Tag Archives: supplements

6 Rules for a Healthy Lifestyle

It has occurred to me… or really, it slowly crept on me, that by logging my food every day and striving for the perfect calorie goal, I am simply trading one obsession for another. I either compulsively over-eat or I obsessively diet, accepting nothing but black and white. Logging works great for most people. Logging worked well for me initially.. I just wonder if maybe logging my food has caused a mental rift in my mind between “good” and “bad” foods and “good” or “bad” days.

It’s like I believe that my nature is inherently always gravitating to the “bad.” My knee jerk reaction is to make the days I don’t log the ones where I frantically, excitedly, guiltily scramble to fit in every “bad” food I have been missing over the past few weeks of meticulous calculating and logging everything I ingest.

I made the decision to learn to eat better without logging during this past week. I was having a conversation with my roommates at the dinner table about my habits, my likes, my dislikes, and my overeating issues. One of my roommates, who has always been able to think of just about anything objectively, suggested that I attempt to wean off of logging and look at food as just food. The suggestion was appalling at first; “Logging works,” I thought, “There’s no reason to fix what isn’t broken.”

His suggestion planted itself like a seed in my mind and grew until I realized that my goal was never to be so obsessed with losing weight. My goal was to learn healthy habits, to get to my goal weight, and to look the way I wanted. It occurred to me that my logging obsession is just as mentally unhealthy for me as overeating is for my body. An unhealthy mind cannot make a healthy body. My solution was to utilize something I learned from a class for adoptive and foster parents that I had to take for my job. In order to run an orderly household, parents need to make clear, concise, simple rules that govern the household, such as “be kind,” “be respectful,” and “be honest.” I needed to make rules like these for my lifestyle so that I could simplify it rather than over-complicating it with numbers and figures.

1.) Only eat when hungry. This is a habit that logging completely broke me of doing. I got into a groove with logging that led me to believe that I should eat every 2-3 hours on the dot and that I should eat only what fit into my macros. While this is effective for some, I lost some of my ability to recognize hunger signals and deal with hankerings for random food items by replacing them with healthier options. The result is that on days when I didn’t log, I ate whatever I damn well pleased because that’s what I felt like having. This does not lend to a healthy lifestyle throughout. I can’t only be healthy when I log; I need to be making healthier choices all the time. I’m trying to create a lifestyle, not a cage.

2.) Try to keep each meal under 500 calories (estimated). Eating smaller meals as a guideline helps with portion control and allows me to spread my calories out over a long day at work. Since I’ve been logging for so long, I know what most of the foods I have been eating lately contain as far as protein and calories. This also keeps me from trying to meet a calorie goal for each day and gives me some flexibility. I may only feel like eating 1,000 calories one day but feel like eating 2,300 the next day and have all the energy for a workout.

3.) Eliminate as much sugar as possible. I know that sugar is the enemy, you know that sugar is the enemy, but we still eat a lot of sugar in our coffee, in snacks, and in sauces because it’s freaking delicious. It also causes cravings and helps our bodies to retain fat, so it has to go. As I let go of the logging process, I want to try to replace sweet food items that I normally would have eaten, especially at the end of the day, with something just a bit less sweet but still satisfying. I’ve also been trying to steadily drink my coffee just a little bit darker each day so that I can eliminate the daily use of sugar in my coffee as well. Sugar is a trigger for me, and I have avoided eliminating its evil from my life for too long.

4.) Get a fruit or vegetable on every plate. This rule follows my sugar rule because fruits and veggies have fiber that help break down sugar more slowly and help with digestion. Not only that, but a fruit or veggie with each meal can help me feel full longer, give me essential nutrients, and gives me a reason to try new things. Whether I slap spinach on a turkey burger, avocado on my scrambled eggs, or replace pretzels with carrots, getting something colorful on each plate encourages healthier habits and a healthier body.

5.) Drink a lot of water. I carry a 32oz bottle of water with me all day long, drink about two of those, and then have another couple of glasses of water at dinner. Some days I drink more than others, especially if I’ve been sweating a lot in the gym. Water is the magical elixir of life. Just drink it.

6.) Forgive yourself and move on. If I had a particularly rough day with food choices, no one is going to know it but me, regardless of how fat, sluggish, and gross I feel. No one can tell that you just ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in 5 seconds flat just by looking at you. Put it behind you, make your next meal a healthy one, drink lots of water, and just get over it. Move on.

Maybe it’s just my recent interest in yoga talking, my nervous anticipation about being ridiculously busy with graduate school beginning this summer, or maybe I’m just having a moment of clarity, but this is what I have always wanted. I have always wanted to forget that food is the enemy and realize that food is power. Food is fuel, but food is not an emotional dam for my anxiety or disappointment. For the next couple of months, I expect to be more aware of my body and its signals. I don’t expect to lose a lot of weight. If I do, that’s great, but I think that the most important makeover that needs to happen for me is in my mind.

I am hoping that by forming a more friendly relationship with food and with my body that the rest will fall into line later. Here’s to hoping.

