The No-Diet Way of Living To Lose Weight

Your weight is not who you are.

Your weight is not who you are.

Losing weight is never an easy proposition.  It’s one that usually requires a tremendous amount of will power as well as the determination to exercise.  Both can create a situation that puts one out of the mood to even attempt to lose weight but, does it really need to be that hard and, are we going about it all the wrong way?

Most of us have been on diets at some point or another in our lives.  There are very few of us who haven’t at least made an attempt at getting in proper nutrition and physical fitness.  For the most part, we’ve fallen off of that proverbial wagon, much the same way an addict can slip off the sobriety course.  Why?  Why is it so hard to lose weight?

In a sense, as living, breathing creatures, we cannot escape having to eat in order to live.  In most developed countries, food is in abundance and, we see it everywhere we go.  We cannot avoid eating.  It’s not like we can put down the bottle of gin or stub out a cigarette and never go back to having a drink or a smoke again.  We need to eat and food will always be around. That makes it hard as temptation stares at us everywhere we turn and we can’t cut it out of our lives.  

Many of us feel that unless we are eating only salads, small portions and exercising ourselves into the ground at the gym, we are somehow not going to lose weight.  As a society, we’ve come to learn that we somehow need to be deprived and hard worked to lose weight but, is that the truth?

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ll know that it means “sacrifice”.  It feels like deprivation and oftentimes, we find ourselves hungry, eyeing the cat as though he would make a perfect snack or, we look at those running shoes and spandex outfit we’ve bought ourselves and want to go hide under the bed with the now, shaking cat.  

Diets work.  We can lose weight if we stick to a plan.  There are thousands of them out there, including crazy crash diets, fads, pills and wonder drugs.  Losing weight is someone else’s gain.  Our weight loss efforts go straight into their wallets and we are all suckers when it comes to losing it quickly.  If there’s a gimmick out there that has been created, promising us to help us lose weight, we’ll likely jump at it.  

The real problem is, diets…yes, even the crazy, insane ones that cut out entire groups of food or make us drink our meals, are only temporary solutions.  We’ll get the weight off.  Cut out enough calories for long enough and it will come off.  The problem is, it often returns with a vengeance and brings more with it.  Why is that?

No one can live on deprivation and feeling hungry forever.  If you’ve climbed onto a wagon, chances are, you’re going to fall off of it at some point or another.  Diets are the wagons.  They’re pretty much impossible to stay on forever and there comes the weight, creepy or even sailing back on again.  They’re meant to get off a certain amount of weight in a hurry but, they are not meant to stay on forever.  With the exception of something more flexible, like Weight Watchers types of dieting that allow us to eat whatever we want in limited or regulated amounts, we simply cannot sustain something that gives us a sense of deprivation or cuts out entire groups of foods.  Nor, can most of us devote ourselves to daily trips to the gym for extensive workouts forever.  Injuries occur and eventually, for one reason or another, that gym membership is going to go by the wayside for a good portion of people.  That’s why gyms will see an influx of new customers in January of every year but, have less than half that amount, 2 or 3 months later.  

So, what does make sense?  How can we lose weight and more importantly, keep it off.  

