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11:59 am - Posted by Gregg

Visiting the farmers market during summer months is always a delight because one of my favorite farmers picks out a watermelon for me to enjoy during the next week. When fresh, crisp and sweet, I find watermelon as enjoyable as a bowl of ice cream. And yes — I still enjoy naturally made ice cream or frozen yogurt from time to time. But I balance those treats out with fresh fruit. And during the summer, I do everything I can to enjoy watermelon for all it’s worth.

Studies have revealed that besides being delicious, watermelon delivers several health benefits, including being an excellent source of Vitamin C as well as a good source of Vitamins A and B6. It also contains the carotenoid antioxidant lycopene, which can help neutralize free radicals and help prevent prostate cancer. Watermelon has been shown to reduce the risk of other types of cancers as well. Plus, its high water content makes it great for hydration. What’s more, it’s a terrific dessert or snack for kids and can help them understand that not every “treat” has to come covered in fudge.

When given the option at the farmers market, I always go for seedless watermelon. I’m not a happy camper if I must interrupt my chewing with spitting seeds into a nearby napkin (even though I suppose it burns a few more calories).

According to produce specialists, Mid-June through mid-August is when watermelon is at its ripest (with July being the most prized month of all). So let’s go watermelon shopping, shall we?

When picking a whole watermelon, size matters since 80% of a watermelon is water. Pick one of the largest you can find, while making sure the exterior doesn’t have any visible cuts, bruising, dents or soft spots. Experts also suggest looking for a yellowish area on the melon’s exterior, which indicates its ripeness after sitting in the sun.

Next, do what you’ve likely seen other shoppers do — knock-knock on the exterior with your knuckle. You’re listening for a slight echo to your knock, which indicates that the fruit is ripe. A dull thud could indicate otherwise.

When preparing watermelon for guests, or myself, I make sure to make the eating experience as relaxed and “special” as possible — therefore I don’t usually serve it in wedges. Giving food a more delectable presentation is something I strive for almost every time I eat. This helps my brain, eyes and other senses know that I’m eating, which helps ‘up’ the enjoyment factor — and, therefore, the satisfaction and fullness factors.

I suggest slicing watermelon into quarters, length wise, then taking a quarter and carefully running a knife along the red center’s outer edge and the whiteness of the rind. Cut all the way around on both sides, so that the whole quarter of the red stuff could slip out. But don’t slip it out just yet. Next, cut the fruit from side to side, on both exposed sides of the quarter. Finally, cut across your long slices, from left to right, leaving about 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch between each slice.

Next, slide your perfectly prepared chunks into serving bowls. But before you serve the fruit, put the bowls into the freezer for 5-10 minutes to give the fruit an extra kick of crispiness.

When time to serve, pull the bowls from the freezer and serve with a napkin underneath (to keep the bowl from being too chilly to the touch). The watermelon chunks should have a minimal layer of frost that kicks up the flavor and the crunchy quotient, making for a texture-y, sweet and delicious eating experience. (Careful not to keep the chunks in the freezer too long or the pieces will freeze and require a little defrosting before being comfortably edible).

Saving the uneaten portion of the watermelon can be handled two ways — either by “chunking up” the remaining portion and putting it into airtight containers and storing in the fridge; or wrapping up the other half or quarters (rind and all) in cellophane wrap and then wrapping them in an additional plastic bag before putting into the fridge (to avoid having to clean up leaked watermelon juice at a later time). Plan on consuming the leftover fruit sooner rather than later to enjoy it at its freshest.

Watermelon. When enjoyed at its peak, it can kick ice cream’s butt anytime. Or, at the very least, tie it in deliciousness.

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1:32 pm - Posted by Gregg

A guest post by Women’s Health and Lifestyle Expert Shannon Sullivan:

Have you ever thought to yourself, “My life would be different if I had a different body?”

