So, in the tradition of giving, I'm offering you a very special gift: the 7 ways to avoid holiday weight gain. It’s one size fits all, so feast your eyes on this easy-to-follow advice before you feast on that second slice of Aunt Edna’s holiday pie.
1. Keep your eye on the prize…a slimmer you! Mindful snacking is one way to weigh less without stress. Mindless snacking will prevent the weight loss you’re working so hard to accomplish.
2. Host your own party. Cocktail parties are so easy to make healthy. Too many hosts toss together a menu of fried foods, fatty cheeses, greasy chips and snacks, and unlimited nuts.
3. Make the reservations. Social obligations often mean dining out. But if you pick the restaurant, you’re guaranteed to be able to eat healthfully. Choose an establishment that offers a variety of foods so everyone is guaranteed to find something they enjoy. Use these dining out tips to keep it healthy.
4. Choose to lose. Many people feel that if they don’t partake in the holiday feasting tradition, others will perceive them as rude or ungrateful. Hey, it’s your diet, your way. You have the right to eat what you want, where you want and in the amount you want.
5. Just say NO…tactfully! You can say to your host, "Oh, I’m sorry. My plan doesn’t include (name the food) but, I surely thank you!" Or, "Oh, thank you so much, I’m sure it’s wonderful! I’m too full right now, but thanks for asking!" Firmly exercise your right of refusal, but be sure to graciously thank your host for offering.
6. Prepare for a party and take the edge off your appetite. Eat a small, healthy snack before the party. A half-sandwich of turkey in a lettuce leaf stuffed with sprouts and tomatoes will fuel you nicely. Then, at the party, you can pick and choose wisely without being driven by hunger.
7. Get support. Sometimes you just need to talk to a friend or buddy, and get some support and motivation to resist the holiday temptations. Post on the message boards, call a friend, or bring along your diet buddy for emotional support!
Here's to a healthy holiday season!
© adapted from The Spark People: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=978&page=2
Roasted salmon and vegetables gently seasoned with coconut aminos, garlic and green onion is a delicious, nutritious meal that’s on the table in thirty minutes flat. The salmon will be moist and tender, the beans and bell peppers crisp and fresh and the mushrooms soaked with the sweet-salty umami flavor of coconut aminos.
What makes this meal so quick and easy is that everything’s seasoned the same, goes in the oven at the same time and comes out of the oven at the same time, too.
Buying individual salmon fillets of the same weight and thickness makes it easy to gauge when the salmon is perfectly cooked. For a 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick fillet, this means 10 to 12 minutes. That’s just enough time to set the table. It’s also just enough time to cook crisp-tender veggies that haven’t lost their fresh flavor or vibrant color.
Make this meal again and again, using a new combination of vegetables each time. Bok choy, thinly sliced cabbage, carrots and zucchini are all delicious options.
Serves: 4 / Time in the Kitchen: 30 minutes
The Freedom Day in Maintenance
. . . which was once required on Maintenance was designed to give you pleasure once a week so that you would not feel as though you were being denied your favorite foods as a "once a week Pleasure Day on the Maintenance Program.
But that may not work for you.
And if it doesn't, you have the option to keep with your regular Maintenance Schedule. Of course, you can still enjoy that Special Occasion without restriction as long as you go onto a strict Phase 1 the following day to prevent weight and fat gain.
Melanie Rogers, RD, a nutritionist and eating disorder specialist says, "We can thank our biology for cheat days turning into these all-out food fests. We’re wired to chase down food when we’re caught in the feast-and-famine cycle. “People will eat beyond satiety when they’re coming from a fear of scarcity,”
Binging on a cheat day also makes it challenging to confine cheat-day foods only to that designated 24-hour window. “It’s very hard for people to compartmentalize their diets,” Rogers says. “‘I’m only going to have those cookies on Saturday’ can easily spill over into ‘I’ll only have a few cookies Sunday too.'”
EAT / FOOD FOR THOUGHT / WEIGHT LOSS / APRIL 19, 2015
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Did you know that weight is not necessarily the best measure of your overall health or risk for obesity and weight-related health issues?
While weight can be an important factor in determining whether or not you are healthy, using weight alone, even when combined with knowledge of your gender, height, et cetera, is not advisable. For instance, did you know that muscle weighs more than fat? So, if you started lifting weights and turning fat into muscle, you'd likely start to weigh more than you did before, at least for a time, even as you were getting healthier! That's why measurements such as BMI (Body Mass Index), which rely solely on standardized height and weight ratios, can't accurately assess your current health status or risk. There are simply too many variables that are unique to each individual to use such one-size-fits-all approaches to determining your true health status and successfully managing its improvement over time.