  • Journal.  Start off by buying an inexpensive dollar store notebook.  Write down everything you put into your mouth during a day, including non-caloric items such as water or black tea, without sugar.  
  • Write down what you’re eating as you’re eating it.  Don’t wait for the end of the day and try to remember everything you’ve eaten.  It doesn’t work.  Your memory may be great but, it’s not a steel trap no matter what your friends tell you. You can always spend a few moments at the end of the day, doing your totals in calories but, journal in real-time.  
  • Be honest with yourself by weighing and measuring your foods.  Get a set of digital scales.  They’re cheap…especially, at places like Walmart or Amazon.com.  A set of measuring spoons and a set of measuring cups are really cheaply gotten at your nearest dollar store.  You don’t need to get expensive with them.  
  • Use your computer, your phone or your tablet to download a calorie counting app.  Take your pick.  You can even journal on some of them and not need a notebook.  Spark People, Fitness Pal and several others offer free apps and programs for tracking and calorie counting.  
  • Shop the outer aisles of your grocery store.  The middle aisles contain the “danger foods” but, you’ll also need to go into them for some things.  Just remember that the bulk of your shopping should be done on the outside aisles not the middle aisles as most of us shop.  The temptations dwell in those middle aisles, waiting to sabotage even the most hardened of dieters.
  • Always have fresh foods available at home and, pack weighed and measured foods for your lunch and snacks.  That doesn’t mean that you can never eat out but, start by trying to eat as many meals as you can, prepared from home where you can be sure of how many calories actually lay in those packed lunches/snacks.
  • Eat every 2 to 3 hours.  Don’t starve yourself to 3 meals per day.  Doing that keeps us starving by the time we get to a meal and more calories get consumed than we’d even imagine when we’re hungry.  Aim to get 3 meals and several snacks.  Never go hungry.  
  • Find out what calorie level you’d need to be on in order to lose weight.  We all have a maintenance level, a losing level and a gaining level.  Use one of the sites like Spark People, My Fitness Pal or, simply google free calculators to find your level of calories for your weight, height, gender and level of physical activity.
  • It takes 20 minutes for our brains to recognize that we have had enough to eat or, that we’ve long since surpassed that level and are not just satisfied but, totally overloaded.  Take your time while eating.  Enjoy each mouthful of food and perhaps, even put your fork or spoon down in between bites.  Chew thoroughly and actually taste your food.  Try to sit to eat (not standing or munching on the run), preferably with no distractions, such as reading or television.  It’s easy to consume your entire portion, feel satisfied but, go back for more when you don’t remember what you’ve eaten and haven’t tasted it. 
  • Don’t get down on yourself if you’ve gone over during a meal and give up your entire new eating style.  Chalk it up to a meal where you ate more than was planned and try to get back on track for the rest of the day or week.  Don’t dive into a box of cookies or a cake, thinking “I’ve done it now.  May as well give up and forget it.”   Remember, it’s cumulative.  We need a smaller number of calories over time to lose weight.  It isn’t a “lost cause” because you’ve had one day where things weren’t exactly on target/plan or even a day or a week (like during vacations).  Just get back to eating more healthfully and get back on it as soon as you notice the deviation.  
  • As for physical activity or exercise…the bulk of your weight loss will come from your eating, not running on a treadmill, no matter what the calories burned say on your digital read-out.  You really can’t exercise your way though an entire chocolate cake’s worth of calories.  While exercise is needed in any healthy living pattern, it need not be hours in a gym or forced.  The calories that you can burn during any exercise period will not even remotely equal the number of calories extra that we can consume.  Exercise is healthy for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which includes, emotional well-being.  We need to move our bodies but, it doesn’t need to be hours in a gym, on treadmills or running 5 miles a day…unless, of course, that’s what brings you happiness.  If you struggle with feeling that you have to exercise a certain amount, you won’t likely keep it up.  Let’s face it, there are days when exercise just isn’t in our abilities to do for one reason or another.  That’s ok.  It’s not going to make up the bulk of your weight loss anyway.  Even gardening, house cleaning, walking from the furthest point in the parking lot, taking the stairs, dancing in your underwear if that makes your day, doing the dishes by hand, a stroll with a friend after dinner or lunch or breakfast, walking the dog…everything counts.  Just move more than you usually do and find some activity that you enjoy doing and keep on doing it.  Just move your body.  Most of us are couch-potatoes and technology has made that easier for us to do.  We don’t even need to get up to change the television channel anymore.  Heck, I’m not sure it’s even possible to do.  Simply make it a point to get in more physical movement for now.  

Losing weight doesn’t have to be a monumental task, complete with deprivation and exercising that none of us are likely to keep up with unless we truly enjoy doing it.  It has to be a way of life.  We have to feel “satisfied” and not hungry, starving or so tired out from exercise that we can barely get out of bed or put on our shirts because we’re too sore and tired.  We won’t keep that level up for long and, we certainly won’t maintain our weight afterwards if we do this.  We’ve got to be comfortable with how we live.  

