Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Healthy Weight Loss: Size Does matter

by: Nathalie Fiset

Most people look into the mirror and probably think that they could use to lose a little more weight. A little flab here and there could be eliminated and those extra pounds from that party should be lost ASAP. But how much should you lose?

Losing weight is not just a matter of making the fat and flab disappear when you want to. You're a human being, not just some clay statue to be scraped and molded. However, this is no excuse for not losing weight the healthy way. And as they say, there's no time like the present to begin.

For obese people or those whose weight is 20% more than the standard weight for their height and bone structure, it is imperative to start now. Even a decrease in 5-10% of one's current weight is said to lower the risks of heart ailments, respiratory diseases, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes and even cancer in obese people.

Obesity nowadays is not just a fashion or social faux pas anymore. It is just not good for the body. There's such a thing as malnourishment and big bone structure, too. Fat may be the main culprit behind obesity but it also involves an excess in the body weight regardless of the components.

According to the Body Mass Index, men should be within the range of 25- 29.9 while women should have numbers from 18.5- 24.9. Anyone above 30 should think twice before reaching out for that second serving.

Food diets and all sorts of other diets involving ingesting herbal pills or tonics have become quite popular nowadays. However, most of them are not clinically proven or nutritionally balanced. Safe to say, the only real way to lose those extra pounds is to leave the old life of eat- what- you- want and turn to a healthy lifestyle.

Changes in one's diet should not be abrupt, as this may make matters worse. As they always say, when in doubt about these kinds of things, consult your doctor or nutritionist. The diet is perhaps the most difficult thing to change but only if you make it that way. There are two rules when choosing a menu: first, control your calories through portions and quality; and second, don't eat what you can't stomach for long.

The rationale for these two rules is that healthy weight loss is a gradual process involving everything about you- physically, mentally, psychologically, etc. If you don't like the taste of certain "recommended" foodstuffs, don't force yourself. In the end, you'll just grow sick of it and give up altogether. Most dieters don't get it during their first try so don't be afraid to mix and match. Here are a couple of tips that may help:

Substitute low- fat varieties for your favorites or staples- the market is saturated with these products. Instead of whole milk, for example, use low fat milk or cream.

Have a diverse range of foods included in your menu. When you're raising a family too, involve them in your health program as to avoid tempting apparitions of brownies inside the refrigerator. Meat eaters should also know their veggies. Rewarding yourself is fine, just don't overdo it; better yet, eat "guiltless" goodies. After all, you're trying to be healthy.

Another way to remove those excess salts and fats from the meal is to remove the sources of additives when cooking. It wouldn't hurt to experiment with herbs instead of the usual salt, sugar and butter routine. Who knows, you could be the next master chef on the block.

If possible, condition your body to eat a certain amount at a specific time. It would be better to scatter eating portions around the clock over eating at one full go. Savor the little servings that you have instead of thinking about how full or hungry you are. This way, the intervals will allow the body to register that you have enough blood sugar in your system already. It will prevent feelings of deprivation and splurging.

Size and quantity does matter. That's why you want to lose weight, right? But being healthy does not equal to being thin. It's useless to eat a dozen low- calorie crackers at one sitting since those calories will only pile up. However, some foods especially those rich in fiber provide more bulk for their size, thus satisfying hunger cravings. These include fruits and vegetables.

Eating healthful food alone will not guarantee much weight loss. It takes a combination of physical exertion to utilize the nutrients and calories you have at hand. The body will adapt so there should be an effort to combat the efficient energy scheme your body will implement once the drop in calories start. The answer? Exercise.

If your reasoning goes along the lines of not having the time or energy left to exercise, you are not serious about being healthy. Forget about strenuous sports if you don't like them, exercise can be as simple as walking around while shopping, polishing floors or climbing the stairs. Strenuous exercise without proper supervision will only be stressful and result to over-eating. Simple aerobics can do wonders for the figure and the psyche. The endorphins released will make you happy and when you're happy, it's easier to stick with the program and avoid backtracking into the couch potato life before.