We believe the best method to get an accurate picture of your health status and risk, and to indicate whether or not you need to take action to get healthier, is to measure your ratio of lean muscle mass to fat (as well as your hydration levels), or your individual body composition.
By capturing highly-accurate physiological readings such as body composition with Stayhealthy tools, and combining these readings with some basic demographic information specific to you, Stayhealthy can obtain a clear picture of your unique health situation, allowing us to create a personalized plan to help you get healthier.
And why is measuring hydration important? Seventy-five percent of us are dehydrated, and being dehydrated can impair your ability to lose weight and build lean muscle mass. Monitoring your hydration levels on a consistent basis with the Stayhealthy Body Composition Analyzer can assist in making sure you're properly hydrated and your body is optimally tuned for burning calories, losing weight, and increasing lean muscle mass. In addition to being critical to your body's overall well-being, proper hydration also provides additional cosmetic benefits such as improving your complexion and skin tone.
Your weight is only one factor to measure as you try to get healthy, and it's not the most important. To truly understand your health go deeper. Understand what that weight is made of. You may actually be healthier than you think!
What Is Included in the BCA Measurement?
The readings will give you three categories: Hydration, Body Fat Percentage, and Muscle Mass. However, body composition measures the different tissues of the body including muscle, fat, bone, nervous tissue, tendons, including water.
I would imagine that many of you have never even heard of chia seeds much less eaten them. Chia seeds are small, oval shaped; either black or white colored and resemble sesame seeds. They are native to southern Mexico and northern Guatemala and were cultivated as a food crop for thousands of years in this region by the Aztecs and other native cultures. Chia seeds can be consumed in a variety of ways including roasting and grinding the seeds into a flour known as Chianpinolli which can then be made into tortillas, tamales, and beverages. The roasted ground seeds are traditionally consumed as gruel called Pinole.
In the past 20 years chia seeds have become an increasingly popular item in co-ops and health food stores primarily because of their high content of the healthful omega 3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Chia seeds have also been fed to domestic livestock and chickens to enrich their meat and eggs with omega 3 fats. I can endorse feeding chia seeds to animals, but have serious reservations when it comes to humans eating these seeds as staple foods. The table below shows the entire nutrient profile for a 100 gram serving of chia seeds.
At least on paper, it would appear that chia seeds are a nutritious food that is not only high in ALA, but also is a good source of protein, fiber, certain B vitamins, calcium, iron, manganese and zinc.
Unfortunately, in the game of human nutrition, the devil is almost always in the details. As is the case with many other plant seeds (e.g., cereal grains, legumes) chia seeds contain numerous antinutrients which reduce their nutritional value. If you look at the table above, notice the high phosphorous concentrations found in chia seeds. This revealing marker tells us that chia seeds are concentrated sources of phytate, an antinutrient that binds many minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper) thereby making them unavailable for absorption. So, in our bodies, chia seeds actually become inferior sources of all these minerals. Similarly, the table suggests that chia seeds are good sources of vitamin B6. Unfortunately, in our bodies the utilization this vitamin from plant foods such as chia seeds is quite low, whereas bioavailability of B6 from animal products is quite high approaching 100%.
One of the unusual characteristics of chia seed Pinole or food products comes from a clear mucilaginous gel that surrounds the seeds. This sticky gel forms a barrier which impairs digestion, fat absorption and causes a low protein digestibility. Based upon animal and human studies, it is likely that other antinutrients together with this gel may promote a leaky gut, chronic systemic inflammation and food allergies.
Dr. Nieman and co-workers recently completed a study in humans who consumed 50 grams of chia seeds per day for 12 weeks. At the experiment’s end both men and women experienced increases in a blood inflammatory marker called interleukin 6 (IL-6). After 12 weeks the men’s blood levels of IL-6 increased 10.2 %, and the women’s increased 10.1%. Additionally, another inflammatory marker called monocyte chemotactic protein increased 6.9 % in the men and 6.1 % in the women. In support of the notion that chia seed consumption may adversely affect the immune system and promote inflammation is a rat study showing that after only one month high chia seed diets increased blood levels of IgE by 112.8 %. Because IgE is a marker for allergenic food proteins that are processed through the gut, chia seeds likely cause a leaky gut and food allergies. As you can see, the nutritional problems with chia seeds involve similar issues as with cereals grains – they simply are second-rate foods compared to meats, fish and fresh fruits and vegetables.
© Loren Cordain, Ph.D., http://thepaleodiet.com/seed-fatty-acid-composition/#.Vi0c17RViko
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BAD HABITS ARE WHY YOU GAINED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!
The Habit Change Cheatsheet: 29 Ways to Successfully Ingrain a Behavior
BY LEO BABAUTA
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
Our daily lives are often a series of habits played out through the day, a trammeled existence fettered by the slow accretion of our previous actions.
