Friday, September 23, 2016

My Favorite Food Blogs

Research makes it clear that what you eat makes a difference in your health. But finding healthy recipes can be overwhelming. I love a good food blog, I read food blogs like most people read novels. But deciphering nutrition fact from fiction while scrolling through personal anecdotes from expert-backed advice is no easy task. That's why I'm sharing some of the most helpful, beautiful, next-level blogs that I visit on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 

First up is Naturally Ella. After her father had a heart attack, Erin Alderson (whose initials are ELLA) broke up with fast food and all processed meat. Her blog features seasonal vegetarian recipes that are pantry-inspired. I've made many of her recipes and haven't had a bad meal, yet. Despite ditching Big Macs, Alderson doesn't believe in being obsessive or counting calories; her philosophy is simply to exercise and eat well. Given the results - the beautifully photographed whole foods that I want to gobble up - it's easy to see why her approach works. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. 

Next up, Sprouted Kitchen. This blog resembles the pages of a glossy food magazine with a fleet of stylists making sure every bite looks impossibly scrumptious. But behind the scenes there's just one couple, Sara and Hugh Forte. She cooks and blogs, he photographs. They've elevated sandwiches, noodles and green salads to epic proportions. I'll be honest, I haven't made a lot of their recipes, but I love looking pursuing their blog. 

The Almond Eater is all about healthy recipes in 30 minutes or less. My kind of recipe blog. Erin, the blogger, writes recipes and stays healthy by listening to her body. Though, she admits she does try to keep things on the healthier side because if she always listened to her body, she'd "probably turn into a giant piece of cake." Amen, sister. I made these almond butter protein bars for my son this week and he loved them. As did I.

I've just recently become a fan of Well Plated. The name of this blogger is also Erin. What up with all the Erin bloggers?? This Erin is dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. And from the recipes I've tried...she does just that. I especially enjoy her slow cooker options and her healthy savory dishes. 

I started following kath eats real food years ago when the blogger, Kath, lived in Charlotte. She now lives in Charlottesville where she became a Registered Dietitian. I am a big fan of oatmeal and Kath's oatmeal recipes initially drew me to her blog. I've learned a lot from her nutrition posts, as well.

Pinch of Yum is one of my tried and true blogs. I have tried many of her recipes; Lindsay (not Erin) cooks things that are practical, interesting and delicious. She is a big fan of curry (as am I), lentils (as am I) and pasta (as am I). Lindsay and I could be fast friends.

Two Peas & Their Pod is another of my recipe-go-to blogs. The husband and wife duo, Maria and Josh, not only share recipes, they share a weekly meal plan so no complaining about dinner ideas...they've got you covered for the week.

Of course, when I find a recipe that I want to make healthier...Jacy is my go-to resource. She can take any recipe and make it better. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

I'm Not a Fan of the Word Diet

I'm not a fan of the word diet - diet in the sense of restricting what one eats in order to lose weight. The problem with dieting is after we lose weight, most of us go back to our old eating habits. So, dieting sets most people up for failure. Making a lifestyle change is different. But making a lifestyle change is also admittedly overwhelming. The idea of completely changing the way we eat and exercise seems like a helluva lot of work. That's why most people go with the easier option of a diet, even though for the most part, diets are unsuccessful.

Changing to a healthy lifestyle is hard, but it's a battle worth fighting. It starts with baby steps. Change one meal a week to include a few extra veggies. Go for a walk after dinner instead of dessert. Skip  the overly processed snacks. And take time to educate yourself - or have Jacy Shaffer do the educating. I can't stress how much I've learned from Jacy. Knowledge is a powerful friend and food doesn't have to be the enemy. It's okay to struggle, it's not ok to give up.

Make a plan that will stick, start small, change one behavior at a time, and get support. You have the power to change, sometimes it's just hard to remember that fact. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Numbers that Really Matter

If you read the email that I sent about Fitbits, then you'd know that I'm not especially number driven when it comes to health and fitness. In the email, I mentioned that I'm happier not knowing exactly how many steps I've taken in a day. I do better when I listen to my body because it tells me when I'm doing too much activity and when I'm not doing enough. Same goes with my scale; I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't enjoy seeing the number getting smaller, but I get far more satisfaction from the way my clothes fit and how much better I feel overall.