Accurately Calculating BMR and AMR

I’ve been MIA for a while due to vacation and a crazy tornadic storm that hit my hometown and damaged my roof, but here I am again!

So, I still write a column for our work newsletter every month that’s completely health based. I’ve written about how to eat well when dining out, the best ways to be healthy, and what to eat. This time, I wrote about how to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and how to factor activity and goals into that rate for personal calorie intake each day. Using the most up-to-date formula, I composed an article explaining how to use the formula to customize calorie intake.

Here’s the article below:

“Most government and medical websites provide cookie cutter guidelines for daily caloric intake. As I was beginning to write this article, I googled, “how much should I be eating?” The results were overwhelming, and each automated calculator gave me different answers. However, there is a more accurate way to calculate how much we should be eating each day based on age, weight, height, goals, and activity levels. Learning to calculate your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, will help you find a place to start with controlling portions and food intake. Your BMR is the number of calories it would take to run your body in a completely neutral environment, such as lying in bed all day.  To find your BMR, use this formula:

For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161

Obviously, we cannot stay in bed every day, so we need to take activity into account. To calculate the amount of calories one would need in order to maintain his or her weight taking activity level into consideration, multiply your BMR by one of the following options:

Sedentary (Very little exercise/desk job) 1.2 

Lightly active (Light exercise on 1-3 days a week or 2 hours of walking a day.) 1.375

Moderately active (Moderate exercise/sport on 3-5 days a week or 3 hours of walking a day.) 1.55 

Very active (Hard exercise/sport on 6-7 days a week or 4 hours of walking a day.) 1.725 

Extremely active (Hard daily exercise/sport and physical job including 5 or more hours of walking a day.) 1.9 

This is the amount of calories you would need to maintain your weight while doing that activity. To lose weight, we need a caloric deficit. A pound of fat is worth around 3500 calories, so a 500 calorie deficit each day would yield a one pound loss each week. It’s safest and most sustainable to lose weight slowly, so a deficit of more than 1000 calories a day is not recommended. Keep in mind that this formula does not take into account any lean body mass or body fat percentage, so it’s only an estimation based on the average person of your weight, height, and age. As always, if you need extra help deciding how much to eat, have your doctor refer you to a nutritionist.”  

I get that it’s not optimal to have to convert Imperial measurements of weight and height to metric measurements, but it makes the most sense. We can convert pounds to kilograms and inches to centimeters pretty easily just by typing it into Google. You just type it in and Google provides an automatic calculator. It’s so simple!

TGIF!

Installing a Pacemaker to get rid of your Pacemaker?

It came to my attention that recently the FDA approved a device that is essentially a pacemaker for your stomach and esophagus which sends electrical pulses to interrupt hunger pangs. The device has been tested in real live humans, and the FDA approved it. There are multiple reasons that this device and its approval are completely flabbergasting me and enraging me. The approval of this device was conceived in greed and will exacerbate the laziness and instant gratification mindset of our entire nation. In a place where 3/4 of the population is overweight or obese, this device is a far cry from the solutions needed to make our nation healthy.

The first problem with this device is that it most likely made multiple people affiliated with the FDA a little richer. It’s no secret that the FDA has repeatedly made decisions that do not benefit the public’s health while it does benefit their members’ wallets. Check out Food Inc. and tell me that you don’t think the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries had anything to do with this or the thousand other ways the FDA presumes to treat obesity without attacking the source of the problem: what we eat. Someone was paid well to pass this design and approve its use.

How do I make the assumption that the approval of the device was the product of corporate greed? In an experiment testing the effectiveness of the device, called Maestro, the placebo device performed almost as well as Maestro as far as total body weight lost in 100 patients. NBC news stated, “The FDA wanted the device to be 10 percent better, on average, than a placebo but has approved it anyway.” The experiment was safe enough, but did have many adverse side effects that are usually included in any Pepto Bismol advertisement. Well, yeah, an electrical device that pulses through your stomach and esophagus when you decide you feel hungry… wonder why? Seriously.

Let’s talk about how effective this device would be at sustainably reducing weight in its hosts. NBC wrote that the device would only be available to those who had tried weight loss programs and failed with a BMI of at least 35 to 45 points, but they would also only qualify if they also had an obesity-related health issue like heart disease or diabetes. Okay, cool, we’re narrowing it down, but this device will do jack-diddly-squat for heart disease and diabetes. The device only controls hunger pangs, not the actual kind of food you put in your mouth. If you only eat 500 calories a day but that 500 calories is always a nice greasy burger, you’re still going to have heart disease. Hate to break it to you, but skinny people get heart disease and die of heart attacks too! The device also wouldn’t stop you from eating only 500 calories worth of doughnuts a day and remaining diabetic. One more blow to your lower abdomen: skinny people are diabetic too! This device, this Maestro, only addresses calorie intake and not actual health. It will literally do NOTHING for someone who isn’t consciously making the decision to eat healthier foods.