Diets don’t work long termed.  It has to be a lifestyle change that can be maintained or we’ll be back to a diet again in a few months or weeks.  Remember that there are people out there who are making big bucks on keeping you dieting.  It’s to their benefit to trap you into that vicious cycle and keep you coming back, draining your wallet into their bank accounts.  

There are a couple of books that I highly recommend reading.  

Firstly, is The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhoff M.D..  Freedhoff is a doctor who found that his patients were struggling to lose weight in spite of diagnoses of ailments that were weight related and could be changed.  He admits that the average family doctor is simply not educated enough in nutrition to be of help to their patients.  He gives straight forward, easy to understand advice and principles, teaching us how to turn the dieting world on its ear and stick to a way of living and eating that will be a slower but totally sustainable way of getting off and keeping weight off for life.  It’s not a diet.  It’s a pattern change.  

Secondly, is I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna.  There’s no diet involved in McKenna’s book.  He’s teaching us how to re-train and re-set our brains towards a more healthful pattern of eating with behavioural modifications.  He’s included a self-hypnosis cd with the book.  (Use it or not, the principles in this book are invaluable by themselves.)  

There’s also apps for your cell phone, computer or tablet in which you can journal and look up calorie counts.  Both set your goal/target levels for your personal weight and activity level (be honest or you’ll be cheating yourself) by answering a couple of basic questions like current weight, weight goal/target weight (be realistic here too…if you were a toothpick in highschool, you might not look good at that weight now nor, be able to maintain it again), height and activity level.  They keep track of your activities as well as your body measurements if you want to track them too.  

SparkPeople apps

My Fitness Pal apps

There, I’ve done the research for you.  You simply need to have the want to lose weight sensibly and without harsh dieting or hours in the gym.  

Losing weight means a lifestyle change that can be maintained by YOUR lifestyle and comfort level.  It needn’t be a struggle that you can’t maintain.  Learn a few principles that diets won’t teach you and save your money for a trip to a beach somewhere instead of padding other people’s pockets.  

Beyond anything else that can be said about dieting and losing weight, there are fit and healthy people who are not of ideal weight.  The people you see on magazine covers have been photoshopped out of recognition.  Even they don’t really look like that.  Take a look at Oprah’s magazine covers.  While she’s lost a lot of weight herself, she is by far, not thin in real life. She’s come a long way but, then again, Oprah has a personal trainer and a gourmet cook who travels with her to keep her on track.  Take a look inside her magazine and you’ll find more realistic pictures of her than you’ll see on her covers.  That’s a flaw that Oprah has to do something about as well.  Even she has fallen prey to allowing herself to be whittled down, de-flawed and perfected in her cover shots.  It does damage to other people in seeing these false images.  None of these stars look like themselves while on covers so, don’t compare yourself to those standards.  Even they don’t look like they do on those covers or articles.  

Love yourself right now.  Love yourself as you are.  Think of who you are as a person and your good qualities.  Those things don’t lay in the numbers on the back of a garment you can wear.  Learn to appreciate your best qualities and even your less than best.  You are worthy just because you exist.  The numbers on a scale cannot measure those things.  You have a lot to offer the world as you are right now.  That’s the way that I’m seeing things from my little corner of life.  

Losing Weight Online Review

Weight Watchers has been around forever.  It’s a sane, sound weight loss system that doesn’t need any introduction to most of us, struggling to lose weight.  It has a sound track record that goes back decades and promotes a healthy way of living versus a diet.

As with most things nowadays, Weight Watchers no longer requires you to go to meetings in order to be with the program as they’ve taken it online.  However, it’s not free.  Actually, it’s rather costly for what it is, in all reality.  It’s an online program that you follow on your own, keeping your own weigh-ins and measurements and exercise tracking on your own.

While one can see the costs in up-keeping data space and web design costs, it’s a little dubious as to why it is so costly when there is a perfectly wonderful online program that works on the same basis but, can be either free or a paid account…both of which are far less costly.