But I received some numbers this week that not only brought a smile to my face, they really and truly inspired me. Since I started the Challenge 9 weeks ago, my cholesterol has gone down 20 points. My HDL, which is the good cholesterol (you want more HDL) went up 4 points and my LDL, which is the bad cholesterol (you want less LDL) went down 17 points. My triglycerides are also down considerably since the start of the Challenge. I knew that I was eating better, but these numbers have confirmed that I am healthier.

I don't need a Fitbit to tell me that I've walked enough because I can feel it in my legs. And I don't need a scale to tell me that I've lost weight because I can feel it in my clothes. But I do need a blood test to tell me my levels because high cholesterol doesn't typically have any symptoms. In most cases, it only causes emergency events like a heart attack or a stroke.

These number are important and I will continue to monitor and try to improve them. Heck, if the Fitbit could measure my cholesterol, I might start wearing it again. Until that happens, I will continue to follow Jacy's suggestions and recipes and will visit my doctor to monitor my cholesterol. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Common Sense Approach

I was chatting with a member who told me that she wants to take the Just 10 Challenge, but she's just not ready to give up certain foods. I told her that she was in luck, because the Challenge is not about giving up food.

The Challenge is about normal, healthy eating. It's about giving some thought to your food selection so that you get nutritious food, but not being wary or overly restrictive so that you miss out on enjoying food. It's about balance: normal, healthy eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important part of your life. And normal, healthy eating is flexible; it varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, and your proximity to food.

When it comes to weight loss, there are a lot of lies, distortions, unscientific thinking, and shameless contortions of logic out there. But Jacy Shaffer, our Registered Dietitian, takes a common sense approach to helping you lose weight based on sound science. No cleanses, no eliminating certain food groups, no counting calories or points; it's simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy.

The Just 10 Challenge is client driven, as is Jacy's overall approach to nutrition coaching. She does a lot of listening and learns about your behaviors and habits and then meets you there. She understands that change is hard and that most people resist it. Heck, she knew going into this thing that a lot of my family's traditions revolved around food. And yet, she never once told me to avoid certain foods, in fact, she encouraged me to enjoy every bite. But, she also helped me devise a plan and equipped me with tools to stay in control and suggested ways of incorporating an "activity element" (that was her sweet way of telling me to get off my butt) to counteract the time I spent sitting around the table at family gatherings.

Over the past weeks, Jacy has only shared recipes with ingredients that she knew I liked and would help lower my cholesterol. She didn't suggest eggs for breakfast because she knew they weren't a viable option considering that I eat at my desk every morning. When I told Jacy that I liked to bring salads for lunch, she suggested adding farro as a healthy whole grain addition. OMG, life changing. Not only is faro delicious, it's a great source of fiber and protein. I love the crunch it adds to salads. Check out Trader Joe's 10 Minute Farro. Ten minutes and voila.

Having a plan is more than half the battle. Finding recipes that are both delicious and nutritious is the goal. So, let me share some of my favorite recipes:

I am a fan of one pot meals. I've never met a soup or salad that I didn't love. Check out Pinch of Yum's bowls. I highly recommend all of their recipes...delish, delosh. When I'm not perusing Pinch of Yum....

Two Peas & Their Pod is my go-to website. I made this Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas for dinner the other night and could have eaten the whole thing by myself. I was looking forward to leftovers, but my family enjoyed it as much as I, so, yeah, unfortunately, no leftovers.

Cookie and Kate is another of my bookmarked food websites. My neighbor unloaded pounds of zucchini on me this past weekend, so I whipped up some zucchini bread. Which I call vegetable cake. I knew that getting my 16 year old to eat a bread with zucchini in it was going to be hard enough, but if I used whole wheat flour instead of white, chances were going to be slim. So, I stuck with white flour and my son gobbled it up. Deceptively delicious, right?

And last, but not least, chickpeas. I. Love. Chickpeas. Any way, shape, or form. I love 'em in a salad, roasted, or mashed up as hummus. But I recently came across this recipe that combines two of my faves: chickpeas and pasta. It's a simple recipe that doesn't sound all that yummy, but trust me, it's to-die for: pasta con ceci.

