Archive for May, 2007

The Power of Clear Intentions

May 31, 2007

I want to talk about a principle that’s vital to success in ANY goal you may wish to achieve, weight loss related or not.  In fact, I’ll be honest and tell you that I frequently floundered instead of hitting goals until I discovered this secret.

The principle I’m talking about is the principle of clear intentions.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this  power tool.  You’d only be doing yourself a disservice.

Having a clear intention means knowing EXACTLY what you want to accomplish, and EXACTLY how you are going to accomplish it.  If you’re not clear about what you want, you’ll end up with mixed, confused results.  If you don’t know exactly how are you’re going to accomplish your goal, then you’ll going to make half assed attempts at it, scatter your efforts and scatter your energies.  The chance that you’ll hit your goal is minimal, at best.

Having clear intentions is like having a laser-guided homing system…you can COUNT on getting what you want!

So…how can we apply this powerful thing to our weight loss efforts?

Grab a piece of paper and pen, then spend a few minutes answering these 5 questions.  The more detailed and focused your answers, the more power you’ll unleash to hit your goals.

  1.  What are the reasons I want to lose weight?
  2. What EXACT steps am I going to take to lose this weight?
  3. How much weight do I want to lose?
  4. What exactly do I need to learn or what resources do I need to acquire in order to hit my goal?
  5. When am I going to start?

Like I said, the more detailed your answers, the clearer your intentions.  And the clearer your intentions…the closer you are to changing your life!

How to Spot a Weight Loss Scam

May 30, 2007

There is a LOT of money that changes hands in the weight loss industry.  Literally millions and millions of dollars every year.  There are a lot of smart (notice I didn’t say ‘ethical’) marketers who are more than willing to play on the pain felt by those who are struggling to lose weight.

Don’t let this be you!

Here are a couple of things to look for to let you know that the relief you are seeking may be a rip off:

Secret Formulas — Secret formulas, my fanny.  Here’s the only secret formula you need: eat whole foods, avoid processed food, reduce portion size, cut out sugar, and move more often.  That’s the only secret formula you need to lose weight and keep it off.

Promises weight loss in specific body parts — No, you can not reduce just your waist, or just cellulite on your thighs.  Anybody selling anything that says you can is full of it.

No physical address — if the ad only has a 800 number or PO Box, use caution!  You want to be able to get ahold of someone if you don’t get what you’re promised.

Never forget that there are a lot of untrustworthy people out there, willing to tell you anything you want to hear about losing weight so they can get their hand in your wallet.

Drop the Soda and Back Away Slowly…

May 29, 2007

As a reformed Pepsi-holic, I’m not a fan of soda (or, pop, as we call it in my part of the Midwest).  In fact, I don’t even recommend making the switch to diet sodas.  I rarely drink the stuff, preferring water, tea, coffee, even Crystal Lite…anything but soda. I believe that even the diet version slows down weight loss, which is one of the reasons I gave it up.

But I’ve found another reason to quit drinking soda;  it messes with your DNA!

No, I’m not kidding.

Research has shown that sodium benzoate, a preservative in many of the sodas on the market, can actually switch off parts of your DNA.  It can even eventually lead to Parkinson’s Disease.

Here’s what one of the researchers, Dr. Peter Piper (alright, no Pickled Peppers jokes!) had to say about the effect of sodium benzoate:

“These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether.”The mitochondria consumes the oxygen to give you energy and if you damage it – as happens in a number if diseased states – then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. And there is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA – Parkinson’s and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases, but above all the whole process of ageing.”

Wow.  Doesn’t exactly make you want to run to the fridge and grab a can, does it?

I’m a firm believer that darn near anything is OK, as long as it’s done in moderation.  Especially has it applies to weight loss and fitness.  But personally, I think this is enough for me to give up even the occasional can of soda that I drink now.

I value my mitochondria too much.

🙂

3 Things to Consider When Selecting an Eating Plan

May 28, 2007

I’ve come to believe that there is no one eating plan that is the best for everyone all of the time.

I do think that there are several eating plans out there that, if followed correctly and if coupled with the correct types of exercise, will lead to weight loss. So rather than tell you what eating plan you should be following, I’d like to give you 3 factors to consider when you are evaluating an eating plan.

