Put the Resolve Back in Your Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions.  Everybody has them.  Even the cynical “anti-resolutionists” can’t help pondering the usual questions.  “What can I change this year about myself?”  “What goals did I not reach this past year that I want another shot at?”  And for most people, one of those “non-resolution” resolutions has something to do with physical health.  Maybe it’s to eat less, or possibly to exercise more.  Unfortunately, I think most of our physical health resolutions are plagiarized from last year’s list.  Sure we have the best of intentions.  And we often start strong only to burn out well short of December.  I’m sure there are many reasons for this.  Regardless of these excuses, I would like to offer you 5 simple tips for successful health-related resolutions for the coming year:

1: Set multiple short term goals.  Split your year up into segments (quarters, months, weeks) and set goals for each segment.  This is helpful both for when you are knocking it out of the park or haven’t even gotten off the bench.  For those doing well, it is great motivation to keep it up.  For those failing miserably, it is a great time to refocus without feeling like “what’s the point?”.

2: Keep the goals attainable.  Be reasonable here.  No need to correct 30 years of bad habits in 3 months.  I’m by no means against optimism; but even more important to me is success.  I would rather see you set a goal for yourself that is too easy than to fail at one that only a chosen few could possible reach.  Feeling like you are successful breeds a desire to do more, and feeling like you are never going to reach the mark makes you just want to stop trying.

3: Simplify.  Don’t make your goals overly complicated.  Resist the tendency to try to change too many things at once.  Pick one or two things that are easy to assess.  You may need a complete overhaul in your diet, but start with the easiest changes that will make the biggest impact.  Maybe it’s “no more sodas”, or “less fast food”, or “start an “online personal training program“.  Even one minor change over time can make a major difference.

4: Keep track of your progress.  At regular intervals, reassess your progress.  Maybe that’s weighing yourself once a week or keeping a food journal.  Make it specific to the goal, easy to measure, and WRITE IT DOWN.  That way you can see trends as the year progresses.

5: Share the burden.  Find an accountability partner.  A friend, mentor, personal trainer.  Someone you trust who will be honest, yet encouraging.  Not someone who will enable you and make excuses with you, but someone who will be understanding and will gladly share the journey.   Even better would be someone who has a similar goal they are striving towards.  Then you could meet each other’s needs and lift each other up!

While these tips can work for any area of life improvement, they work especially well for health-related goals because those are usually pretty easy to measure.  And while these are by no means a guarantee for success, they will put you on the best path.  But remember, it is still up to you to take the steps.  Happy Travels!

J

5 Nutrition Tips for a Practical Thanksgiving

Those of you that know me well know that I take a very pragmatic approach to my advice, especially in the area of nutrition.  Trust me.  I took the demise of the Twinkie pretty hard.  However, the most notorious overeating day is upon us.  And while I know you want to enjoy all that the dinner table (and kitchen counter, side table, and stove top) has to offer this Thursday, I’m sure that most of you don’t want it to put a complete fork in your nutrition plan (yes, pun totally intended).  So I am here to offer you a few practical ideas to help you, if not keep your nutrition plan on course this Thanksgiving Day, at least keep you from running it aground completely.  If you want 10 ways to cook a fat-free Turkey or a treatise on the overindulgence in our society, look somewhere else.  Here is just some real advice for real people.  Hope it helps.

1:  Skip a Meal.  There is nothing that says you have to stick to your 5 meals-a-day plan on Thanksgiving.  It’s about calories.  Store up the 400 breakfast calories and spend it on Pumpkin Pie for dessert.

2:  Just Say No.  If your Thanksgiving meal is anything like mine, there are about 12 different things to choose from.  Pass on the things that show up on your dinner table other times during the year, and enjoy the items that only come around on Turkey Day.  The dinner rolls won’t take it personally.

3:  A Little Goes a Long Way.  To borrow from a great everyday tip, have what you want, just in smaller amounts.  Give yourself a taste of everything so that you are not feeling like you’re depriving yourself, and avoid feeling like you’re going to explode at the end of the day.

4:  Keep it Clear.  You’ve got 364 other days to partake in all manner of calorie-laden beverages.  Skip the extra calories and just have water.  There are plenty of other taste-bud pleasing options out there.