Losing weight is as hard as a block of granite. When done consistently and correctly, that block can be turned into the healthiest and sexiest sculpture around. Just don't forget that when you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.

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Weight Loss - It's in Your Head

When you truly consider the weight-loss process, the battle waged is mostly in your mind. “Should I eat the corn muffin with butter or would it be better for me to have margarine or better yet, have jelly? What am I doing eating this muffin anyway? It’s so caloric and filled with saturated fat. I’m such a pig. I have absolutely zero willpower.” It’s no wonder you’ll eat that muffin with the butter and slather jelly on top to quiet that negative self-talk.

What you need more than a diet is a way to shift those negative self-defeating thoughts to more adaptive, positive self-statements. As with most things worth doing, this requires a bit of practice. First, become aware when you’re using a negative statement, then determine what about that thought is faulty and finally, replace it with a self-defense response or coping thought. In the corn muffin example, instead of listening to “I’m such a pig” which clearly mislabels who you are, respond with “Pigs are animals and I am human. I don’t have to be perfect.”

Many people cannot change their eating habits until they change their thoughts about food, eating and drinking. By shedding “distorted” thoughts and replacing them with productive ones, eating habits can be changed. It is possible to rid yourself from many self-critical thoughts, but like any ingrained habit, it takes vigor and vigilance to change. Here are some other thinking distortions to challenge:

Shoulds. Should statements are more about other people’s values, not ones chosen by the person who wants to lose weight. Additionally, should statements reflect an attempt by the dieter to motivate herself without really believing in the value. Better to determine what works for you. “I will eat up to two Hershey kisses daily and thoroughly enjoy them.”

All-or-Nothing. This kind of reasoning is the foundation for perfectionism. An all-or-nothing individual views the world as black or white. Since there is no allowance for gray areas, the behavior is either perfect or a failure. “I’ve ruined my diet by eating all that pizza. I can’t stay on a diet and I’ll just always be fat.” Maybe the problem does not arise from the behavior… maybe the problem is with the diet that does not allow for pizza. “I do not want to give pizza up for the rest of my life, so what I need is a way to include pizza in my diet without feeling like a failure. Let me try having a salad (dressing on the side) before the pizza to take the edge off my hunger.”

Good Foods/ Bad Foods. If the truth be told, foods do not misbehave. Foods are not good or bad. While it is true that some foods have more nutrients or are more fiber-dense than others, all foods can be enjoyed. How we think about food colors what we eat and how much we eat. If a food is labeled as bad (such as fries), then for many individuals that food is taboo. When one eventually succumbs to eating the forbidden, French fries, bingeing may result. Rather than continue with dichotomous thinking of good food/bad food, shift to allow space for all foods you like without judgement. Instead of “I ate those fries which are so bad for me” to “I really enjoyed that small portion of fries. They really satisfied me.”

Body Distortions. Rather than dwelling on how fat or thin you think your body is, it is extremely helpful to view your body in terms of what it can do for you. For example, when you look in the mirror, instead of zooming in on your stomach which “looks five months pregnant, although your last baby was nine years ago” tell yourself “my body has given life” or “my body enables me to go where I want to and allows me to have fun.”

The conversations that are going on inside your head cannot be stopped. However, what you can do is to be aware of negative self-talk and understand that it has little to do with actual reality. When you believe this, you can respond to the critical voice with a more objective, coping thought. Although negative thoughts may not be stopped entirely, they can be quieted by listening to your compassionate, caring voice. In much the same way you would sympathize and listen to a close friend, listen to yourself. Be your own best friend and chances are you’ll have greater weight loss success.

Helene Haber

Holistic Nutrition Coach

Helene Haber, HHC is a board certified health counselor. She designs personalized wellness solutions for women of all ages looking to enhance their lives, get their bodies back in shape and their health back on track. Email:

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