May 26, 2011
But if you love a hot dog fresh off the grill; if you cannot resist the red, white and blue cupcakes and if you always rationalize eating the nine-layer veggie nacho dip to the point where any vegetarian benefits are swallowed by the quantity consumed as well as the chips used to transport the dip, then keep reading.
If you are like me, you have an abundance of knowledge about the evils of sugar but guess what? Sweet tooths don’t care about knowledge. If this rings a bell for you, then you have just enough time to devise your picnic plan so that you can think outside the picnic basket for this weekend’s food-filled festivities.
Firstly, do not depend on your willpower to resist forbidden food. Will-power weight loss is almost impossible unless you are anorexic. So you must have a picnic plan. DO you have a plan? That is the key to being a weight-loser. It is also unrealistic to avoid wonderful gatherings like holiday picnics. Life is meant to be lived and just saying the word “picnic” makes me happy. So go, but bring along these slick tricks for picnics:
All you have to do is devise a specific plan about what you can and cannot have and then set yourself up for success by doing the following:
1. Find out in advance what food will be at the picnic. If there is nothing healthy for you to eat bring something that fits that bill.
2. Drink a huge glass of water before arrival and have a healthy snack of some veggies. This will make the picnic pies look less patriotic.
3. Sit down to eat.
4. Chew each bite 20 to 30 times.
5. Do all the talking while everyone else eats.
6. Don’t drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks and know exactly what non-alcoholic drink you will switch to.
7. Bring something delicious, yet low-calorie to drink throughout the picnic. This will help keep you feeling full, which will slow you down.
8. Stand as far away from the food as possible. If you cannot reach it, you will not eat it. Don NOT sit down in front of the veggie nacho dip.
9. Find the skinniest person and sit next to them. Watch how they eat and try to eat slower.
10. Tell someone who loves you in advance of your plan and ask them to help you stick with it.
11. Bring a fun game so that eating is not the only activity. A Frisbee or a kite are excellent compliments to a picnic. More activity usually means that everyone has more fun, even the spectators
12. Throw out what is on your plate that you don’t want to eat immediately. When you are finished eating, tell everyone you are finished. Throw your napkin on your plate, get up, grab the Frisbee. If you are throwing a Frisbee you cannot hold a S’more, let alone eat one.
13. Stay busy. If you are not a sun-bather and there is nothing to do but eat, you will eat. If you can’t find anything to do besides eat, it’s time to pack up your basket and say your thank-you’s.
14. Wear clothes with a snug waistband. You will get immediate feedback about when you start to stretch past your comfort zone.
These tips may sound silly individually, but using them together is a solid plan. In technical terms it is called a countermanding action and is directly coorelated with successful weight loss.
These tips are boring but there’s a reason you hear them over and over. They WORK. But you have to actually implement them. Imagine waking up Monday morning feeling like jumping on the scales and looking forward to seeing what you weigh. Now that’s a patriotic idea.
May 20, 2011
You don’t have to understand how your primary olfactory nerve functions in order to smell and you don’t have to understand electricity to make toast in your toaster. In the same line of thinking, you don’t have to understand the complicated psychological component of weight loss in order to reach your goal.
What you do have to do is have a plan and stick to it. You also have to watch out for the tacks that exist along the road to the better you. No one ever feels like making uncomfortable lifestyle changes. Talk to a former smoker and ask them if they “wanted” to give up smoking. Lifestyle changes are hard. You just have to take Nike’s advice and “just do it.”
No on ever appears in the doorway of my little lobby cubicle of my gym to proclaim their excitement and enthusiasm for being at the gym. People solemnly enter, swipe their card, give a serious nod to the front desk staff, pivot robotically and head to the aerobic task at hand. But the locker room I am happy to say, is, a whole ‘nother step class. Locker rooms are perfect for listening. Nudity in the locker room always has a sense of purpose surrounding it. When I’m undressing or dressing, I always feel the need to expedite and I certainly discourage eye contact and conversation until I get my hoohahs covered up.
And sometimes, I get an olfactory earful. What did I hear? Comments like “I am SO glad to get back in my routine!” and “That felt so great to get a workout in!” as well as “Man, that was hard but I feel so much better now.”
I will always tell you to focus on how you’ll feel afterwards, not on the dread you feel prior to working out. Do you know why? Because I assure you that when you finish it, you won’t be the same.
Exercise will not only change how you feel about yourself, but it will make you more confident and effective in your daily life. I realize that it sounds like I am overstating things here, but by making changes with our body we can dramatically improve our life. Ask anyone who’s lost a bunch of weight and they will tell you that they went from being invisible to being noticed, from being overlooked to being taken seriously; to being more of whom they were meant to be; to being half full in all areas of their life rather than half empty.
That is because the exterior changes help you excavate into deeper, more profound inner changes. When you accomplish something that has a physical result — like losing weight — it changes ALL of you. You begin to consider that other, less visible changes, like switching jobs or making more money or ditching that bad boyfriend, might be possible.