That's all I've got for this week. I've got the early shift at the Fitness Center tomorrow, so I've got to hit the hey. With any luck, I'll dream about pasta con ceci all night...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Individualized Approach

I was taking a group exercise class this week when a member mentioned that I looked fit and asked what I had been doing, so I told her about the Just 10 Challenge. She asked which change I had made to my diet had the biggest impact. I hesitated to answer because, I'm not sure it boils down to one change, and the thing is, what works for me, won't necessarily work for her. 

If there's one thing I've learned from Jacy over these past few weeks it's that in order to be effective, a weight loss plan must take into account a person's genes, environment, and lifestyle. Nutrition professionals like Jacy have long known that you can't just read a nutrition label or follow standard dietary guidelines and call it a day - there's more to it than that. People are finally starting to pay attention to the fact that foods and diets that work for some people, are less effective for others. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to losing weight. 

Jacy has devised a plan for me. Together we've tweaked it and built on it. While there are things I cannot feel, like high cholesterol, there are other things that I can feel - like my energy level, how well I am sleeping, and what my appetite is like. And paying attention to these things is part of figuring out what works and what doesn't. Physicians follow this approach with medication; they'll prescribe a particular medicine and if they don't get the results they want, they'll make an adjustment or a switch. And that's what a registered dietitian does, as well.

Jacy is my coach and being accountable to her makes this challenge real. Knowing that I am going to speak to her every week keeps me honest. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Summer Road Trip

Last weekend, I dropped my daughter off at school in Raleigh and continued up the East Coast, visiting friends and family along the way. When I reached my final destination, Long Beach Island, I beached myself on a lounge chair and enjoyed the view.

Before I embarked on my adventure, I spoke with Jacy about my plan. My food plan, that is. I had no itinerary, I was going to be foot loose and fancy free. Just me, my car, and the open highway. But when I told Jacy that I was hitting the road, she had a few questions and made some suggestions that really resonated with me. 

In the past, a road trip was synonymous with Swedish Fish and pretzels. But at Jacy's suggestion, I skipped the fish and twisted knots and instead loaded the passenger seat with healthy snacks. Before I left, I stocked my cooler with individual nut packs from Trader Joe's, sparkling water, apples, carrots, some dark chocolate, and a chicken, vegetable wrap that I made with the leftovers from the dinner I had the night before I departed. The snacks nourished and sustained me through Richmond, DC, Baltimore, Wilmington, all the way to the shores of New Jersey. 

I'm not sure if it's a coincidence or if I subconsciously choose friends who are phenomenal cooks, but every friend I visited in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey put out a spread that could have graced the pages of Gourmet Magazine. Jacy warned me that eating right isn't always easy when you are at the mercy of your host for meals, but she assured me that I could still make good choices if I had a plan, and then she helped me with the plan. Lucky for me, my friends are not only amazing cooks, they also choose a variety of healthy foods and recipes. I ate like royalty without making a total pig of myself. 

I wouldn't normally choose a blueberry muffin the size of my head to start the day, but when I came downstairs and was greeted by my friend, the hostess with the hostess, handing me a muffin right out of the oven and a delicious latte with an impressive heart woven into the foam, well, let's just say, it was impossible to say no. So I ate part of the muffin, and filled the rest of my plate with fresh fruit. When we grilled burgers for lunch one day, I had mine open-faced on half of a bun. I skipped the chips in favor of a small salad and didn't feel guilty about washing it all down with a Corona (and an orange slice in stead of a lime - highly recommend it). The night we had homemade pesto pizza, I served myself one piece with a heaping serving of the tossed shrimp and avocado salad.  My cousin, the former bartender, featured a specialty cocktail every afternoon at happy hour. I enjoyed Saturday's blackberry mojito, Sunday's watermelon basil margarita, Monday's vodka-thyme lemonade, and Tuesday's sparkling shiraz punch. But I made a point to pass on the appetizers. I also chose not to sample the fudge or indulge in nightly dessert as I knew that on Tuesday evening we were going out for frozen custard and I was not going to pass on that little scoop of deliciousness. 