  • Does it Contain Sound Nutrition Principals – in other words, is it a gimmicky plan or fad diet where you eat nothing but bananas for two days, then cabbage soup for three days, or some other such nonsense.
  • Is There Real Proof that it Works – you want an eating plan that real people have used successfully. If you’re looking at a full page ad in the back of a tabloid that promises 30 pounds gone in 30 days and has testimonials from names like Bob S or Nancy B (no last names, only initials), be careful! And remember that pictures don’t necessarily prove anything. A big diet company got in trouble when a fitness model they hired for before and after pictures got caught putting weight on FOR HER BEFORE PICTURE!
  • Does it Fit Your Personal Beliefs and Needs – This is vital! If you absolutely cannot stand to eat a lot of meat, than choosing Atkins would not do you any good. If you can’t stand to be hungry, than it would be a mistake to choose a plan that limits you to 3 small meals and no snacks over the course of a day. Choose wisely!

There are several good plans out there that will help you, but the key is to choose the one that works best for you. Following these 3 factors will help you get pointed in the right direction.

A Delicious, Healthy, Vegetarian Recipe

May 27, 2007

Every now and then, maybe every two weeks or so, I’ll plan a day where I eat no meat. For that day, I’ll get my protein from sources other than meat.

To be honest, I don’t remember what motivated me to begin this habit. What I do know, though, is that I usually feel pretty good physically when I skip the meat.

Now, I’m not saying that you should have meatless days every now and then, nor am I commenting on what some see as an ethical decision to eat meat or not. All I’m saying is this is something I do every so often.

If you’re interested in trying a meatless day, or if you’re just looking for a delicious new recipe to try, let me suggest the one below; it’s tasty, healthy, and relatively low cal.

Vegetable and Black Bean Tostadas

4 large flour tortillas (at least 8 inches in diameter)
Nonstick cooking spray or olive oil in mister
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
4 cups finely shredded leaf lettuce
2 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 medium ripe avocado

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray both sides of tortillas with cooking spray or oil. Place tortillas in single layer on two large baking sheets. Bake until golden and lightly colored, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until needed.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet. Add garlic and sauté over medium heat until golden, about 1 minute. Add beans and cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add broth and cilantro. Use potato masher to work beans into thick, chunky purée. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove skillet from heat, cover, and set aside.

3. Place lettuce and tomatoes in small bowl. Drizzle lime juice and remaining 1 tablespoon oil over salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss gently. Set salad aside.

4. With a sharp knife, cut avocado in half lengthwise. Twist halves apart, remove and discard pit, then use rubber spatula to scoop flesh from skins. Cut peeled avocado into long, thin strips.

5. To serve, place one tortilla on each serving plate. Spread some warm mashed beans over each tortilla. Layer several slices of avocado over each tortilla and then spoon some salad on top.

I don’t remember where we grabbed this recipe from, but I promise that it’s tasty.  And don’t be afraid of the avocado…that’s all healthy fat!

Enjoy.

🙂

 

On The Way Home

May 25, 2007

I’m flying home today for the holiday weekend.  Because of this, my posting may be a little spotty over the next couple of days.  I apologize in advance.

I hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day weekend.  Get out and move and enjoy yourselves!

Best wishes,

Brian

A Quick Way to Gauge Your Progress

May 24, 2007

There are several ways that you can measure your progress on the way to being fit and thin.  In addition to the scale(which I don’t recommend), you can tell you’re losing weight by the way your clothes fit, the way you look in the mirror and by the compliments you get from people around you.

But none of those things measure one of the most important things about losing weight…your fitness level.  Personally, I found that as I lost my weight I became even more interested in my health than in my appearance.  I hope that you do, too; if you’re motivated only by appearance, what do you do once you’ve lost the weight…will you lose your motivation?

Now, please know that I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get excited about your physical appearance changing, or that it shouldn’t motivate you.  There’s nothing wrong with that at all!  I just think you should have a way to gauge the improvement in your fitness level as well.

Here’s a quick way you can do jus t that:

A really simple way to gauge your fitness is the amount of time it takes your heart rate to return to normal after exercise.  Next time you exercise, right after your cool down (and I KNOW you have a cool down…right?), check your heart rate.  Wait 60 seconds, and then check it again.  In a perfect world, your heart should slow down about 12 beats a second.  The quicker it returns to normal, the better your fitness level. 

Start doing this with your next exercise session, and write it down.  Then measure your heart rate after every exercise session, and you should see a gradual improvement as your fitness level improves.