Unfortunately, most of us are resigned to “half empty glass” self-talk like “I’ll never be thin, that’s just the way I’m built” or “All the women on my side of the family are big.” Or “I have a sluggish metabolism”. Mostly these are excuses for not changing. It’s easier to say yes to that cheesecake right now than to say no for a goal that might be a few months away.
But if you can get yourself to the gym and feel how it feels after, then you can remind yourself that each day of letting that half empty feeling dominate gets you one day closer to leading a half empty life. Is that what you want at the end of it all? To know that you settled?
And more importantly the opposite is true. Each day of making positive physical changes will add up to years then decades of being the more complete you, not only physically but also in all other areas of your life. Otherwise, days turn into years, the years into decades and before you know it you’re Elizabeth Taylor.
How do you become more successful and more productive? Exercise. Start with the outside changes and as the trickle down theory goes, your life will get better. You will look in the mirror and not only see it on the outside but you’ll feel it on the inside. Controlling your body will help you improve all other areas of your life.
Of course, you could always wait for the diagnosis or the divorce. But I suggest that you refuse to accept a half empty body or a half empty life.
Take one more look at your goals. Or better yet, get a new sheet of paper, take stock of your body as it is now and list the half empty, self-related misconceptions that you are resigned to. If your only option was succeeding, would you choose to make the change? This isn’t just a better body but a better life. Time to reinvent yourself.
Make sure to follow Penny on Twitter @pennylovehoff or visit her website for more health tips
May 20, 2011
Do you have any food saboteurs in your life? Like a husband who knows you are dieting but orders up forbidden restaurant food that arrives at your table on plates the size of manhole covers? Or your skinny “friend” who leaves the Belgium chocolate “just this once-it’s too yummy to miss!” on your doorstep? How about your co-worker who brings all her leftover Halloween candy to the office break room? Does your sister insist that you are not overweight (because you are not as heavy as she is) and therefore insist that you take a bite or does your mother bake your childhood favorite: chocolate filled double peanut butter cookies, on Day 3 of your Atkins diet?
Losing weight is torture enough without having to deal with negotiations about forbidden food. And with weight loss saboteurs, if you can spot them, then you can stop their effect on your weight loss efforts.
Here are six steps to sabotage their effect on you.
1. Tell your friends, family members and co-worker about your meal plan. Be sure they understand how important it is to you. Tell them exactly what you don’t want them to do. For example, tell your mother that you will not visit her if she has your binge-trigger cookies in the house.
2. Explain to them specifically why this goal is important to you, whether it is better health or weight loss.Be sure they understand how important it is to you and how they can specifically help you.
3. Ask them to support you. If your friends and family know that you need their support—by not offering you seconds or by coming to the gym with you– they will not be as likely to throw tacks on your diet path.
4. Be insistent. If you feel like they are forcing food on you, tell them straight out that it is not appreciated. Be specific with them by giving examples of things they’ve said to undermine your weight loss efforts. Don’t ask them to stop, tell them. With a smile.
5. If the chocolates are still appearing on your desk or the smell of peanut butter cookies assaults you when you open your mother’s door, avoid spending time with these people. Let them know that it is because they do not respect your effort to lose weight. You have a right to put yourself first.
6. Plan food-free activities. Meet for coffee instead of lunch. Take a walk with your mom, see a movie or go to the beach. Do something that takes food entirely out of the mix.
You can’t have it both ways. You can either allow these people to subvert your eating or you can be thinner. But you can’t have both.
May 13, 2011
Superstitions abound in the fitness world. They usually evolve accidentally when an athlete has a good — or sometimes bad — performance and then attempts to establish cause and effect by reviewing the facts of the performance.
Formerly inconsequential activities, like what they ate or wore, are examined as possible connections to the victory, especially if it’s unusual, like with baseball great Moises Alou, who urinated on his right hand prior to stepping up to the plate, which he claimed help him control the bat.
Tennis superstar Serena Williams said she lost the French Open because she didn’t tie her laces right, didn’t bounce the ball five times, and didn’t have her extra dress or her shower sandals with her.
If you are a golf fan, maybe you’ve noticed that Tiger Woods always wears red on Sundays of tournaments.
I don’t have proof, but I read that basketball legend Michael Jordan never played a game for the Chicago Bulls without his UNC skivvies underneath his uniform.
Wade Boggs never stepped on the baseball diamond without eating chicken beforehand, which is a whole lot of chicken, considering that there are 162 games each year. He also entered the batting cage at exactly 5:17 pm, ran sprints at 7:17 pm and wrote the word “chai” in the dirt before each at-bat.
It may sound silly, but research has shown that superstitions can have a placebo effect on physical performance. If you feel your current superstitions help you maintain your focus and confidence, then keep doing what you are doing. When you believe in a ritual, your mind becomes focused and more relaxed. Then you are able to concentrate on mechanics and technique, which allows your mind and body to sync up. Some people call it the zone, which is when all athletes perform their best.
Beliefs are just thoughts we keep thinking over and over again. If you know that peeing on your hand will get you to first base, then you probably will get a hit. Doctors have always known how critical belief is to healing.