For me, that was the thought process throughout my high school and college years.  Almost anything that didn’t go my way — when I didn’t get invited to the party I wanted to, when I didn’t get the attention of the boy I wanted to, and when I didn’t feel right in the clothes I had.  I can vividly remember making a loose set of plans with the popular kids in high school and then waiting by the phone at home (this is all b.c.p. — before cell phones) for a call from them.  I was showered, hair done, new outfit on and ready to go!  As the time ticked by, I started losing hope.  I started feeling stupid, lonely and went into this spiral about how no one liked me.  So what did I do? Did I call other friends? No. Did I try to salvage the evening and make other plans? No.  Did I think of an activity that would improve my mood? No. I bee-lined it for self-sabotage. I went to my “go-to” comfort food: white Wonderbread and Skippy peanut butter. This was the quickest, easiest way to make me feel (slightly) better.

This was emotional eating at it’s finest (or worst, depending on how you look at it). I was hurt and thought if I were only hotter, with a better body I would be out with the popular kids right now. There are a couple funny things about this situation:

1) The lack of phone call was not nearly as malicious as I thought. These loose set of plans were just those, and I didn’t bother calling them to confirm.  All of this was in my head.

2) If I thought I wasn’t thin or attractive enough, why on earth would I do something (eat junk) that pushed me even farther away from this goal?

After half the loaf was gone, I felt sick. Slathering creamy, sugary peanut butter onto slice after slice of white bread will do that to you, especially when you’ve already had dinner and you are not the least bit hungry. I was stressed and using food to both ease the stress and punish myself, but I’m not the only one:

Fact: In the past month, 26% of teens say they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods because of stress. More than half of these teens (52%) engage in these behaviors weekly or more.  

After overeating or eating unhealthy foods, teens report feeling bad about their bodies (41%), disappointed in themselves (40%) and sluggish or lazy (39%).  

Unfortunately this kind of repeated behavior not only affected my waistline, but also my mindset — I felt worse about my body, I was disappointed in myself and didn’t feel like moving at all. And that mindset stayed with me for over a decade.  Everyday I was in this constant struggle of wanting to change the way I thought about food, the way I used food, and the way I treated my body. And more often than not, my emotional eating would win out over my willpower.

27% percent of adults say they eat to manage stress and 34% of those who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say this behavior is a habit.

I stopped volunteering for things, stopped going to parties, just put everything on hold, thinking that as soon as I found the diet that works, or go to the right boot camp I’ll get the body I want. And then (and only then) will I be able to be happy and start living the life I want. But c’mon — that can’t happen without the perfect body, I don’t deserve it until I have that perfect body. Boy was I wrong!

You see the big game changer for me was to actually get out and start living first. I needed to start laughing more, enjoying life more, and figuring out what made me authentically happy. Then, I focused on getting a whole lot more of that in my life, and stopped relying on the food.  I had a void that I was trying to fill with food, and, big surprise, it wasn’t working!

Now I relate to so many women who are feeling exactly how I used to feel. I know the frustration and I know the struggle, and now my mission is to do something about it! It took me well over a decade to change my mindset, but I love helping women expedite that process and learn from my own mistakes, learn from my own trial and error. Because I lived it, and it was painful, and if I didn’t make a change I knew it would rule and eventually ruin my life.

So will your life be different if you have a different body? Yes! But it’s so important to put things in the right order, and if you’re someone who IS putting their life on hold, who has tried every diet under the sun and failed, and who is ready for a major change before heading into 2016 — great! There’s no better time than the present!

I’m here to help! Join me at a free virtual summit that will help you understand how to stop putting your life on hold and stop “weighting!” It’s called The Fat Girl Slim Summit: Learn to Love your Body, Release the Weight, and Confidently Live the Life of your Dreams and features interviews with over 20 women’s health and lifestyle experts (including Just Stop Eating So Much’s own Gregg McBride) — each of whom will teach not just the nourishment factors, but also the mindset strategies and emotional components that will allow you to fall in love with your body and release the weight that has been holding you back. If I had access to this sort of expertise all at the same time, I know my past would have looked a lot different! I’m inviting you to make that change possible for you, now, in your own life!  Click here to reserve your spot!

