restaurants. His biggest accomplishment for this competition was conquering the nutrition challenge. Mickey has lost 52 lbs., 12% bodyfat and untold amount of inches in this 12-week competition. While the weight loss is impressive, even more impressive is the fact that Mickey has drastically reduced his diabetes medication, he has made remarkable progress in that when he started he could not walk for short distances and recently, he just completed his first two 5K's. He is amazing! He has truly changed his life and I look forward to working with him even more as he continues his weight loss/health journey! These photos are of his legs when we started and after 12 weeks.

Winning 2nd place is Velma Busby. Velma has been married for 30 years. She has 2 sons and 3 grandchildren. Her goal was to lose weight and get healthy and make this a permanent loss and lifestyle change. Her obstacle was to not give in and eat the way she used to. Her biggest accomplishment for this competition was learning how to eat clean and put workouts in her everyday life and enjoying it. Velma has lost 24 lbs, 10% bodyfat and 8 inches. Velma is a hot grandma! When Velma started with me, she was discouraged about her body and her energy level. She is not now! Velma has stuck like glue to her workouts and nutrition changes and has really changed her life. She no longer has to take medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, and has truly made the changes to better her body and her health.

Winning 1st place is Vicki Rice. Vicki is a widow and has 2 sons and 3 grandsons. Her goal was to be able to do the exercise program and reach set goals. Her obstacle was food and eating out at restaurants. Her biggest accomplishment in this competition was running a 5K and reaching her weight goals. Vicki has lost 26 lbs, 8% bodyfat and 16 inches. Vicki is a powerhouse. 6 years ago, Vicki's husband died unexpectedly. She took it hard and was not good to her body. This contest changed the way she looked at her body. She overcame bad habits and learned new ways to deal with the hurt in her life. She, like all of the 13 contestants, learned to share with our group in a private, safe setting, the hurt that has held her back for so long. She let it go. And in doing so, she flourished in this contest. My nickname for Vicki is "Ms. Consistent" because she is. She is consistent in her workouts. She is consistent in her nutrition. She is consistent in setting and meeting her goals. Week after week, she continued to make progress and set the standard high for herself and those around her. I am so unbelievably proud of Vicki and her accomplishments. And she was on the front page of the Gwinnett Daily Post, which I absolutely loved!

There is so much to tell you about this contest that I think I will have to do a "Part Three" to truly show you what we accomplished as a team. So I will do that. But in closing, I want to point out that these three individuals have many things in common:
  • They are all grandparents [can you believe that? Do you understand why I always say that AGE is just a number!]
  • They all had obstacles and they overcame them. 
  • They all had goals and they met them. 
  • They all had to deal with special situations-traveling, stress in the job, eating out at restaurants, time constraints, life. And they did it anyway. 
  • They are all winners - they have their bodies and their lives back. 
I hope when you read their profiles, you see something that strikes you - either for you or for someone you know - that gives you a glimmer of hope. Hope that you too - or that someone you know - can finally overcome the obstacles of losing weight. Hope that you too can set and make weight loss goals with success. Hope that you too can change your body and life. So, now will you?

Our next Gwinnett's Losing It! will be August 15, 2011 through November 4, 2011. See my website for more details. Part three to come...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrating Success - a Gwinnett's Losing It! Update

