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Posts Tagged ‘diet and nutrition’

9:24 am - Posted by Gregg

As a lifelong “dieting type,” I learned about being “on” and “off” of a diet from an early age. And I mean really early — from around first grade, when I began to show signs of gaining excess weight. Because of this, my parents — thinking it was for the best — put me on an overly strict diet. (Burger patty and cottage cheese, anyone?)

Even though very young, I realized that being “on” the diet that my parents prescribed was very different than when I was “off” of it. In fact, as a way to reinforce their strict eating rules, my parents removed all junk food and candy from the house and even put a lock on the cabinets containing crackers and other carb-esque contraband. (True story.)

We can debate my parents’ war against moderation all we want, but suffice it to say, I taught them a thing or two about being “off” of my diet. Not only did I start eating cake, candy and other kinds of junk food at every opportunity that presented itself (thinking I might never have such food again), I eventually began stealing money from my dad’s wallet in order to buy my own supply of sugar-tastic food from the local market. Of course, I could never let my parents find my secret stash, so I would eat most of it in one sitting (no matter how stuffed and miserable I felt afterward).

OnOff.

And the pattern continued. All the way up until post-college, during which time I weighed over 450 pounds. I know it was over, because my scale would only read ERR (short for “error,” I later learned after consulting the manual, since this particular electronic scale wasn’t programmed to register anything over a certain weight).

I’m happy to say that I eventually did take off all the excess weight (over 250 pounds of it) and have kept it off for over a decade. But along with healthy eating, plenty of exercise, getting enough sleep and drinking lots of water, I also had to tame my on-off-itus. And no, that didn’t happen easily. Even as I successfully dieted, I would have “on” days (on which I didn’t eat a morsel of food that wasn’t part of my eating plan) and “off” days (on which I would eat enough for two — myself and the state of California).

Being “on” or “off” usually leads to a cheater’s mentality. And that doesn’t serve us well whether we’re trying to lose the excess weight or simply working to maintain the weight loss.

It took years to retrain my psyche, but eventually I learned to “just have the cookie” if I really wanted one. Now, I should point out that we’re talking a cookie, as opposed to a bag of cookies (sprinkled over a vat of ice cream, in my case). The key is thinking like someone who eats and enjoys food in a healthy fashion. Yes, we really can have one cookie. Or one helping of potato chips (or whatever) on occasion and not wreck our commitment to eating healthy and looking amazing. And that’s because we can learn that unlike what we think when “on” our diets, we can have another cookie (or whatever) in the future, when a healthy opportunity presents itself.

Let’s face it — one cookie did not make us fat. It was eating whole bags full that did that. And much of our binge-worthy behavior is a result of the “on/off” mentality that being on and off diets has taught us over the years.

Remember that you and I are not trying to “cheat the system” by maintaining that old standard which dictates that being “on” a diet today means we’ll be “off” of it come the weekend. Instead, join me in learning that fine art of balance. Sure, that means sometimes saying “no” to decadent foods. And that’s because we want to be able to breathe after zipping up our jeans.

But at the next office birthday celebration, we can have a reasonable slice of cake. Not the whole cake. And not with a bevy of “secret licks of frosting” when no one’s looking. One delicious, treat-worthy slice of cake — and then we might even do a little power walk after we get home from work. That’s balance. That’s moderation. And that’s putting on-off-itus where it belongs — in our rearview mirrors.

Do you struggle with the “on/off” complex? Or do you have successful way of combatting it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. In the meantime, do me a favor and save a piece of that reasonably sliced cake for me.

Photo Source: DavidReport.com

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January 8, 2014

Resolution savvy

10:28 am - Posted by Gregg

It’s that time of (new) year when I’m bombarded with questions about losing weight. When learning that I took off and have kept off 250-plus pounds of excess weight over a decade ago, friends, family members and strangers all want to know my “secret.” When they hear it was accomplished through old-fashioned eating less and moving more, they register a look of disappointment (having wanted the “magic wand” answer). But they still commit to losing weight and getting into shape for the New Year — resolutions I whole-heartedly support via Just Stop Eating So Much! as well as my blogs written for The Huffington Post.

But no matter what your resolutions this January, you might be surprised that when it comes to the common “Out with the old and in with the new” attitude, I actually encourage people to hold onto the old.

There are lots of reasons for this — beginning with the unhelpful notion that we’ve been doing things “wrong” up until now. Fact is, now is where we’re at. This month. This day. This minute. And everything we’ve gone through (even the seemingly mistaken decisions) has made us who we are today. And this includes being someone who’s ready to initiate real and lasting change.

When we start bashing ourselves, mentally, or even deciding that we’ve been living life incorrectly, we fall into a trap that can actually lead us back to the bingeing (or whatever) cycles that got us into this need for change predicament in the first place.

Instead, I suggest not only accepting your past, but embracing it. Keep it as a part of who you are — and wear it as a gold medal ribbon that indicates you’re not only a survivor, but a thriver.