For statistics source, please click here.

About the author of this guest post:

Shannon Sullivan is a women’s health and lifestyle expert.  Shannon, along with sister Meg, co-founded Whole Food Love, a company dedicated to helping women combine real food and real life.

After working with so many incredible women, it became clear to Shannon that today’s modern woman doesn’t need just meal plans and food education.  She needs a way to prioritize herself and her health, learn to love her body and design a lifestyle that works!

Shannon believes that when we view each action as an “act of love” toward our body, we make better decisions about what we put into our bodies, lessen the negative self-talk, and ultimately learn to live life confidently!

 

Editorial Photo Source: gistsdey.com
Shannon Photo Source: Shannon Sullivan

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August 31, 2015

Watermelon 101

12:58 pm - Posted by Gregg

When it comes to eating “cleaner” and “fresher” foods, it’s no secret — doing so usually means re-training your taste buds. There are so many additives, food substitutes and chemicals in over-processed junk food that often when we start a healthier eating regime, so-called ‘healthy’ foods taste like cardboard.

In my first book, I write about giving taste buds a couple days (or more) to adjust to the new way of eating – while assuring readers that eventually the healthier food will taste better. And yes, this means the unhealthier foods will begin to taste worse. In fact, I can tell when food is overly processed with too many additives, too much salt or (heaven forbid) has trans fats as an ingredient. It’s not a matter of not eating this junk to avoid going back to weighing over 450 pounds – I simply hate the way these foods taste and hate how I would feel (lethargic, nauseas, physically ill) if I still consumed them.

Thankfully, nature has some goodies of its own that can rival even the sweetest cakes or frozen treats. And one of these bounties is good ol’ watermelon. When fresh, crisp and sweet, I find it as enjoyable as a bowl of ice cream. And yes, I still enjoy naturally made ice cream or frozen yogurt from time to time. But I balance those treats out with fresh fruit. And during this time of year (just before the winter months hit), I do my best to enjoy watermelon for all it’s worth.

Studies have revealed that besides being delicious, watermelon delivers several health benefits, including being an excellent source of Vitamin C as well as a good source of Vitamins A and B6. It also contains the carotenoid antioxidant lycopene, which can help neutralize free radicals and help prevent prostate cancer. Watermelon has been shown to reduce the risk of other types of cancers as well. Plus, its high water content makes it great for hydration. What’s more, it’s a terrific dessert or snack for kids and can help them understand that not every ‘treat’ has to come covered in fudge.

When selecting watermelon, I always go for seedless. I’m not a happy camper if I must interrupt my chewing with spitting seeds into a nearby napkin (even though I suppose it burns a few more calories).

According to produce specialists, Mid-June through mid-August is when watermelon is at its ripest (with July being the most prized month of all). Good watermelon can still be found even now. But its time is growing nigh. Even if imported from warmer climates during the winter, it’s likely not as delicious as the fruit the summertime month’s offer. So let’s go watermelon shopping, shall we?

When picking a whole watermelon, size matters since 80% of a watermelon is water. Pick one of the largest you can find, while making sure the exterior doesn’t have any visible cuts, bruising, dents or soft spots. Experts also suggest looking for a yellowish area on the melon’s exterior, which indicates its ripeness after sitting in the sun.

Next, do what you’ve likely seen other shoppers do – knock-knock on the exterior with your knuckle. You’re listening for a slight echo to your knock, which indicates that the fruit is ripe. A dull thud could indicate otherwise.

When preparing watermelon for guests, or myself, I make sure to make the eating experience as relaxed and “special” as possible – therefore I don’t usually serve it in wedges. Giving food a more delectable presentation is something I strive for almost every time I eat. This helps my brain, eyes and other senses know that I’m eating, which helps ‘up’ the enjoyment factor – and, therefore, the satisfaction and fullness factors.

