by Shira Adatto
The weather is getting hotter… are you? I used to dread summer, and not because of the warm weather. Just the thought of having to get into a bathing suit made me cringe. It wasn’t until one summer when I looked at a photo of myself and realized the not-so-slim woman in the picture was myself that I finally got tired of being uncomfortable in my own skin. At that moment, it really clicked for me. As painful as it was, that photo made me realize that I needed to make a change and it was that mental shift that got me started down the path of getting fit and getting myself to a weight that I could feel good about. The fact of the matter is, any big change in life always starts with a decision to do so. Until you make that commitment to do something, nothing will change. And if you don’t have a big enough reason driving you to make that change, you won’t be able to stick to a plan of action. For me, seeing myself in that photo was my “why”. I was so tired of hating the way I looked in pictures. Letting years go by where I hid from the camera while precious family memories were being created was not an option.
Knowing what I wanted to accomplish, I decided to set a small achievable goal, to give myself something attainable, and not something that was going to feel too big or too overwhelming. So while I wanted to lose 30 lbs., I set a goal to lose 10. Why? Because how you start determines how you finish. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, no matter what your ultimate goal is, the first 10 lbs. are going to be the most crucial and will set the rhythm for the rest of the journey. There is even research that suggests the odds of someone achieving their overall weight loss goal increases dramatically with whether or not they are able to lose the first 10 lbs.
Losing that initial 10 lbs. will also carry with it some remarkable benefits. You will look better, you will most certainly feel better, your friends will start to notice and you will gain more confidence. A 10 lb. difference can even do wonders for your overall health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, improve your mood and self-esteem. It can even increase your brain power.
Scientifically, the first 10 lbs. will probably also be the ones you lose the fastest. Your body will react differently to a brand new change in your eating habits and will burn fat easier, faster and more efficiently. But the real key is that losing 10 lbs. is where old habits are broken and new habits are created. If you want to be a healthy, fit person, you have to create the habits of a healthy fit person. It doesn’t just happen with a mental shift.
So for those of you who are committed to Going for 10, here are my top tips for helping you do so:
Start the day right.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Those who skip breakfast tend to snack more and overindulge later on. A breakfast that is high in protein will give your metabolism a boost and reduce afternoon crashes. Protein smoothies are my breakfast of choice.
Get more Zzz ’s.
Research shows that people who get insufficient sleep tend to eat more and crave more carbs. As moms it’s tough to always get in enough sleep. So aim to be in bed by 10 pm.
Drink enough water.
Most people think that water while dieting is just to keep them full but in fact, dehydration can slow down your metabolism. In addition, most people confuse thirst for hunger.
Whenever possible, eat whole fresh foods and stay away from highly processed empty calories. Put 10% less food on your plate. Little tricks like simply using a smaller plate can help you keep portions under control.
Exercise 10 extra minutes a day .
If you already exercise, extending your daily routine by just 10 minutes can help you through a plateau or kickstart your metabolism. If you don’t exercise at all, start by adding a 10-minute walk daily. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Use mobile apps to track calories.
Studies show that people who track their calories have much better results and don’t mindlessly snack throughout the day.
Don’t go it alone.
Increase your fiber.
Since fiber increases feelings of fullness, adding 10g of fiber a week can decrease overall calorie intake and help you lose weight.
Know your “Why” and remind yourself of it each day.
What are the reasons driving you to make this change? Do you want to have more energy? Live a long healthy life and be around for your kids? Avoid a life of sickness? Tired of hating the way you look, the way you feel in clothes, cringing at the site of yourself in pictures? You have to tap into the emotional reasons of WHY you want to make this change so that you stay committed to your goal.
Lastly, believe in yourself.
Believe that you can do this and you will. Do not sabotage yourself with self-doubt. We are all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for. Visualize yourself succeeding, overcoming obstacles, have the belief that you can do this and you can.
Moms wear many hats. They are not only moms, but wives, entrepreneurs, they play doctor, taxi driver, math tutor, they cook and clean. Moms basically run the show, making sure their families are well taken care of. But how often do they have time for themselves?