Wow - what an amazing 12 weeks! Our Gwinnett's Losing It! team finished their weight-loss journey, but ended up changing more than just their weight. As a group, they lost 293 lbs. As a group, they lost an average of 7% bodyfat and 10.5". In 12 weeks! But they won more than they lost...[in their words]
  • No more blood pressure medication. This may mark the end of a competition, but not the end of a journey as a team and family.
  • I'm learning not to focus on the scale so much but the total picture of becoming healthy and building lean muscle. The change in nutrition has made the biggest difference for me. 
  • After starting this challenge, it was like my life started coming together and gave me the ambition to get out and do something with my life. I no longer have to take my diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure medicine.
  • I have gone from a person who thought they were going to die by overeating to a person that is in total control of what goes in my mouth. 
  • I have more self confidence and self esteem than I have ever had in my life. I don't ever recall being happy with me. I can finally say "I love me". 
  • I have finally taken control of many cravings that I thought I would never be able to overcome. I have accepted that I cannot passively live my life, I have to be an active, attentive participant.
  • I now know that my body is capable of. I am now on the road to recovery for a lifetime. I feel awesome. 
  • I have found me again. I have learned I should come first. My health allows me to take care of my family and my business. 
  • I am proud of myself. Proud to have met a great group of new folks from our community, and proud to have been given the chance to change my life forever. 
  • I am better, fitter and stronger because of this challenge. Although I've lost a few pounds and a few inches, I've gained a new perspective on what being a winner means. It means finishing the race. 
  • I have a newfound respect for my body and soul and what I do with it and put into it. 
  • I have learned that by sticking to routine and being mindful of my nutrition is the way to make my goal. I have learned that by setting smaller goals to reach for is better than looking for that end result. 
  • We no longer have the identity of extra pounds to hide behind. Instead we are a group who have changed for the better. I am going to live to see so many other journeys because I made the change and became the winner. 
Do you see what I mean now? This was NOT just a weight loss contest. This was a contest to change lives. I'll have another post with photos of our celebration night as well as additional information on the winners, but I'd like to end this blog with a portion of my speech on that special night, directed towards the competitors of Gwinnett's Losing It!:
"Every single one of you has made an impact in my life. Every single one of you deserves to win this contest. You have given me your trust. You have given me your health. You have given me your lives. And I am truly grateful for that. I have worked hard to not let you down and I can tell you, you didn't let me down. I truly love all of you and I wish the best for all of you. Whether you win 1st, 2nd or 3rd, you all deserve winning and you already have the prize you need - you have your body and your life back. And one last thing, I will be watching you, I know where you live and I will come and beat you if I have to."
Yeah, I know, I had to add that last line. That's just me. Congratulations to Gwinnett's Losing It! competitors who changed their lives. So, now are you ready to take the plunge? Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Realizing a dream - Gwinnett's Losing It! Update

We are going into Week 10 of Gwinnett's Losing It!, a 12-week weight loss contest in Gwinnett County. Week by week, the stakes are higher as we get closer to the end of the contest and the realization. Realization that this is going to be over soon and realization of a dream. The dream of losing weight.

It hasn't been easy. At all. The battles are still there. Outside forces, inside forces, you name them, all of the reasons why 60-70% of Americans are overweight or obese. Not these people. They have decided to realize their weight-loss dreams and actually enjoy part of the process. They completed a 5K together. From Week 8 Progress Reports:
  • "The past 8 weeks of my journey to weight loss has been filled with what I know realize is "fear". I realized that I have been afraid to push my cardio workouts. Why? Simply put, I have been afraid of being alone and collapsing."
  • "I thought even looking at cupcakes and dessert would be my biggest temptation. No, that wasn't it. It was the outside influencers who just don't care and are annoyed that I'm taking parts of my life back. That was scary, difficult to rationalize and sad. There were tears this time and hurt feelings that not everyone got what I was doing to change my life."
  • "I've had hard times when I didn't think I could do another minute on the treadmill or when I made a bad nutrition choice. Reality has set in. The newness factor is gone. This is it, no going back."
  • "This contest has shown me that what I'm really hungry for can't be found in the bottom of a bag. I'm hungry for a healthy lifestyle, which includes coming to terms with my emotional eating, changing my relationship with food and fitness and improving my body image."
  • "Why is it so difficult for me to stay concentrated and my head aiming forward? I allow my blinders to become transparent. I have not gotten into the full mindset that I can do this; that I can lose the weight once and for all. I have been trapped for so long now it is like an affliction that is hard to let go of."
  • "My body has finally responded to the change in nutrition. The cravings have subsided and I have embraced a healthier eating lifestyle. It was tough mentally more so than anything else."
  • "I haven't been concentrating on setting the examples per se, because I have learned that losing weight and getting yourself right physically and mentally is a very selfish process and until I get myself right, I can't fully devote myself to helping someone else, even if she is my child."
  • "The day Sandi told me that nutrition was 80% of the battle saved my life. I went from the person who thought they were going to die by overeating to a person that is in total control of what goes in his mouth."
  • "This has truly been a life changing experience for me. My health and habits get stronger and better every day."
  • "These last 8 weeks is proof positive that the weight loss journey is not an easy one. I believe that you must have your heart in this process and that doesn't mean you have to be perfect but it does mean that every day I have choices to make with what I put in my mouth and what time I have planned to get my workouts in just as if it were a Dr's appointment."
  • "I am putting on the blinders and removing all negative thoughts. Week 12, here I come."
  • "I think the most valuable thing I have learned so far is to listen to my body. My body has been screaming at me for years. I chose not to listen. I was sluggish all the time. Exhausted all the time. It never occurred to me that I was so sick inside. A bad diet and lack of exercise is toxic. Just as if it were hazardous waste."
  • "I have found a strength and perseverance that normally I would have given into self pity and indulgence. I have learned that life surely has it challenges and it is how I respond to them that will make me stronger and better."