I suggest slicing watermelon into quarters, length wise, then taking a quarter and carefully running a knife along the red center’s outer edge and the whiteness of the rind. Cut all the way around on both sides, so that the whole quarter of the red stuff could slip out. But don’t slip it out just yet. Next, cut the fruit from side to side, on both exposed sides of the quarter. Finally, cut across your long slices, from left to right, leaving about 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch between each slice.

Next, slide your perfectly prepared chunks into serving bowls. But before you serve the fruit, put the bowls into the freezer for 5-10 minutes to give the fruit an extra kick of crispiness.

When time to serve, pull the bowls from the freezer and serve with a napkin underneath (to keep the bowl from being too chilly to the touch). The watermelon chunks should have a minimal layer of frost that kicks up the flavor and the crunchy quotient, making for a texture-y, sweet and delicious eating experience. (Careful not to keep the chunks in the freezer too long or the pieces will freeze and require a little defrosting before being comfortably edible).

Saving the uneaten portion of the watermelon can be handled two ways – either by “chunking up” the remaining portion and putting it into airtight containers and storing in the fridge; or wrapping up the other half or quarters (rind and all) in cellophane wrap and then wrapping them in an additional plastic bag before putting into the fridge (to avoid having to clean up leaked watermelon juice at a later time). Plan on consuming the leftover fruit sooner rather than later to enjoy it at its freshest.

Watermelon. It’s not just for summer picnics anymore.

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January 29, 2015

Mourning cereal

10:49 am - Posted by Gregg

Believe it or not, way back when when I was tipping the scales at 450+-pounds, I would go through a box of cereal in 2-3 days. My “trick” for accomplishing such a feat was to nibble as much cereal as I was pouring into the bowl. Had I bothered to check the suggested serving size, I would have seen that I was eating for 4. Of course, my 60-inch waist sort of made that clear already. Needless to say, I wasn’t paying attention.

To this day, I crave and love breakfast cereal. To the point of obsession. Because of this, there have been times that I’ve considered cutting it out of my diet altogether. But with a bunch of healthy cereal options available today along with the fact that cereal is a fast, convenient and delicious way to have breakfast (one of the most important meals of the day – whether on or off a diet), cereal is something I wanted to learn to live with.

But even when preparing cereal today (at 175-pounds), I still feel the urge to pour cereal into the bowl while also having a ‘cereal appetizer’ while standing at the counter. If I didn’t regulate myself, I could easily go through a third of a box of cereal or more. That’s why I never trust myself to pour cereal freely. Instead, I pour it into a measuring cup before I pour it into my breakfast bowl and add my sliced banana. And for what it’s worth, I measure the 2% milk I use, as well.

This might come as a surprise to some of you reading this. Most people assume that because I’ve kept my 250 pounds of excess weight off for over a decade, that I’ve got this weight thing beat. That’s true in some respects. But part of what keeps the excess weight off is knowing that I’ll never really have it beat and that I can never let my guard down. My daily food intake is something I’m always thinking about, planning for and paying attention to. Not in a mentally unhealthy way, but in a efficient way. Or weigh, as the case may be.

Whenever I reveal to fellow dieters that I must still pay attention to and even sometimes measure my food portions, they often register disappointment – as if they thought that once you take the weight off, you magically never have to think about dieting again. But in truth, this ‘food and health consciousness’ must become a part of ourselves that we never leave behind (even during those times when we decide it’s okay to have ice cream – or whatever – as a treat).

This need to ‘stay on top of what and how much I eat’ is reiterated almost daily for me – usually when I’m preparing breakfast and pouring breakfast cereal. I know that I can’t be trusted. So even though I’ve been “thin” for years and happily fit into my skinny jeans, I still get the measuring cup out and measure the exact amount of cereal necessary for a healthy and low calorie breakfast. It could be argued that, by now, I should know what a ‘cup’ holds. But when it comes to cereal and other ‘tempting foods,’ I know that my mind’s version of a cup full and real life’s version of a cup full are two very different things.