When I arrived home and stepped on the scale, I was pleased as (sparkling shiraz) punch to find that the number flashing on the display was the same as when I last stepped on it. I had so much fun visiting with my family and friends. I enjoyed countless delicious meals, I added a few new cocktails to my repertoire, and best of all - I managed to stay in control and on track (thanks to Jacy's voice in my ear). I was supposed to check in with her this evening at 8:15 for our weekly chat, but my husband and I are celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary, so I rescheduled for tomorrow. It's hard to take the Just 10 Challenge when there always seems to be a birthday to celebrate, or a road trip to take, or an anniversary to toast. But that's life, and you can't put life on hold. But you can learn to make a plan. And if you keep practicing the plan, day in and day out, eventually the plan becomes a habit. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Trouble with Cheat Days

I had a great face to face meeting with Jacy on Monday. And as expected, I got that much needed booster shot. We talked about my week of celebrating and overindulging with my family. And we talked about cheat days in general and agreed that they don't really work. The trouble with cheat days starts with the name. The very phrase sets up enjoying a meal or a snack as something forbidden. Separating food into good and bad categories encourages you to associate eating with guilt and shame. 

Jacy cautioned that when a food is off limits except for on a cheat day, it can develop a specific, emotional charge and you can actually begin obsessing about it, fantasizing about it, and looking forward to that cheat day all week. Then, when you finally have access to the food, you overeat. Research shows that people who hold themselves back on all days except their cheat day are actually less likely to reach their dietary goals. They are more likely to consume a greater number of calories, not only on their cheat day, but on the days following it. Restricting yourself throughout the week and then slamming your body with sugar and fat once the cheat day rolls around can have a massive impact on blood sugar and insulin levels. Personally, I think there's a pretty fine line between a cheat day and a free-fall into food binging - especially if you're white-knuckling it during the other six days a week. 

So...if cheat days don't work, am I better off eating whatever I want, whenever I want? Nice try, right? I've learned from Jacy that following a healthy diet means including a number of different kinds of foods - all of which are to be consumed in moderation. And for me specifically - that means three square meals a day with planned snacks, incorporating treats - but in smaller portion. Sprinkling reasonably sized treats into my daily diet encourages me to find pleasure in meal time and that pleasure will help ensure that I don't feel the need to go overboard when birthday cake is served every day for an entire week. 

Instead of confining my treats to a single day, I'm gong to drop them into places throughout the week. I am incorporating a few pieces of chocolate after dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I'm going to enjoy a Cashew Cluster (from Costco - to die for) in the afternoon to satisfy my salty/sweet need. I'm also going to concentrate on savoring every bite. Instead of inhaling my food, I'm going to concentrate on how it tastes and smells and I'm going to enjoy the experience as a whole. 

So what's the takeaway?

Denying myself most of the week and then indulging like crazy on a day "off" or when my family is in town celebrating a birthday just promotes guilt, anxiety and shame around eating. Instead, I am going to make every day a great day by listening to my appetite, periodically adding in some of my favorite foods in small portions, and savoring each and every bite I eat. This sustainable approach will enable me to think of all of my eating as enjoyable and that's what will get me down the road to where I want to be. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Had a Minor Setback

As I mentioned in my first post, many of my family's traditions are food-related. It started with my grandparents, but the next two generations added their mark. My mother's lasagna, my father's antipasto, my youngest sister's carrot casserole (I never said that all of our traditions were delicious, or even edible) and my oldest sister's back up apple pie that is tucked out of sight on Thanksgiving (a brilliant contribution that grew out of the need to keep certain family members from becoming completely unhinged at the thought of no leftover pie for the post-holiday breakfast).

This past week, my sisters and their families descended upon Charlotte to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday. As you can imagine, there was lots of food and drink. And enough birthday cake to feed 80 eighty year olds. A part of me was sad that I couldn't hang out with everybody during the day as they lounged at the pool, drinking Margaritas and snacking on guacamole and chips. But another part of me was grateful that I had somewhere to be as it kept me from overindulging during the day. But every evening, I joined my family for cocktails, dinner, and a birthday cake that seemed to get larger, rather than smaller with each passing day.