If you’ve never heard of this site before, it’s called “Spark People” and happens to be one of the best online weight loss programs that I’ve encountered thus far.

With the free program, you get all of the same trackers and more as Weight Watchers provides as well as a few extras.  You also get discussion forums and the ability to connect with others who are also aiming for the same goals that you’re trying to obtain.

If you’re 50 and over and want to meet other 50 and overs, trying to lose weight and get healthier and into a healthier lifestyle, there’s a board and group for that goal.  If you can name it, there’s a discussion on it and if you can’t find it, you can start it.

Spark offers your own trackers or, it will supply a meal menu for you with your own adjustable menu items.  It tells you how much you’ve had in a day and how much more you can have, without going over your limit.  You set the limit of how fast you want to lose and they do the calculating for you as to your particular weight, goal, speed, exercise ability, lifestyle etc..  It’s really all encompassing for free.

While Weight Watchers has developed the Points System, Spark operates on a calories level.  Not much of a hassle or difference and honestly, having come from an age where calories are what we went by, it seems far easier to know the caloric value, fat levels etc., than to figure out points.  Try going to McDonald’s and finding the point value for Weight Watchers food counts.  You’ll get their charts with the caloric value as well as all of the other stats but, you won’t find Weight Watcher’s points values.  You’ll have to pay for their charts to factor how many points you’re about to eat.

Some very eye-opening knowledge can come from counting calories versus points.

Did you know that you can have a grilled Southwest Chicken Sandwich at McDonalds for less calories than one of their dinner salads (using their dressing)?  Wouldn’t you think it would be the opposite way around?  Check out their website to find out for yourself.  It blew my mind to realize that.  I also realized that it’s ok to have a McDonald’s apple pie with my tea and not blow my calorie balance for the day.

I was astounded to go find out that ordering a toasted bagel in Tim Hortons was more calories (almost double) than having a jelly filled donut and, we don’t want to talk about the muffins.

Looking at caloric values can make you think smarter and be more aware that what you thought “should” be better for you, actually isn’t.  Whereas, with a points system, you’re still not sure where you stand because not many places will post Weight Watchers points values but, pretty much all major restaurant chains have a website where their food values are posted…especially, fast food chains.

Would I put Weight Watchers down?  Absolutely not!  It’s a sound and well researched, time honored and healthy way to lose weight.  However, it can bite into your wallet if you don’t have extra cash laying around month by month/week by week.  This is where Spark can come in and keep you on track, without the cost.  Of course, they will also offer you a Premium account, which does cost but, thus far, the free version has done well for me and a few others that I know who are now trying it out.

Take a look for yourself and see what suits you best.  Both are wonderful, sane, healthy and lifestyle changing methods to a healthier, slimmer, fitter you.

Best of luck!

Wynonna Judd Follows Kirstie Alley’s Dancing Footsteps Dancing With The Stars

Wynonna Judd

Country singer, Wynonna Judd has keenly followed actress, Kirstie Alley’s remarkable makeover and achievements while participating in ABC’s reality dancing show, “Dancing With The Stars” and, has signed up as a contestant on the show’s 16th season this year.

The show starts it’s season premiere episode March 18, 2013 with another star-studded cast and rounds of tortuous training and hard elimination rounds.

Judd has already prepared herself for what to expect by talking to former contestant, Kirstie Alley.  As an overweight, 60-something, Alley went on to be a contestant twice on DWTS and lost a ton of weight, becoming fit and trim.

“When I talked to Kirstie (Alley), she said, ‘You know what? It’ll be the
most fun you’ll ever have, and it’ll be the hardest you’ll ever work. She said
it absolutely put a fire under her butt and a pep in her step,” Judd said to interviewers.

“My lungs and diaphragm are absolutely intact and ready to go, and like the
Army, I can deploy in seconds. Look, I’ve sung on the back of a flatbed truck
and at the Kennedy Center with Marvin Hamlisch and a 60-piece orchestra.
I’ve been on the tallest of mountains and in the lowest of valleys. You just get
to a point where you’re so conditioned.”