This device also only intercepts hunger signals, not depression or boredom, so emotional eating and boredom binging are totally still on the table. Not only that, but Maestro is controllable by its host, so you can choose when you’d like to be hungry. Presumably, anyone could develop an eating disorder and use Maestro to reject their basic instincts saying, “hey, feed me before I eat all the necessary visceral fat around your vital organs and send you to the ER!” The device will not address any issues with food addiction or overeating. It will simply allow its hosts to ignore hunger. That is useless.

Needless to say, someone just invested a whole lot of money into something that will be completely obsolete and will cure nothing. Sure, it may help some people lose weight for a while, but it won’t teach them how to make better food choices or how to plan meals for weight loss.

This time, money, and energy would have been better spent by the FDA in trying to figure out how to get their heads out of their asses and their hands out of agriculture and pharmacy’s pockets long enough to figure out that they’re killing us all one dollar at a time.

Gee, thanks.

A Regular Lois Lane

I know I mentioned that I’ve been writing a column for my organization’s e-newsletter, and it has given me a great sense of accomplishment since I started. After the first column, I received a couple of e-mails and personal responses that really boosted my confidence! My department resides in a building apart from the rest of the organization, so sometimes seclusion and involvement are problems for us. We’re the mysterious and faraway crew that obviously get paid to do something but no one is sure what that is.

One such response was this:

“Hi Melody,

Thanks for the encouraging tips and the benefit of your experience. I love it that you shared your talent!

 Susan”

My own supervisor came to me to congratulate me and tell me that she loved my tips. This month, I think I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to address the frightening popularity of low carb, no carb, and no fat diets as a method of losing weight. My column is below:

“On a day-to-day basis, we’re overwhelmed by magazine covers and news stories that tell us we should eat in a specific way. Some claim a low- or no-carb diet is key, while others claim a low-fat diet is paramount to losing weight. All of these headlines overcomplicate the concept of nourishing our bodies. While a low-carb diet, one of the biggest fad diets of all time, will yield short-term results, the realities of eating low-or no-carb are harsh. It’s recommended by nutrition specialists and professionals that 45-60% of our food intake comes from carbs. Why? We fuel our bodies with carbs! We need carbs to think clearly, to regenerate cells (glucose!), and to exercise. Carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen and used as energy when we get moving. Like carbs, fat is also important for our bodies. Some fats improve joint health and fight triglycerides (bad fat). What I’m getting at is a diet with a variety of nutrients and a balanced diet is most effective, so we have the energy to function as happy, healthy humans. There are always some exceptions; some doctors will suggest patients with insulin resistance or diabetes eat low-carb or cycle carbs to regulate blood sugar. Before excluding any of the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, or fat) from your diet, do your research and talk with a doctor. After all, the most important changes that happen while losing weight are happening on the inside.”

My assertion is that losing weight and becoming healthier are not always the same thing. There are several ways to abuse our bodies, even when we think we’re doing the right thing. It’s important to improve our minds by becoming educated about food while also improving our bodies by nourishing them with food. Think! Meditate! Consider!

To happiness and healthiness!

Magic Pills and Fairy Tale Endings

Often, I open my facebook, MyFitnessPal, or gmail account and am greeted with messages from aspiring healthy people asking, “How did you do it?” My goodness, that’s a loaded question. What this person wants to hear is that you went on the all chocolate diet for 3 months and magically dropped 75 lbs or that you started drinking some fantasy protein shake that made you into a super model in just 30 days. Remember how Regina George from Mean Girls gained all the weight eating caltine bars thinking she was on some special diet of calorie-zapping micronutrients? Okay, let’s get real. 

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                           “Is butter a carb?”

 

Supplements, pills, diet fads, and programs can only get a person who aspires to be healthy so far. You can buy all those meal programs, shakes, pills, and powders, but the reality of the situation is that even if you lose 200 lbs with a pill and look a million times better than I do, you won’t have learned the healthy habits that you need to STAY that way. Easy fixes are not sustainable. I can’t count on my fingers and toes the number of times that I told a person I simply started logging my food, walking, and making healthier choices to meet my calorie intake walks away disappointed with no sense of direction for their weight loss journey. 

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I’m sorry, but there is no getting around the fact that I got this way by working hard, learning about nutrition, and sticking it out with motivation and determination. There is no way around the fact that if you take a pill to make you stop wanting to eat for a month, you will most definitely lose weight and put it right back on in no time… and then some! The goal is to make a long-term, sustainable lifestyle for yourself. I don’t have any secrets. I might have some tips for you, but there are definitely no secrets. In fact, nothing I’m writing at this moment in time is any less available to you on any vast and expansive corner of the internet. Do your research! 

The most effective methods of losing weight, feeling better, and becoming more healthy are simply: 

1.) Drink water.

2.) Get sleep.

3.) Get active.

4.) Take it one bite at a time.

5.) Stay motivated.

6.) Find support or an accountabilibuddy.

7.) Love yourself.

If you expect someone else to do it for you, then you’ll never get it done. 

 

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Work hard, play harder, and love yourself!