Do you believe these people? Do you believe that they winning their battle at weight loss? They are. Please help me encourage them as we face the last two weeks of this contest. After 9 weeks, they have lost a total of 244 lbs. Want to see it in person? Come to our Finale Event and Health Fair at 550 Trackside in Lawrenceville, hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

16 Principles of losing weight

Do you want the honest truth? Losing weight is hard work and it is an emotional battle, as well as a physical battle. Yes, you can try to work out. Yes, you can try to eat right. Yes, you can try to get your head into it.

But - if you cannot do all three of those things - you won't lose weight!

Here are 16 principles I shared with the Gwinnett's Losing It! group on our conference call this week:
  1. You have to forgive yourself for getting to this point in your physical life. You got overweight, but it’s in the past. You have to get over it. 
  2. You have to realize that you have what it takes inside of you to get healthy. You have to start listening to your inside voice, your instincts about what is good for you and what is not. Stop listening to outside forces that are out to make a quick buck.
  3. You have to push yourself past your preconceived limitations. You have to realize that in order to make progress, you must push yourself to go beyond what you have been doing in the past. Esp. in weight loss mode, which is where you are right now. When you get to maintenance mode, you won’t have to work this hard, but get there first. 
  4. You have to realize that to take care of everyone else, you must also take care of yourself. You have to understand that being flippant about your health is not going to help you lose weight. 
  5. You have to realize that you are worth this. 
  6. You have to realize that this is not a temporary change. This is a lifestyle change. 
  7. You have to give yourself a break if you are not perfect. 
  8. You have to stop making excuses. If you get injured, you deal with it and move on. You can still make changes in your nutrition to offset an injury. 
  9. You have to leave the drama behind and change your reaction to people around you that are stressing you out so that you are healthy and you are positive, no matter what is going on around you. 
  10. You have to forget the past and what you have done in the past to lose weight. It didn’t work, because you are overweight now. You have to stop looking for an outside thing to help you lose weight and focus on just getting the job done. Get your workouts done, eat right, just get it done. 
  11. You have to realize that it takes time to get your journey finished. Celebrate the small things along the way that happen. 
  12. You have to not quit. Ever. 
  13. You have to be open to change. 
  14. You have to not be fearful of your future, whether you are alone with someone. Be healthy for you, for your life. 
  15. You have to keep the good stuff going. Ask when you need help. Call on your friends when you need help. You can’t do it all alone. 
  16. You have to stop thinking that just because you are in a contest, you are going to lose weight. It takes work – both in your workout as well as your nutrition, but mostly in your nutrition. If you are not going to make any nutritional changes, then you will not see a change in your body or your weight.
Do any of these apply to you? Which ones? 