I would be lying if I told you that I stuck to my healthy eating objective. I absolutely made my fair share of less than stellar choices. But even while I was eating birthday cake like it was my job, I could hear Jacy's voice in my head reminding me to be mindful of every bite. And every sip. And while I wasn't counting calories, I tried to make every calorie count. Maybe not my hardest, but I tried. I'm not going to beat myself up; my mother only turns 80 once. So, for a few days, food wasn't all about nutrients and refueling my body. But, next week I will recommit to making good choices. I'll slip on my sneakers (metaphorically and in reality) and I will begin where I left off.

Because of my crazy week at work and at home, I was unable to meet on-one-on with Jacy. But I am on her calendar for Monday. I'm excited about the new recipes she is going to share and I am looking forward to that much needed shot of adrenaline that only Jacy can provide. I know that habit formation hinges on my ability to bounce back. Watch me bounce.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Being Mindful About Every Bite

Yesterday I had my weekly chat with Jacy. Every time we speak, Jacy has a calming effect on me. I could listen to her all day long; she is encouraging, supportive, and is a wealth of knowledge. She asked how I did with portion controls this week and I admitted that while my dinner plates were the picture of restraint, I would be lying if I didn't admit to sneaking a few bites during the plating of my healthy meals. Sadly, even if the food doesn't make it to the plate and instead goes right in your mouth, it still counts. This week, my goal is not only portion control, but portion control without the cheating. 

I told Jacy that I thought losing weight was really about being mindful about every bite. She agreed, but stressed that being mindful is what is going to work for me; but that isn't necessarily the plan for everybody. We all are faced with a different set of challenges when it comes to weight loss. But that's the beauty of this Just 10 Challenge; Jacy has a unique plan for every member who rises to the challenge.

Next week when we meet, Jacy is going to bring some recipes to help me shake things up so I don't get bored. She promised to concentrate on foods that will help lower my cholesterol. And while Jacy is great with concrete things like recipes and tips, what I've enjoyed most is how she is helping me change my attitude, my behavior, and my daily habits. Which is, I realize, no easy task. These attitudes and behaviors and beliefs have been going strong for 52 years. And they come from many places; from the diet industry (no pain, no gain), to our culture (beauty = thin) to our families (food is love). Changing beliefs is difficult because we identify with them so strongly that most of the time we can't even see them. 

I'm down a couple of pounds. Jacy asked me if my clothes are fitting better. I told her that I can't really remember the last time I put on normal clothes. One of the benefits of running the Fitness Center is that yoga pants really are my uniform. Legit. I wear them 24/7. But, yes, I am feeling much better than I did 3 weeks ago. And I will admit, if it weren't for my weekly appointments with Jacy, I would have given up a long time ago. I was going to pour myself a glass of wine with dinner, but knowing that I had to weigh myself and check in with Jacy, I decided to wait until tomorrow night (Friday). Well, TGIF, today is Friday. And it's 3:14 pm. But who's counting? 

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Amount Counts

I just got off the phone with Jacy. I'm learning so much during this Challenge. Not the least of which is that once you reach 50, as I did several years ago, your metabolic rate decreases as much as 5 to 8 percent every decade. Jacy shared this depressing fact: to compensate for my 50 year old metabolism, I need to eat about 200 calories a day fewer than I did when I was younger. Let me be clear - that's not to lose weight - that's just to maintain my current weight and avoid packing on 10 pounds in a year. To lose weight, I have to take into account this slower metabolism. That doesn't mean that I have to count every calorie, but it does mean that every calorie counts. 

Here's something I have to embrace: healthy eating does not equal weight loss. Even if I cut out all processed food, eat organically, and consume a lot of salmon and olive oil, I can still manage to grow my waistline. A serving is a serving; a half a cup of brown rice is the same as a half a cup of white rice when it comes to measuring portions for weight loss. Will the brown rice pack more power in terms of fiber and other nutrients? Absolutely. Can I eat more of it because it's healthier? Absolutely not. Almond butter is a great source of protein, but 2 tablespoons is the serving size, not the entire jar. 