Confidence and comfort are key components of athletic success. Being relaxed can allow your mental performance to improve your physical effort. Think of it as getting out of your own way. Sports psychology is based on visualizing all the details of winning as a technique to prepare both mentally and physically for competition. Superstitions can free up your mind to do just that.
So go ahead, pee on your hands, bark like a dog and turn your t-shirt inside out if it gives you the confidence to step onto the field believing that you will win. Just don’t let your mother see you do it.
May 6, 2011
Calorie Pop Quiz Time!
Read the following statements and label as True or False:
1. If you were given a large bucket of stale popcorn at the movie theater twenty minutes after you’d just eaten dinner, you’d still eat 34% more popcorn than if you were given a small popcorn.
2. Descriptive food names increase sales by almost 30%
3. The first thing people taste has a “halo effect” meaning if you or your fellow diner tastes something delicious first, everything after that, including the restaurant and the chef are rated as better, even if they are worse.
4. A really tasty brownie tastes better on china than on a paper napkin.
5. If you eat with a fast eater, you will eat faster and vice versa.
6. You can’t always tell when you are full due to external cues, like how much food is left on your plate.
7. Some foods have a health halo that making consumers eat more because they think it’s healthier for them.
8. Not only do you estimate “organic” and “low fat” foods as 20% lower in calories but you also reward yourself by eating even more.
9. Even if a low-fat food tastes worse than a regular fat food you will still eat 21 to 46% MORE.
10. If you are an exerciser and you watch an exercise ad prior to eating you will eat less but if you are not an exerciser you will eat the same.
11. If you are told you are taking an exercise walk you will end of eating more but if you think you are taking a scenic walk you eat the same.
12. If you use a big bowl you will eat twice as much than if you use a small bowl.
13. The shape of a glass can make you drink more.
14. You consume less if you eat 100 calorie packs, especially if you are already overweight.
15. You can prevent mindless eating with willpower and self-control.
All answers are TRUE except for the last statement, #15, which is FALSE.
Startling new research has proven that weight-control through willpower and self-control alone is a fallacy.
1. TRUE.Very simple things have a huge influence not just on how much but also on how frequently we eat. What to do? Always order the smallest size and use small containers, even if you want more, tell yourself you can come back for seconds. 8 out of 10 times, you won’t.
2. TRUE. If you think the milk is spoiled, you drink it looking for confirmation of that. Conversely, if you believe something is going to taste good, it will. Not only that, everything you eat afterwards, you will rate as better-tasting. The power of expectation is immense.
3. TRUE. If you are making dinner for guests, make sure that the first thing they eat or drink tastes delicious. That way everything else you serve will have the “health halo” and taste better—even if it’s not!
4. TRUE. People are willing to pay triple for food served beautifully. Serve yourself and others with the nicest presentation possible.
5. TRUE. Fast eaters make others hurry. Slow eaters slow down fellow diners, but not to as great of a degree as the fast eaters rushed their companions. It’s called the mimicry effect. Tip: Sit next to the slowest eater at the table. And try to eat slower than them.
6. TRUE. Studies have been done using refillable soup bowls where people unknowingly continued eating 73% more soup. They relied on external cues, like how full their soup bowl was, not their stomach. Beware: You count with your eyes, not your belly.
7. TRUE. People almost always underestimate the calories in places like Subway because they think it is healthier. This leads them to overindulge because they feel virtuous.
8. TRUE. If a food is labeled organic or low-fat you will eat 20% more. Beware of the devil wearing the health halo!
9. TRUE. This is referred to as the low-fat loophole. If you eat something you think is virtuous, you rationalize that you deserve a bit more.
10.TRUE. Watching exercise ads can bring to mind how much you have to do to work off calories. This is especially true for regular exercisers and not so much if you don’t exercise.
11.TRUE. If you think you just exercised, you estimate that you burned more calories and you end up eating more.
12. TRUE. A study from Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) proved that even if you think you did not take more from a bigger bowl, you actually will on average, eat 53% more. Plus you will have an excuse, like I didn’t eat breakfast today.
13. TRUE. Visual overconfidence cannot be underestimated when it comes to eating. You will pour and also drink 20% more from a short, wide glass than you will from a tall, thin glass.
14.TRUE. Studies also show that 100 calorie packs, although they are more expensive, can help overweight people think about portions. In contrast, 100 calorie packs either had no effect or made them overindulge.
15. FALSE. The secret to ending mindless eating is not to try to eat mindfully but to set up our home so that we mindlessly eat less. How? It’s simple.
-Use smaller bowls and plates.
Use taller, thinner glasses.
-Keep food off the table and out of sight.
-Use opaque containers for food storage.
-Make sure that the first thing you see in the fridge or cupboard is the healthiest. You are three times more likely to eat the first thing you see than the fifth thing you see.
-Package food in smaller containers. Even if you buy in bulk, watch out for eating in bulk! Repackage food into serving-sized portions.
-Use smaller serving utensils.
-Put fruit in colorful bowl so it’s the first thing you see in the kitchen.
-Sit next to the slowest eater at the table.
If your life is chaotic like mine, don’t rely on self-control. For every external cue that tells you to eat, you can solve the problem by doing the opposite. Your self-control deserves a break today, so get up and put that food away.