I work with a lot of moms, and it’s the same story: “I know I shouldn’t eat the chocolate, but I just can’t help myself. I see it and I have to have it. I just can’t stop.” One of the biggest struggles I see is that most women (moms especially), just can’t seem to curb the sweet tooth. It comforts them. It fills them up. Then they come to me full of frustration, wondering why they just can’t get it together and improve their diet. When I dig a little deeper, I discover that the problem rarely has anything to do with food. These women are burnt out! They run themselves ragged and have no balance in their lives. Food is the little pleasure they get out of their day, and often the one thing they feel they can control in the mass chaos that is their day. Once I bring this to light, we can start peeling back the onion, layer by layer, and try to figure out how to get things back on track. What can provide comfort instead of food? Why does she need comfort in the first place? What’s missing that food is trying to fill? What these moms really need is a little more balance!
Don’t you just love that word— balance? What does that even mean anyway? Can you really achieve balance? What balance really does is keep you sane and feeling on track. What allows you to take a pause and just breathe. When you are out of balance, it means that most of your focus is on one area of your life, but not enough on another. Being out of balance can effect so many different areas of your life: your health, your finances, the quality of your relationships, and your mental well being. Because I’m so so concerned about my client’s health, and because I find that tends to be the first to go when you’re out of balance, I decided to interview my friend who I think lives a very balanced life. She’s one of the busiest moms I know, yet she is also one of the healthiest.
Patricia is a wife. She’s a mother of 3 kids under 5. She’s involved in her kids’ school, after school activities, birthday parties on the weekends, etc. Oh, and she works full time. Patricia is thin, fit and healthy. After picking her brain for a bit, here are some pearls of wisdom on how she manages to find balance and stay healthy. (I have included my thoughts on how you do this):
Anything is ok in moderation.
Don’t deprive yourself of anything, just enjoy it in small doses. If you absolutely must have a slice of cake at your son’s birthday party, take a tiny slice and enjoy every bite of it.
Staying active not only helps keep your body in shape, it provides mental relaxation as well. Working out is time away from the distractions of your kids, husband, work (i.e.. your life) and allows you time for you. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, that’s better than nothing. Plus, you can’t beat those feel good endorphins.
When opting for a snack like chips or crackers, take one handful, close up the bag, and leave the room. Don’t bring the bag with you and mindlessly eat handful after handful until you finish the bag. This is particularly important for those who tend to stress eat!
Take a nap.
When feeling overwhelmed, take a time out. Lay down or sit still for 5, 10, 15 minutes and just relax. It may seem like there’s no time to slow down, even for 5 minutes, but I promise taking that 5 minutes now will pay off and actually save you time in the long run.
Make balanced choices.
Pick and choose things that you can and will avoid. For example, make it a principle not to eat fast food. Or if you know you’re going to want dessert with dinner, order a salad or something on the lighter side. When eating out, try to eat out only once or twice a week. Pack meals and healthy snacks to take on the road which can help you avoid temptation.
Stay sane by taking care of yourself.
Take some “me” time when you need it. Ask for help with the kids, but make yourself a priority. Find moments throughout the day or set aside time for a manicure or lunch with a girlfriend. Moms tend to be excellent at managing a schedule, so make sure that “me” time gets in there.
What are some ways that you can achieve some balance in your life as it pertains to your health? Do you see areas where you can improve? Can you try to incorporate one or two of Patricia’s tips into your week?
As I mentioned earlier, when trying to be healthy, lose weight or just simply improve your diet, sometimes diet actually has very little to do with it. If we can clean up other areas of your life, everything else seems to fall into place. Diet is actually the easy part. So look at where things are a little off balance. Maybe you eat right, but don’t exercise. Or maybe you give so much time to others, but you don’t have time for yourself. Start small. Look at a couple of areas where maybe you need more balance, make a few small changes, and suddenly, you’ll develop a momentum.
Need help? Head over to www.JamieLeffNutrition.com, take our assessment and set up a complimentary consultation to see where you could use a little improvement.
Cookies and chocolate and pie – oh my! Eggnog, champagne and wine – divine! The holiday season is officially here! There is excitement, stress, and for most of us, lots and lots of eating. Many of you are traveling, or have at least departed from any sense of normal. As the majority of us know only too well, any attempt at healthy eating goes sailing out of the window during the holiday season. We tend to conveniently forget about our health and diet, and instead, take the opportunity to over-indulge in every way possible.