Be In It to Win It

May 23, 2007

How many times have you tried to lose weight and gave it up after a week or two?

Personally, I couldn’t count on both hands how many times I attempted to get fit and thin before I finally figured it out. And I imagine that a lot of you are in the same boat. The good news is that it doesn’t matter how times you’ve tried; you can and will be successful with just a couple of small tweaks.

I’ve come to believe that there are 4 things you must fully embrace in order for your weight loss efforts to succeed. I’d like to share these with you:

  1. You have to mentally make up your mind that getting fit and thin is the most important thing in the world to you, and you will overcome any obstacles that block you from your goal
  2. You must accept the fact that you need to make PERMANENT changes in how you are living your life. These changes don’t have to be drastic, rapid, or uncomfortable, but you do need to understand that if you continue to do the same things you’re doing now, you’ll continue to get the same results.
  3. Have someone you can count on for support and to help you be accountable. Be careful who you select for this role; even our best friends and our closest family may not really want to see you succeed. Choose wisely.
  4. Keep it simple! You have to have a simple plan that you can live with forever. Remember that if you jump into an eating plan that is too restrictive, or if your plan is calling for 2 hours of exercise a day, you’re not going to stick with it. The simpler, the better. If I may make a suggestion, go back through the archives of this blog and read the 10 weekly tips I posted suggesting easy and gentle things you can do to get you started losing weight.

Losing weight can be difficult enough. So why not get yourself in the right mindset by incorporating these 4 things into your mindset from the beginning?

Don’t B.S. Yourself

May 22, 2007

I got an interesting email from a reader today. The gist of this email is a theme I’ve heard before, and am sure I will hear again.

I want to lose weight but I can’t…it’s my genes.

Bull pucky.

Look, I agree that you can have a genetic tendency towards how much fat your body burns. I also think that people may have genetic tendencies towards how their bodies distribute fat. But as far as filling those fat genes…it’s all you, baby.

Fat genes be damned, genetic tendencies be damned; what you eat, how much you eat and how much (or little) you exercise is what determines your weight and what your body looks like. And YOU, not your genes, have 100% control over those factors.

If we look at ourselves as a society, we’ll see that the obesity rates are skyrocketing at 100 miles per hour. That’s not genetics, that’s a result of our habits, processed foods and portion sizes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s easy to lose weight and keep it off. What I’m saying is that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to lose weight if you won’t take responsibility for your own behaviors and are content to blame your genetics.

Now, having said all that, let me tell you that I believe that I have a genetic tendency towards being overweight. But every day, I chose to eat right and exercise. I may never look like a male model, but I like what I see in the mirror. Even more importantly, I wake up every day feeling GREAT. I have enough energy to play with my 2 year old grandson, work hard all day and still be a good husband to my wife.

You can have all that and more…as long as you don’t keep BS-ing yourself.

Want Another Reason to Avoid Processed Food?

May 21, 2007

If you’ve followed my thoughts on getting fit and thin for any amount of time, you are aware of my feelings about processed food. I HIGHLY recommend avoiding the stuff. Your best results for weight loss and health will come from eating whole, unprocessed foods.

Even though I know how bad the processed stuff is, I sometimes still get surprised by how bad it truly is. Today is one of those days.

If you’re looking for an interesting and educating read, pick up The Omnivore’s Dilemma: a Natural History of 4 Meals by Michael Pollan.

Wow.

The author traces 4 meals back to their origins, and it’s amazing what’s in the foods you may be eating. For example, one of the meals he traces is the chicken nuggets that you may pick up at that fast food restaurant with the clown and the golden arches. Just some chicken and a little bit of breading, right?

Wrong! There are actually 38 ingredients in one of those mcnuggets…38! And about 56% percent of that nasty little morsel is made of corn (don’t even get me wound up about corn and high fructose corn syrup…that’s a post for another day).

But you wanna know the worst thing of all? There are several synthetic ingredients that are made in a chemical plant or a petroleum refinery.

Yep, you read that right. Ingredients like dimethylpolysiloxene and tertiary butylhydroquinone; one is a carcinogen and the other causes nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, and delirium. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

I’ve recommended avoiding processed foods because of the effect on weight loss, but it turns out there’s even more important reasons to avoid some processed foods.

I, for one, refuse to eat a big helping of carcinogens. I recommend you giving the matter some thought…it’s that important.