But habits can be changed, as difficult as that may seem sometimes.
I’m a living example: in tiny, almost infinitesimal steps, I’ve changed a laundry list of habits. Quit smoking, stopped impulse spending, got out of debt, began running and waking early and eating healthier and becoming frugal and simplifying my life and becoming organized and focused and productive, ran three marathons and a couple of triathlons, started a few successful blogs, eliminated my debt … you get the picture.
And while I’ve written about habit change many times over the course of the life of Zen Habits, today I thought I’d put the best tips all together in one cheatsheet, for those new to the blog and for those who could use the reminders.
Keep it simple
Habit change is not that complicated. While the tips below will seem overwhelming, there’s really only a few things you need to know. Everything else is just helping these to become reality.
The simple steps of habit change:
1. Write down your plan.
2. Identify your triggers and replacement habits.
3. Focus on doing the replacement habits every single time the triggers happen, for about 30 days.
That’s it. We’ll talk more about each of these steps, and much more, in the cheatsheet below.
The Habit Change Cheatsheet
The following is a compilation of tips to help you change a habit. Don’t be overwhelmed — always remember the simple steps above. The rest are different ways to help you become more successful in your habit change.
1. Do just one habit at a time. Extremely important. Habit change is difficult, even with just one habit. If you do more than one habit at a time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Keep it simple, allow yourself to focus, and give yourself the best chance for success. Btw, this is why New Year’s resolutions often fail — people try to tackle more than one change at a time.
2. Start small. The smaller the better, because habit change is difficult, and trying to take on too much is a recipe for disaster. Want to exercise? Start with just 5-10 minutes. Want to wake up earlier? Try just 10 minutes earlier for now. Or consider half habits.
3. Do a 30-day Challenge. In my experience, it takes about 30 days to change a habit, if you’re focused and consistent. This is a round number and will vary from person to person and habit to habit. Often you’ll read a magical “21 days” to change a habit, but this is a myth with no evidence. Seriously — try to find the evidence from a scientific study for this. A more recent study shows that 66 days is a better number. But 30 days is a good number to get you started. Your challenge: stick with a habit every day for 30 days, and post your daily progress updates to a forum.
4. Write it down. Just saying you’re going to change the habit is not enough of a commitment. You need to actually write it down, on paper. Write what habit you’re going to change.
5. Make a plan. While you’re writing, also write down a plan. This will ensure you’re really prepared. The plan should include your reasons (motivations) for changing, obstacles, triggers, support buddies, and other ways you’re going to make this a success. More on each of these below.
6. Know your motivations, and be sure they’re strong. Write them down in your plan. You have to be very clear why you’re doing this, and the benefits of doing it need to be clear in your head. If you’re just doing it for vanity, while that can be a good motivator, it’s not usually enough. We need something stronger. For me, I quit smoking for my wife and kids. I made a promise to them. I knew if I didn’t smoke, not only would they be without a husband and father, but they’d be more likely to smoke themselves (my wife was a smoker and quit with me).
7. Don’t start right away. In your plan, write down a start date. Maybe a week or two from the date you start writing out the plan. When you start right away (like today), you are not giving the plan the seriousness it deserves. When you have a “Quit Date” or “Start Date”, it gives that date an air of significance. Tell everyone about your quit date (or start date). Put it up on your wall or computer desktop. Make this a Big Day. It builds up anticipation and excitement, and helps you to prepare.
8. Write down all your obstacles. If you’ve tried this habit change before (odds are you have), you’ve likely failed. Reflect on those failures, and figure out what stopped you from succeeding. Write down every obstacle that’s happened to you, and others that are likely to happen. Then write down how you plan to overcome them. That’s the key: write down your solution before the obstacles arrive, so you’re prepared.
9. Identify your triggers. What situations trigger your current habit? For the smoking habit, for example, triggers might include waking in the morning, having coffee, drinking alcohol, stressful meetings, going out with friends, driving, etc. Most habits have multiple triggers. Identify all of them and write them in your plan.
10. For every single trigger, identify a positive habit you’re going to do instead. When you first wake in the morning, instead of smoking, what will you do? What about when you get stressed? When you go out with friends? Some positive habits could include: exercise, meditation, deep breathing, organizing, decluttering, and more.
“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” – Mark Twain
11. Plan a support system. Who will you turn to when you have a strong urge? Write these people into your plan. Support forums online are a great tool as well — I used a smoking cessation forum on about.com when I quit smoking, and it really helped. Don’t underestimate the power of support — it’s really important.