According to a recent Weight Watchers report, the average American gains around 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This is through pure over-indulgence and gluttony. Lack of time to exercise probably doesn’t help either. Moreover, much of this weight is maintained from thereon despite our promises to go on a diet as soon as we ring in the New Year (as we shovel another brownie in our mouths).
It is not hard to understand why people fall into such bad habits during the holiday season. Everywhere you go there is somebody waiting to thrust a glass of wine or a box of chocolates in front of you. Surely it would be rude to refuse. Trips to the supermarket also turn into a tantalizing adventure of temptation as you find yourself in a maze of aisles displaying a range of colorful, tempting goodies that are excitingly packaged and screaming at you to buy them and eat them. All this, coupled with the huge dinners, parties, and festivities that make maintaining control a huge challenge. For the better part of the year, many of us make healthy eating a habit. Yet, as soon as Thanksgiving rears its over-indulgent head, the obsession swings the other way as we indulge in eating as much unhealthy, rich food as possible.
Despite all this, with a little good planning, it is possible to avoid being part of that swelling statistic and maybe even still fit into that little black dress you were hoping to wear to the holiday parties.
Don’t try to diet during the holidays. Just maintaining your weight during this time of year can go a long way.
Limit the liquid calories:
Soda, eggnog and cocktails can pack amazing quantities of calories, most of them devoid of nutrition. If you limit the holiday treat to foods, you will easily cut down on sugar and calories. Meanwhile, load up on water, tea, and other calorie-free drinks to keep well hydrated and feel fuller.
This is an obvious one, I know, but it is also obviously simple to blow off during holiday season. It comes down to being committed. You have to commit in your mind that exercise will be a priority. Plan it and put it in the schedule. You might not always be able to do your normal workout routine, but if you at least walk or do some strength moves at home daily, take stairs rather than elevators, dance to holiday music, play outside with the kids, it will help release stress, improve immunity, minimize and maybe even eliminate weight gain.
Tame your appetite before the party:
One of the worst things you can do is to starve yourself the day of a party to bank calories. Not eating can severely mess with your metabolism (as in, slow it down) and your hunger will likely send you straight to the buffet line to overindulge. Instead, eat a high protein snack like a handful of nuts, a few rolls of turkey, a spoonful of tuna or some low fat cheese. You should also drink a full glass of water before every meal to stay hydrated. Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger and can cause snack attacks. At the party, load up on veggies and high protein dishes. Limit the carbs and greasy fare to a minimum.
Use healthy substitutes for holiday fare. Instead of whole milk products, use low fat or non-fat variations. For example, use plain nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to make your favorite holiday dips and consider other healthy dips like salsa and hummus.
Limit holiday splurges:
Write all the holiday parties and gatherings in your calendar and then commit to limiting splurges to those special events. Your greatest source of extra calories is probably from the daily intake of cookies and other goodies that seem to pop up everywhere this time of year. If we give ourselves license to go off program the entire month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the results could take months to undo. It takes far more effort to lose a pound than it does to gain one. Unfortunately, it only takes one big meal to send the scale soaring for most of us. In between holiday splurges, fill in all the other days with regular healthy meals and careful planning.
Dining in a group causes the average person to eat almost double than he or she normally would eating alone. Keep a mental checklist of how much you’re consuming and if you feel yourself accepting every passed appetizer, it’s your eyes telling you that you need more food, not your brain. Take a second to look at every bite before you eat it — maybe even take a deep breath to slow yourself down at the buffet table.
Food and festivity will always be a major part of the holiday season – and there is certainly nothing wrong in that. However, the holiday season is also a stressful time for many of us, and we need plenty of energy and stamina to cope with it. It is therefore essential that we eat the right type of food with the necessary nutrients to give us energy and reduce stress levels. This is not to say that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to indulge a little, enjoy a healthy glass of red wine, but we should eat in moderation and maintain a varied diet. Imagine starting the new year feeling your best and getting back on the path to a healthier you rather than having to begin the race again ten pounds behind the start line.