In other words: When it comes to cereal, the measuring cup is my friend.

But none of this has to be bad news. No matter what your most tempting foods are, you can still have them – in moderation and in healthy portions. And with tools like measuring cups, we can ‘eat like a thin person’ and not overdo it to the point of triggering a binge, stuffing ourselves to the point of discomfort or making our skinny clothes feel too tight.

What are your tempting foods? Do you still allow yourself to have them even if on some sort of weight loss program? Or do you try and avoid the foods for the time being? I’d love to hear from you on this topic. We can even discuss over a bowl of cereal. Assuming you’ve got a measuring cup I can borrow.

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January 8, 2015

Mean Green Beans?

12:46 pm - Posted by Gregg

Confession time… There are some days when something as simple as a green bean can really piss me off.

Sure, I’m committed to healthy eating – and for two main reasons. First, to stay, well, healthy. Second, to keep the 250 pounds of excess weight (that I got rid of) from ever creeping back on. Because I was overweight for a large part of my life, eating healthy foods in healthy portions is something I find I always must think about. I liken it to riding a bicycle. The minute I stop peddling, I fall down, skin my knees and potentially gain 250 pounds.

This all amounts to a whole heck of a lot of self-regulation. And there are many rewards for doing so: Wearing a pair of jeans without being in total misery until I disrobe… Not accidentally realizing that I’m using my stomach as a makeshift shelf to rest my hands or other objects on (yes, I’ve done it)… Not being out of breath just from talking on the phone… And more.

But even with all of these great rewards, there are days I resent what’s required of me to stay fit and healthy. And on certain days, the targets of this resentment are green beans.

Yes. You read that right. Green beans.

I target green beans in particular because they have become a staple of my healthy eating regimen. A typical dinner for me consists of a medium to large-sized chicken thigh, sliced cherry or grape tomatoes and steamed green beans. And most times when I have this meal, I enjoy it greatly. Afterwards I’m satisfied and full – but never stuffed or in pain from eating too much. And I know it’s these ‘stricter meals’ that allow for ‘treat meals’ when special occasions or big time cravings call for it. It’s all about balance after all.

Still, there are times that green beans really piss me off. I resent having to clean them, steam them and having to sprinkle a little balsamic vinegar over them before sitting down to my typical Gregg dinner. I wonder to myself, ‘Why can’t I be having pizza instead? Or maybe a pile of mashed potatoes smothered in butter?’

There are occasions during which I’m convinced that green beans are out to get me. I see them, all bunched together (a gang, if you will) – smugly mocking me from the safety of the plate, as if they’re saying, “You have no choice but to eat us.”

Of course, the joke is on them – mainly because I remind myself that I do have a choice. It’s absolutely my choice to have the green beans. Or mashed potatoes. Or an ice cream sundae or a… Well, you get the idea. I can eat anything I want for dinner.

It’s at this point that I must think about what I really want. ‘Really’ being the key word.

Sure, I could forego green beans all together. I could replace them with another healthy vegetable that I can steam and enjoy (on most days) without added salt, butter or other substances that would make the vegetables less healthy. The fact is, green beans provide an affordable and healthy meal staple for me. And by eating them, I get all the benefits of looking good and feeling great. Isn’t that worth a little resentment from time to time?

As dieters, we often think we’re being denied certain things in life. And for most of us, those ‘things’ are food related. But here’s where we can all benefit from a shift in thinking. It’s not about what we’re being denied, but what we get in return for the choices we make: Smaller waistlines. Healthier heart rates. Clothes that fit. And knowing we look good when we walk into a room. Isn’t that worth the occasional harassment from a gang of spiteful green beans? I think so. And I’ll bet you do, too.

So next time you feel mocked by your healthy food choices, put a fork in them and chew them up gleefully. In other words, remind ‘em whose boss. After all, it’s the healthy choices we make today that benefit us tomorrow.

Do green beans or another healthy food staple sometimes piss you off? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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