That's a hard one to grasp as so many of us assume eating heart-healthy foods means free rein to eat unlimited portions. It doesn't. No matter how heart-healthy, low-fat, organic, gluten-free, or low carb that food may be, you must keep portions under control. And that's hard for me because I definitely suffer from portion distortion. I think the cards are stacked against me because my DNA has me wired to believe that I am still a hunter-gatherer, threatened by imminent famine (even as I drive my SUV to Costco where I am presented with thousands of products, often sold in packages that could feed a small nomadic tribe.)

My motto this week is: the amount counts. Jacy gave me a few tricks to try and goals to strive for and will call me next week to check up on my progress. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

One week down, Eleven to go....

This week, as well as the next two weeks of the Challenge, Jacy checks in with me for a 15 minute phone call to review my goals, answer my questions, and give me a motivational boost. But I have to admit, this week I didn't really need any motivation. I'm still pretty jazzed about this Challenge.

It felt good to be in control of something. I have plenty to manage in my life, but there are only a few things that I truly have control over and my diet is one of them. 

Here's what I know to be true: even though it tastes great, junk food makes my body and my brain slow and sad. One of the things Jacy and I talked about during my initial consult was my snacking problem. Remember when snacking was reserved for kids who were excused from waiting to eat at prescribed meal times because of all the growing they were doing and freeze tag they were playing? Yeah, well, times have changed. Now everybody snacks. Too often and too much. And food marketers have aided and abetted the constant grazing going on in America. 

Jacy and I agreed that instead of coming home from work and inhaling anything I can get my hands on, I would plan ahead and have easy-to-whip-up or convenient-to-carry portable snacks that are both delicious and nutritious. At Jacy's suggestion, I consulted the nutrition facts on a bag of almonds and instead of snarfing down handfuls, I actually ate a legit serving size. And you know what? It was plenty. And satisfying. And held me over until dinner time. I get an A+ for my planning, thank you very much. 

We also discussed how a few years ago the 19-year-old food pyramid was replaced by a colorful four-part plate as the icon of the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines called My Plate. The icon makes it clear that fruits and veggies should make up half of your meal. The other half of the plate is divided into two parts: the smaller of the two is a lean, healthy protein and a slightly larger part is reserved for whole grains. In an attempt to lower my cholesterol, Jacy is encouraging me to fill the whole grains section with quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat pasta (my grandfather would be proud) at lunch and dinner time, and with oatmeal or a whole wheat English muffin at breakfast. 

After we spoke on the phone, Jacy emailed me links to websites for recipe ideas. And she told me about a whole wheat English muffin that actually has whole wheat listed as the main ingredient. We are all supposed to be consuming more whole grains and fewer products made from refined grains, but that doesn't make the bread aisle any less confusing. Is multigrain the same as whole grain? And where does whole wheat fit in? Jacy set me straight. 
  • Whole Grain means that all parts of the grain are used, including the nutritious germ and bran. Whole grains are higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber than refined grains, which are processed to remove all but the starchy endosperm
  • Whole Wheat is simply the whole grain version of wheat
  • Multigrain means that more than one type of grain has been used, but that doesn't necessarily mean that any of them are whole grains. So, a bread labeled "multigrain" might actually be made from white flour, without any of the benefits of whole grains. 
It's tricky and confusing, right? To make sure the bread you are buying is made from whole grains, look at the label: whole wheat flour or whole grain flour should be among the first ingredients listed. Or look for the words "100% whole wheat" or "100% whole grain" on the package, which will ensure that you aren't buying a loaf of white bread masquerading as whole grain. 

Jacy will check in with me again next week. Until then, here's to making good choices and creating healthy habits. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

My First Meeting with Jacy

As Jacy explained it to me, the science behind losing weight is the same for everybody, You need to make smart choices, practice portion control, and increase movement and exercise.

But that's where the similarity stops because each of us face different challenges when it comes to weight loss: age, hormones, metabolism, health risks, personalities, habits, and relationships with food. In order to be successful, you need a balanced program that will help you learn about what changes are right for you and your unique situation. Enter Jacy. 

I can't stress how easy it is to talk with Jacy; the hour we spent together flew by. She is approachable, articulate, professional and in a word...lovely. As we reviewed my food journal, Jacy put on her detective hat, read between the lines, and uncovered areas that need some attention. She offered great suggestions while asking for my input and feedback.