12. Ask for help. Get your family and friends and co-workers to support you. Ask them for their help, and let them know how important this is. Find an AA group in your area. Join online forums where people are trying to quit. When you have really strong urges or a really difficult time, call on your support network for help. Don’t smoke a cigarette, for example, without posting to your online quit forum. Don’t have a drop of alcohol before calling your AA buddy.
13. Become aware of self-talk. You talk to yourself, in your head, all the time — but often we’re not aware of these thoughts. Start listening. These thoughts can derail any habit change, any goal. Often they’re negative: “I can’t do this. This is too difficult. Why am I putting myself through this? How bad is this for me anyway? I’m not strong enough. I don’t have enough discipline. I suck.” It’s important to know you’re doing this.
14. Stay positive. You will have negative thoughts — the important thing is to realize when you’re having them, and push them out of your head. Squash them like a bug! Then replace them with a positive thought. “I can do this! If Leo can do it, so can I!” :)
15. Have strategies to defeat the urge. Urges are going to come — they’re inevitable, and they’re strong. But they’re also temporary, and beatable. Urges usually last about a minute or two, and they come in waves of varying strength. You just need to ride out the wave, and the urge will go away. Some strategies for making it through the urge: deep breathing, self-massage, take a walk, drink a glass of water, call a support buddy, post on a support forum.
16. Prepare for the sabotagers. There will always be people who are negative, who try to get you to do your old habit. Be ready for them. Confront them, and be direct: you don’t need them to try to sabotage you, you need their support, and if they can’t support you then you don’t want to be around them.
17. Talk to yourself. Be your own cheerleader, give yourself pep talks, repeat your mantra (below), and don’t be afraid to seem crazy to others. We’ll see who’s crazy when you’ve changed your habit and they’re still lazy, unhealthy slobs!
18. Have a mantra. For quitting smoking, mine was “Not One Puff Ever” (I didn’t make this up, but it worked — more on this below). When I wanted to quit my day job, it was “Liberate Yourself”. This is just a way to remind yourself of what you’re trying to do.
19. Use visualization. This is powerful. Vividly picture, in your head, successfully changing your habit. Visualize doing your new habit after each trigger, overcoming urges, and what it will look like when you’re done. This seems new-agey, but it really works.
20. Have rewards. Regular ones. You might see these as bribes, but actually they’re just positive feedback. Put these into your plan, along with the milestones at which you’ll receive them.
21. Take it one urge at a time. Often we’re told to take it one day at a time — which is good advice — but really it’s one urge at a time. Just make it through this urge.
22. Not One Puff Ever (in other words, no exceptions). This seems harsh, but it’s a necessity: when you’re trying to break the bonds between an old habit and a trigger, and form a new bond between the trigger and a new habit, you need to be really consistent. You can’t do it sometimes, or there will be no new bond, or at least it will take a really really long time to form. So, at least for the first 30 days (and preferably 60), you need to have no exceptions. Each time a trigger happens, you need to do the new habit and not the old one. No exceptions, or you’ll have a backslide. If you do mess up, regroup, learn from your mistake, plan for your success, and try again (see the last item on this list).
23. Get rest. Being tired leaves us vulnerable to relapse. Get a lot of rest so you can have the energy to overcome urges.
24. Drink lots of water. Similar to the item above, being dehydrated leaves us open to failure. Stay hydrated!
25. Renew your commitment often. Remind yourself of your commitment hourly, and at the beginning and end of each day. Read your plan. Celebrate your success. Prepare yourself for obstacles and urges.
26. Set up public accountability. Blog about it, post on a forum, email your commitment and daily progress to friend and family, post a chart up at your office, write a column for your local newspaper (I did this when I ran my first marathon). When we make it public — not just the commitment but the progress updates — we don’t want to fail.
27. Engineer it so it’s hard to fail. Create a groove that’s harder to get out of than to stay in: increase positive feedback for sticking with the habit, and increase negative feedback for not doing the habit. Read more on this method.
28. Avoid some situations where you normally do your old habit, at least for awhile, to make it a bit easier on yourself. If you normally drink when you go out with friends, consider not going out for a little while. If you normally go outside your office with co-workers to smoke, avoid going out with them. This applies to any bad habit — whether it be eating junk food or doing drugs, there are some situations you can avoid that are especially difficult for someone trying to change a bad habit. Realize, though, that when you go back to those situations, you will still get the old urges, and when that happens you should be prepared.
29. If you fail, figure out what went wrong, plan for it, and try again. Don’t let failure and guilt stop you. They’re just obstacles, but they can be overcome. In fact, if you learn from each failure, they become stepping stones to your success. Regroup. Let go of guilt. Learn. Plan. And get back on that horse.
Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones. – Benjamin Franklin
Ruth Siegel / Owner & Coach