What can you do today to make the changes necessary so you CAN workout, you CAN eat right and you CAN get your head into it? Will you do it today?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tears and fears - Gwinnett's Losing It! Update

We are going into Week 7 of Gwinnett's Losing It!, a 12-week weight loss program in Gwinnett County, Georgia. There's been plenty of tears, screaming, frustration, facing fears and success in the first six weeks. But enough about me, let's talk about the's what I've learned at the halfway point of our contest:
  • All 16 participants have come from different backgrounds, but we all connect in some way or another. 
  • All 16 participants want to win the contest. From our 55-year old grandmother to our 36-year old single mom, they want to win. 
  • All 16 participants are working hard to overcome obstacles of every day life during this contest, some more than others. They are finding out that most of the time, the emotional obstacles are even harder to overcome than the physical obstacles.
  • All 16 participants are learning about healthy weight loss and that it is not always as it seems out there in the real world. Our media glamorizes weight loss and continually bombards us with crazy diets and programs that are designed for a quick, temporary fix. They are learning to put on their blinders and focus on their own success, as small as it may be from week to week
It has been a battle of tears and fears:
  • "I know that I have set a better example to my family and friends who are watching me"
  • "I'm learning to take time to plan meals and prepare for the following week. This is a lifestyle change and I realize it takes time to be fit and healthy"
  • "What an eye-opening experience these first four weeks has been. I never would have thought that I would be eating clean and working out"
  • "More difficult than cutting out fried foods is the mental struggle of removing the words 'I can't' from my vocabulary"
  • "My doctor decreased all my medicines by 25% and eliminated one that I have taken for 4 years now and this is only the beginning"
  • "I have heard 100's of times that nutrition is the key to weight loss. I have always believe that if I work out hard enough, I can eat whatever I want. With this contest, I have paid close attention to my eating habits and have made some real substantive changes"
  • "I have learned how proper nutrition is mandatory to how your body feels. I look forward to working out every day. I don't feel deprived, hungry or tired. I feel clean mind, body and soul"
  • "Although competing against other contestants, my toughest opponent is myself. It is a daily struggle, fighting against bad habits, busy schedules and lack of confidence"
  • "I am loving how my clothes are fitting and the comments I am beginning to get from people who are noticing how I am looking"
  • "It was frustrating to realize that it wasn't the food that was the problem, it was me"
Tears have come - tears of frustration, tears of happiness, tears of realization
Fears have come - fears of the past, fears of the future, fears of the unknown "Can I do this?"

And the answers are still to come. We are halfway through this journey. And it is exciting. It is exciting to see each person literally and physically change during these 12 weeks. It is challenging, it is heart-breaking, it is life. Each of these 16 people, these hard-working, beautiful inside and out, people, all came to Start With The Inside to change their life. Inside and out. And they are doing it. And I'm so proud of them! After 6 weeks, 180 lbs. have been shed!

Please make plans to come to our Finale Reveal/Health Fair on Thursday, March 31st at 550 Trackside in Lawrenceville. More details to come...

Also, please help me encourage these courageous 16 people for wanting to change their lives and then doing it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Lies - The Truth about Dark Chocolate

Oh, there she goes again. Before I go into my next tirade about the un-benefits of chocolate, let me explain a little of my writing style...
  • Start With The Inside Fanpage - Updated daily with tips, recipes, motivation, quotes and facts to keep you educated about the emotional battle of losing weight. 
  • Articles - Two to three published articles per week, one is Biggest Loser Recap and others are geared toward losing weight. More education and facts and some opinion. 
  • Start With The Inside Blog - All opinion, most of it biased because of my experience in losing a large amount of weight and being successful at keeping it off. May have a tendancy to piss someone off because here, I don't like to mince words. 
Okay, thought I would give you some options in case you are one of those tender hearts who just can't hear anything bad about chocolate. And you don't want to hear the truth. The truth is that as a fitness professional, I am like a square peg that doesn't fit in the round holes of society.

I don't think that chocolate is good for you.