Before members start training at the Fitness Center, a personal trainer puts them through an assessment. It's a simple physical test - a series of lunges, squats, balance moves, etc., so that the trainer can get a feel for how the client moves. Based on the results, a program is created that concentrates on the areas that need strengthening. I couldn't help but notice that the hour I spent with Jacy was like a personal training assessment. She asked the right questions, never once making me feel like I was being judged, and then we put together a plan. Jacy is supportive and encouraging and passionate about helping.

Here's what Jacy didn't do:

  • She didn't give me a rigid diet, stipulating black and white rules on what I can and cannot eat
  • She didn't eliminate any foods completely from my diet
  • She didn't give unrealistic expectations

Instead, Jacy and I set a few attainable goals and we will chat next week to see how it is working.

Losing weight and losing weight in a healthy manner are two very different things. Learning how to lose weight while eating healthy and avoiding nutritional deficiencies is key to sustaining good health and keeping the weight off. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Before the Initial Consult

When I set up the initial meeting with Jacy, she sent me a consult form as well as a template for a 3 day food record and asked that I bring it to our one hour meeting. Three days of recording every blessed thing that I put into my mouth. Holy mother of pearl. Keep in mind that one of those three days is the 4th of July; a day I intend to inhale lots of snacks and a myriad of adult refreshments in honor of our great country. Perhaps knowing that I'll be recording my actions and sharing them with Jacy will entice me to make better choices? Fingers crossed.

I know that a food journal can do more than just track food and portion sizes. If I record the time of day that I eat and other activities that surround my eating habits, my food journal can help me identify consistent patterns in eating (i.e. After a glass of wine, I often find myself in the pantry. Grazing. And things of that nature.). Journaling is designed to build awareness of my habits and teach me how to judge portion sizes. But, I have no intention of journaling indefinitely. I don't want food journaling to become an obsession. Life is too short to be neurotic about food and weight loss. But I'm jumping ahead; I haven't met with Jacy or listened to her words of wisdom. Perhaps I'll change my tune. I'm open to her suggestions....

Monday, June 6, 2016

I'm Taking the Challenge

My grandfather emigrated from Italy when he was 16 years old. He met my grandmother, who also arrived in America via Ellis Island, after she escaped czarist Russia. They raised my father in New York City where they learned a new culture, new customs and a new language. Lucky for me, my grandmother also learned to cook a new cuisine - that of her husband's homeland.

I have vivid memories of running into my grandparents' apartment and being met with the sound and scent of delicious Italian food being prepared in the kitchen. My grandmother always had one arm outstretched to hug my sisters and me while the other was permanently attached to a wooden spoon stirring sauce. My grandparents' home was one of compassion, love, family gatherings Food has always been an important part of our family. 

As the son of two immigrants who grew up during the depression, my father has amazing stories to share and has imparted me with his wisdom and invaluable lessons over the years. But enticing me, at an early age, to become a member of the Clean Plate Club was probably not his best advice. I have been a card carrying member ever since, and will most likely be cursed for the rest of my life. I inherited my father's love of food, his Roman nose, and his high cholesterol. 

For the past few months, members have been asking me about the Just 10 Challenge. After I give them my spiel (a nod to my Yiddish speaking Russian grandmother), I always encourage them to speak directly with Jacy to get a better understanding of what it entails. It finally occurred to me that I should put my money where my mouth is and take the challenge myself. Exercise comes easy for me, but keeping my diet in check, not so much. Losing 10 pounds can help to lower my blood pressure, reduce my risk of stroke, and lower my cholesterol. I'm in.

Tomorrow, I'm meeting with Jacy for our initial one hour consult to discuss what has and has not worked for me in the past. I'd like to blame my family for my past sins, but it's time to take control and ownership. I will share with you what I learn and if you are so inclined, you can follow along with me as I plan to blog about the Challenge. Maybe I'll inspire you to take the challenge with me? Please? Pretty please with sugar on top? Ok, maybe skip the sugar. But, please, join me! Call Jacy Shaffer at 312-391-0000.