5:  Hit the Turkey Trot.  A workout first thing in the morning will jumpstart the metabolism for the rest of the day.  Plus, when someone gives you that look as you go in for seconds, you can say “I already worked this one off”.

Feel free to share any of your tips…

Enjoy!

J

The Truth About hCG

Question of the Week:  Finish this sentence:  When the going gets tough, …

Nugget of the Day: The truth about hCG for weight loss.

A client recently asked me what I thought about hCG as a weight loss tool.  For those of you not familiar with hCG, it stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin.  It is a hormone released by the placenta of pregnant women.  (Huh?  Yeah, that’s most people’s response)  Believed to stimulate the consumption of excessive fat tissue in the pregnant mother in support of the growing fetus, it has been hypothesized to assist in metabolism of fat as an energy source in non-pregnant individuals, as well as suppress appetite.  When accompanied by what can only be classified as a “starvation” diet of 500 calories, it is believed to promote significant weight loss.

There are a few issues here to address.  The first is the effectiveness of hCG as a weight loss tool.  As of right now, both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have concluded that hCG is neither safe nor effective as a weight loss aid.  The second is the starvation diet of 500 calories.  Obviously, any diet that absent of calories is going to promote weight loss, at least for a time.  However, not only does it wreak havoc on your metabolism, but it is nearly impossible to adhere to for any length of time.  Since it is not a plan that promotes healthy, long-term eating habits, most people will regain much of the weight, if not all of it when returning to their regular eating plan.  And, third, the FDA has prohibited the sale of over the counter hCG products and homeopathic versions, declaring them illegal and fraudulent.  So if you are going to try to skirt the physician-prescribed route, don’t waste your time or your money.  There isn’t enough real hCG in there to have any metabolic effect at all.

In conclusion, the hCG diet is no more than another “quick fix” scheme that is unproven at best and downright dangerous at worst.  It is simply another “starvation” diet routine that leaves you undernourished and destroys your metabolism, increasing the likelihood of you not only returning to your pre-diet weight, but even getting heavier in the long term.  Don’t be fooled.  There are no quick fixes that beat good, solid hard work and lifestyle change.   Stay the course, keep up the hard work, and don’t give up!

J

Question of the Week #6/ Nugget of the Day #2

Question of the Week #6What role does prayer play, if any, in improving physical fitness?

Nugget of the Day #2Vigorous physical activity burns an average of about 10 Calories per minute.  Obviously this varies depending on the age and weight of the individual, but this is a good ballpark figure to use when estimating the impact of your exercise sessions.  Just remember, shopping at the mall for an hour is not “vigorous exercise”.  If you aren’t breaking a sweat, it isn’t vigorous.  Adding this to the knowledge that 1 pound of body fat contains approximately 3500 Calories, then it would take 350 minutes of vigorous exercise alone to burn 1 pound of body fat if no dietary modifications were made.  This is just under 6 hours of exercise to lose a pound of body fat if you didn’t make any adjustments in your food consumption.  To some this probably sounds like a lot of exercise for only 1 pound.  Two things you need to understand from this:
1: Food control is extremely important when attempting to drop body fat!  Adding a calorie deficit to the extra calories burned can safely double the rate of body fat loss.
2: It takes time!  If you are engaged in both a regular exercise program and a calorie-restricted nutrition plan, a reasonable expectation for body fat loss is 1-2 pounds a week.  Any amount more than that means that you’ve either quit your day job and become an Olympian in training or become a monk and have taken up fasting every day.  If the package or the infomercial says “lose 5 pounds a week”, someone is trying to sell you something!

J

Question of the Week #5/ Nugget of the Day #1

Question of the Week #5:  What is a reasonable time-frame for reaching optimal physical health and fitness?  90 days?  6 months?  1 year?  More?

Nugget of the Day #1:  A pound of body fat contains approximately 3500 Calories of energy.  That means to burn 1 pound of body fat off of your body, you need to expend 3500 more calories than you consume.

I am introducing a new item to the blog called “Nugget of the Day”.  I will include little pieces of information that you can log in the brain and will help you along the way in your journey to optimal physical health.  Enjoy!

J