There are actually some very good lessons to be found in our past mistakes. For example, I remember when I used to overdo it, food-wise, and would wake up in the middle of the night in terrible pain, sweating profusely and tasting the remnants of the previous night’s meal in my throat because the food in my overstuffed stomach was virtually bubbling over. I also remember what it was like to have an important meeting (whether for business or even with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages) and having to say a “Hail Mary” (even though I’m not Catholic) in order to get my jeans up around my hips. (Side note: Mary often did not come through and I had to opt for sweatpants with a more forgiving waist.)

Remembering these things helps me in the now — even over 10 years after I took off all of the excess weight. It’s a part of who I am. I know these are situations I never want to have to experience again. Thus I now reach for an apple more often than a donut as a result. And on that same note, I even keep the reasons that I started overeating in the first place with me (abusive parents, sexual predator, my love of ice cream — the list goes on). To deny or suppress that any of these issues happened might lead the same kind of behavior that had me overeating in the first place — stuffing down these memories with food in an effort to try and block them from my psyche.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wear these life events as scars, but as merit badges… As proof that I have what it takes to survive. And that means I have what it takes to meet any goals (whether food-, health- or otherwise-related). Sometimes “Well, that happened” can be the best kind of therapy. With acceptance comes peace. And with peace comes the real ability to ask yourself, “Where do I want to go from here?”

So as January progresses and you look in the mirror with determination to accomplish whatever goals you’ve carved out for yourself, remember to look at your whole self… Every inch of yourself (both physically and metaphorically). You have made all the right decisions in the past — even if you would make some of them differently today. But just the very fact that you know this proves that you learned from those supposed “incorrect” decisions — and that you can make more productive decisions from here on out.

Own your “old.” Embrace it. Accept it. And choose to move forward — hopefully with not only determination, but also grace, gratitude and a sense of humor (all of which will, thankfully, add no additional calories to your New Year eating plan).

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July 23, 2012

Don’t be a pill

9:24 am - Posted by Gregg

Photo Source: wsbradio.com

Big news in the world of dieting… The U. S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new prescription diet pill named Qsymia. Note that I refer to this as “Big news,” as opposed to “Good news.” And this is because, personally, I don’t think anything out of a jar or bottle (whether prescription strength or over-the-counter) can ultimately provide what we really need to take off the excess weight.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the desire for a “Cure all” that’s as easy to incorporate into our lives as taking a pill or waving a magic wand. When people find out I used to tip the scales at over 450 pounds, they excitedly ask me how I lost the excess weight. When I tell them I did it by eating less and working out more, people often register dissapointment — as if I’ve given them unsettling news that they would have rather not heard. These same folks usually never stick around long enough to hear that by using common sense I not only took off all that excess weight (over 250 pounds!) within a year’s time period, but also have kept it off for over a decade.

Nope. People are too busy wondering about elective surgery (“I know! I’ll have a foreign object inserted into my body and wrapped around my stomach!”) or some kind of diet aid (“Guess I shouldn’t wear white underwear while taking Alli because of the anal leakage“). The list goes on. People want the “magic pill” — in its various incarnations (including surgery). And they’re willing to pay big bucks for it — not to mention potentially sacrifice their health as a result of ingesting it and/or undergoing it.

As for Qsymia, yes — patients did lose weight during clinical trials (going down from an average of 227 pounds to an average of 204 pounds) according to CNN. But some consumer advocates are worried because some patients involved in the clinical trial suffered from an increased heart rate as well as metabolic acidosis (a condition which can lead to hyperventilation, fatigue and anorexia). There are additional concerns about birth defects since one of Qsymia’s ingredients is topiramate (an anti-convulsant that has been linked to cleft lip and cleft palate in babies born to women who took topiramate for migraines and/or seizures). And who knows what other potential side effects might be found out as a result of taking a drug like Qsymia for a lengthy period of time? Anyone remember Fen-Phen and its harmful side effects?

While “curing” being overweight through anorexia (one of Qsymia’s potential side effects) might initially read as ironic, it’s a reminder that anything that can potentially harm our health deserves serious consideration. The whole point of losing weight and getting healthier is to avoid having to take pills for other ailments (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.). So why take an additional pill to help the other ailments we already take pills for?

Fact is, at the end of the day, it’s all about willpower. And this willpower can work in both directions. Just ask people who’ve undergone gastric bypass surgery who spend the first weeks after the procedure throwing up violently because they insist on eating the same amounts they did before the surgery, even though their stomach has been made smaller and can’t handle the same amount of food.

The good news is that willpower can also work for you, rather than against you. And this means you’re already armed with everything you need to conquer the battle of the bulge. No pills or magic wands necessary. Just start cutting back your portion sizes, choosing healthier foods (at least during some of your meals) and begin a simple exercise program like walking three to five days a week. Add drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep to the mix and you just might be surprised how quickly you’ll go from feeling ‘so fat’ to ‘all that’. We’re all supermodels after all. And the path to realizing that is simpler than anything you might find in a jar, bottle or on the shelf.

Remember in The Wizard of Oz, when Glinda the Good Witch told Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas?” Well, much like Glinda (sans the glitter), I’m here to tell you “You’ve always had the power to lose the excess weight.” It really can be as easy as ‘flipping the mental switch’ and deciding today’s the day you’re going to begin your journey to true and lasting health. No diet pill (new or otherwise) required.

http://youtu.be/11BQQvVy8LI

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