Judd will turn 49 years old in May of this year, a farcry from Kirstie Alley’s age of 60 years when she had her first season on the show for Season 12 in 2011.  She was 61 years of age for Season 15 All Stars in 2012.

Judd, self-admittedly, had “let herself go” after her husband’s motorcycle accident where he lost a leg.  She became a caregiver, wife, and mother to her husband and kids and let her own self-care go.  She’s raring to get herself back into shape and feel better about herself and within herself.

It isn’t about the numbers on a scale or the label of clothing that Judd is concerned with.  It appears that she’s more focused on getting herself back to taking care of herself for health and emotional reasons.  It’s about feeling good about self and within self.

Judd admitted publicly that she knows that, “this is going to be like going into boot camp for me, because I don’t get to rest a whole lot in terms of movement,” she’s stated.

“When I’m touring and I get off the bus, I’ll meet anybody; seriously, I’m like Miss America. And Kirstie said, ‘Wynonna, you’re really going to have to focus on yourself.’ That was probably the biggest piece of information I needed. My kids are already saying, ‘Oh, it’s spring break! We want to come out and see you.’ And I’m like, ‘Sure, we’ll go to Malibu’.  And, then I think, ‘Wait a minute. I probably won’t be able to get out of bed, I’ll be so sore. I’m really going to have to put myself first, which may seem to some to be a selfish thing, but it’s about self-care. I think that’s what Kirstie taught me.  And everyone who is watching is going to know me so much more than they ever did.”

One look at Kirstie Alley “Before And After (DWTS)” shots is a story and of itself as to what perserverance and determination can do.

Kirstie Alley beforeafter

Lose Weight While Eating Dessert

 

Yes, you actually can have your cake and eat it too and still lose weight.
As a matter of fact, having dessert may actually be the key to losing weight.

I’m not a doctor nor, a weight loss guru who has all of the answers but, there are simple things that make a difference and having dessert is one of them.  As are planned snacks.

Let me take you back with me to my grandparents.  None of them were farmers with heavy loads of physical activities.  Yet, they were all slim people.  Not one of them ever had a weight problem….even by today’s standards.  Well, that’s not entirely true because today’s fashion and envy standards are eating disordered looking.  However, let’s say that they were slim, healthy weights which has made me wonder if I was adopted or had missed that set of “Slim Genes”.

I’m not exactly the most active of people.  Most of what I do for work and pleasure are more or less sedentary pursuits so, I have been working on getting in some form of daily activity for at least a half hour to an hour a day.  I’ve cut back portion sizes, cut out junk foods but, it really hasn’t made much of a difference so, I’ve thought back to my grandparents and parents and what they did.  What I’ve discovered was shockingly simple.

They all ate desserts and snacks.

When most of us think of dessert, we automatically think “fat” and pass it by.  If there’s one thing we’ll cut out, it’s the desserts first, snacking second.

I remember staying with both sets of grandparents during summers when I had to work to pay my way through university.  Dinners weren’t exactly diet menus.  There was roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravies, hams (not yams), beef stews, real butter, hefty white breads and all of the foods that one would be banishing pretty much from today’s fad diets.  I scratch my head at how they all lived until their late 80’s to mid-90’s and didn’t die of heart attacks and blocked arteries but, that’s beside the point.  In spite of what we’ve been told, these people were all slim and lived healthy, good long lives.

That gave me pause and confused me to no end.  How did that work?  Here I am, eating salads with lemon juice or vinegar, fat-free yogurt, only fish and chicken breasts, tons of veggies and fruits, low fat everything and only whole grains yet, still wasn’t budging much.  What was going wrong?

It wasn’t until I was recounting dinner menus from both grandparents’ homes to my husband that I realized a few things that were key.

Dinner plates were what we would call, “bread and butter plates”.   They were approximately 8 to 10 inches in diameter, not the 12 and 14 inch plates we have today.  They always looked far fuller than what they really were so, it fooled the eye and stomach into thinking we were eating tremendous amounts.  In reality, if we put those portions onto one of today’s plates, we’d be asking when dinner was going to be served.  Somehow though, it always seemed like we had a full meal and didn’t feel deprived.

