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.