I know. Unbelievable. Every day, we hear of a new "study" - surprise - "chocolate is good for you" and leading the pack now is "dark chocolate is good for you". Blah, blah, blah. I guess it would go over better if I hadn't so much experience in the chocolate arena myself. I used to be a chocolate addict. Every day. Every occasion. Just name a month. I can tell you something chocolate-related in that month. So can you, I bet. Our society is fixated on chocolate, esp. women. As women, we are bombarded daily with:
  • Chocolate helps PMS
  • Chocolate helps stress
  • Chocolate is good for you
  • Chocolate has vitamins
The chocolate of older days, remember I am the "horse and buggy", old-fashioned girl, was healthier. It actually had cocoa in it, healthy cocoa, which in today's product has been so overloaded with sugar and added preservatives that it is now officially "crap". Sugar and fat crap.

Now, before I lose you completely, do I still have chocolate today? Yes. I do. But I don't have it every day. And if I do have it, it is a portion, not a overload of it. I still love chocolate. I still consider myself a chocolate addict. But moderation is KEY! And it is not a daily or weekly part of my life now.

And, I love the feeling of being healthy and fit.

I don't feel that way when I eat chocolate. Here's what it does to my body:
  • It affects my bodyfat percentage and how my body burns fat
  • It affects my emotional wellbeing, makes me feel depressed
  • It affects my body, makes me feel like crap
Granted, I am super-sensitive now because I live my life as a fit and healthy person, so I notice much more now then I did in my chocolate-addicted days. Back then, it was just a tool that I used to get me through my day.

  • Don't deal with reality, just have chocolate
  • Don't make the changes you need to, just have chocolate
  • Don't open your eyes, just have chocolate
I got tired of it. I don't want to have chocolate run my life again. And so I challenge you to see what role chocolate has in your life. It doesn't mean you can never have it again, I do. But, is it a crutch that has you not dealing with certain issues? If it is, then guess what? You can live without it. It's not socially acceptable. It's not fun. But it is possible and if I can do it, so can you.

The chocolate "studies" are going to keep coming out because someone's going to make money from it. Who do you think is behind all of these studies? Do you think they would actually say that chocolate is bad for you? What would that do to food retailers and other companies who rely on our addictions to make money? What would that do to Valentine's Day? Would we actually have to find another substitute for love, or for showing our love?

Okay, biased opinion done. It is possible to have a chocolate-free Valentine's Day. Just thought I would throw that out there. Now here come the chocolate-lover hate e-mails and smart-ass responses. Go ahead, I'm a big girl, well not as big as I used to be, but go ahead, I can handle it. Criticize me, blow me off, but if you have an inkling in your heart that what I said might be true, I say go with it. Will you?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Counting Weight Watcher Points - What's the point?

I don't get it. I shake my head again as I talk to another friend/acquaintance who tells me the same story I hear over and over "I'm going back to Weight Watchers to count my points". Oh, okay, because it worked so well for you last time?

I do not understand the concept of counting points to lose weight!

Oh, I can understand the technical part of it. You have a certain amount of points that you eat per day. You have a certain amount of points for activity each day. Your job is to count points and stay within your range for that day. Kind of like counting calories, but it's not. A calorie is not a calorie in Weight Watchers apparently because you can still have a day of desserts and not go over your daily allotted points. Huh?

But - the emotional part. Two things:
  • The counting part. Taking the emphasis off the nutrition of the food, the wholeness or goodness of the food you are eating, esp. eating natural food as opposed to packaged foods. But just counting. Doesn't that get old? It's a die-it, which means you will most likely "die doing it". Well, that's what it means to me. 
  • The part where you think it will work this time. Most people start with this program, lose some weight, but not all, but keep working the program and never actually get to their goal weight. BUT - their mind REMEMBERS that they lost a few pounds using this, so they go back to it, time and time again. Anytime you need to lose weight, oh, get out the points, here we go. 
Why not deal with the emotional part of losing weight? 
Why not deal with food cravings? 
Why not deal with emotional attachments to foods? 
Why not deal with emotional habits to foods?

Because the bottom line is:

You're not going to make the changes that you need to make by "Counting Points". This is a temporary fix. Do you really want to count points every day of your life. Can't you just enjoy your life without living inside a points box?

You can.
You can lose weight.
You can do it by using common sense.
You can do it by a good nutrition program, a good cardio program, a good strength training program, a strong backbone that allows you to become stronger emotionally.
You can do this.

I can show you how. So, will you?