There was always bread and butter and potatoes of some kind with every meal and, while the carb-haters of the world would gasp at this concept, they were not the evils we’d think that they were.  While I would now prefer whole grain breads for its nutritional and fiber value (versus empty white bread calories), carb avoidance was certainly not an issue.  As a matter of fact, it was a staple and the meats were of lesser quantities but, still there.

Every meal had fruit and vegetables.  Breakfasts were small bowls of cereal like oatmeal or, cream of wheat, shredded wheat and topped with berries or peaches and tea.

Lunches were sandwiches of salmon or cheese, lettuce and tomato, sometimes, left over chicken breasts, sliced and loads of vegetables cut up to munch on, then some sort of fruit like canned (store-bought or home jarred) peaches or fruit cocktail, topped with a tablespoon of whipped topping.

Mid-afternoon, was always tea.  Along with the tea, came some sort of snack.  While I would hesitate on that now because of the trans fat content, it was usually, some sort of sweet cookies or angel food cake or something light and not much of it.  Just enough to feel we’d had something.  It was never on-the-go fare.  It was a sit-down affair.  Concentrating on the actual taste of both the sweet and the tea.

Dinners were as described above but, after each dinner, there was always a dessert like a small portion of pudding or jello or more fruit cocktail with whipped topping or a small portion of ice cream with fruit.  We’re not talking soup bowl sizes, but those small dessert bowls that one often sees at a fancy dinner party.  And, of course, more tea with dessert.

Mid-evening, there was more tea and usually some form of a small snack such as a couple of digestive biscuits or crackers with cheese or peanut butter.

No one ever went hungry and it was that point which was key.

The small portions on the breakfast, lunch and dinner plates never felt small because there was always a tasty treat coming next it to look forward to so, no one went back for second helpings or loaded their plates.  Everyone left room for dessert and tea, which filled us up to just satisfaction level, not stuffed feeling.  No one walked away bloated or nauseous.

I think the biggest key was that meals were treated as a social time.  It was never eaten on the run.  It was tasted fully, savoured and enjoyed.  It was never mindless eating.  Conversations also slowed the eating down, which signalled our brains as to our stomachs being full and we didn’t require more to satisfy us.  Tea, dessert and talking were key factors to slowing down and eating less.

With all of the diets out there on the market, all of the talk about good foods-bad foods, all of the warnings about sugar, sodium, trans fats, preservative content, our hurried lifestyles, our self-deprivation, our fat-free, carb-free, we’re literally making ourselves FAT and putting ourselves in jeopardy of heart problems and diabetes.  We’ve become a nutrition conscious society of fat, unhealthy people because no one really knows what to eat anymore, how or when.  We’re fumbling and making ourselves sicker because we’re too worried about the next study that will come out to tell us we’re eating wrong.

We’re giving up because it’s too much to think about and remember.  We’re confused as to what to eat so, we either end up with eating disorders or, we pig-out purely out of frustration.

There’s a plethora of foods now available to us.  We have choices so, dessert doesn’t need to be unhealthy.  It may contain some sugar.  It may contain some sort of fats but, as long as it’s in small portions and well enjoyed, the weight won’t be an issue.  When the weight is not a factor, diabetes won’t be either.

So, eat healthy choices like lean meats, chicken and fish.  Eat potatoes and bread but, switch to whole grain breads and sweet potatoes.  Have oils and fats but, keep them healthy fats and oils like canola.  Eat butter sometimes but, keep it in small amounts and make it margarines instead the rest of the time.  Have the fruits and vegetables and dress them up.  Just keep everything smaller portion sizes.

Take your time with your meals.  We can all cut out something in our days to make time to sit down and enjoy our meals and snacks.  If possible, make it a social time.  Remember that the more we are talking, the less we eat and the more we enjoy our food.

Most of all, add a dessert.   Make it a healthy, small portion dessert but, have dessert and treat yourself.

All things in moderation.  That’s the key.