Naples

5 Tips To Get Your Diet Back on Track After Vacation

While going on vacation is one of my favorite things, it can be the worst for staying on track with my fitness and nutrition goals. All the new restaurants (or old favorites when visiting a place you know), the general lack of a rigid structure that allows you to graze all day, etc. make it hard to stick to commitments around food and exercise.  Getting your diet back on track after vacation, is critical to ensure you meet your goals.

When I travel I am a little more laxed on my daily regimen, but I do my best to keep my workouts and nutrition in check. I prefer to rent an Airbnb or VRBO property, as it allows me to be able to do some sort of meal prep and eat a few meals at the house to help me stay on track with my nutrition goals (and, you can save a little bit of money by not eating out for every meal).

On our latest trip to Naples, Florida we took full advantage of hitting up our favorite spots.

We ate the world’s best tacos at Taqueria San Julian, donuts from Trackside, lights out Cuban food from Fernandez the Bull (Their coconut flan?! It’s probably a good thing I live on the other side of the country!), jalapeño wagyu burgers at Jimmy P’s, barbecue brisket and pulled pork from Mission BBQ, and the beloved ice cream & chocolate covered key lime pie from Sweet Melissa’s (which I may or may not dream about). 

We also had some really good meals at the house. We did steak and vegetables one night, I made my favorite egg white bake for multiple breakfast’s, and had some healthy snacks like fruits, veggies, and protein bars on hand. While we did an “ok” job of eating-in while on vacation, my body was definitely feeling the extra sugars, oils and sodium that it isn’t used to from all that processed food.

As we are coming into the vacation months and things are starting to open up more and more, I decided that I would share 5 tips to get back on track after vacation as many of you will probably be taking vacations soon too. These tips don’t apply to just vacations either, you can use these tips to get back on track at any time! 

5 Tips to Get Your Diet Back on Track After Vacation

1. Whatever You Do, DO NOT Weigh Yourself!

Look, if you are feeling gross, bloated and sluggish, you don’t need a scale to confirm it. Getting on that scale will more than likely put you in a bad mood and can trigger your behavior spiral out of control and send you into a binge (raise your hand if you have been here?! I know I have, which is why I’m choosing not to post my next weekly weigh in until this next Thursday, a whole week after we’ve been home from our trip). And, most of the “weight” you gain will be in the form of water weight anyway (unless it was like a five year vacation…) so why beat yourself up over it? Which leads us to our next tip… 

2. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

You DO NOT need to shock your body out of vacation mode or “work off” those maple donuts you ate. You DO NOT need to do five hour workout sessions all week to get back on track, or mentally abuse yourself with negative thoughts about how you should have done things differently. There is absolutely nothing positive that will come of this behavior. It happened, own it, accept it, even allow yourself love that you were able to have the experience and eat such tasty food and then move forward focusing on what is in front of you, not looking back at the “would have, could have, should have.” 

3. Increase Your Water Consumption 

Increasing the amount of water you drink when you return from your trip helps get your body back on track. There are soooo many benefits to increasing your water intake, starting with getting those kidney’s working and flushing out anything leftover from your vacay. This can help remove a lot of that sodium you are holding onto, as you replace it with better, healthier food and beverage choices. 

Water also helps you work off that “vacation fog” by increasing your energy and relieving fatigue. This allows you to get back into the swing of things faster. You can also work in some apple cider vinegar drinks (I love the Kevita Sparkling pro-biotic drinks! Meyer Lemon is my favorite!) to mix things up if you want.

4. Start/Continue Your Workout Plan

The best time to restart your fitness plan was yesterday. The second best time is today. So whether you are looking to engage in a new workout plan or pick up where you left off on your previous plan, getting back to the gym (or your home workout space) with a clear direction will help you get back into the habit and reach your goals much faster. Check out this stair workout plan, this abs/core workout plan, or this “back day” workout plan to give you an idea of where to start. 

5. Eat Real Food

I do not believe in extreme dieting, juice cleanses or crazy restrictive detoxes. Sure you can see immediate results from these, but they don’t last, and give you a false sense of what to expect as you stick to your nutrition strategy. When you get back, start eating real, whole unprocessed foods as quickly as possible. Don’t continue the “vacation eating” for weeks (Yes, I know, easier said than done). 

While spending a day doing food prep might be the last thing you want to do after sitting poolside all week, your body will thank you! If you find yourself dreading getting back into food prep, look for things that you can use that are already prepared for you that you can work into your eating (like those cooked rotisserie chickens at the store) until you get back into the swing of things.

I know that transition away from vacation mentality can feel like climbing a major mountain. But you can do it! Take a moment to remind yourself why you want to be living your healthiest strategy, and nurturing the habits that go along with that. Then, to borrow from a popular brand of our day, “Just do it”. Don’t overthink things. Don’t look back. Just sprint forward with your plan, take action. Then you will find that your vacation inflammation will correct itself in no time!

Anyway, that’s it for today! Talk to you soon.


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Week 9 Weigh in: Milestone Week! 10 Pounds Lost!

There’s something so satisfying about adhering to a strategy which leads you to an end goal! With every passing day of following the weight loss rules, and not caving to the unplanned food temptations, my confidence in my abilities continues to strengthen. I’m happy to say that this was one of those weeks that my focus on the necessary tasks was greater than my focus on the distractions. Trust me, the distractions were still there. I successfully refrained from eating the pizza, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, and soda, that the rest of my crew enjoyed for my oldest child’s 13th birthday! But the resounding “No!” in my head was loud enough to help me keep my sights set on the actions (or inactions) that I really wanted to be taking. And, despite my injury from last week I was able to work in some additional exercises into my fitness plan!

I’m happy with the baby steps that I took, this week, and the progress that I achieved from those baby steps! I was able to push myself past the self-inflicted plateau from the last two weeks!

Let’s get right to these results, shall we?

End of Week 9 Before and After Pictures:

(Maybe I should have brushed my hair and fixed my pony tail after my workout, this morning. Oh well. What you see is what you get!)

Week 9 Food Journal:

I’m happy to say that I stayed within a strategic calorie and macronutrient range, this week. My carbohydrate intake, each day, fell anywhere between 90 grams and 110 grams. So on the high end of my goal range, but still close enough that I’m totally ok with it. I practiced and succeeded at saying “no” to all of the sneaky little food temptations. It feels good to have a week behind me where I followed my plan as intended!

Here’s my food journal from last Friday. Just remember that I don’t always log my food in the order it was consumed. But the foods and quantities are accurate.

The remaining food journal entries can be found at the bottom of this post.

Week 9 Bioelectrical Impedance Results:

Do you remember back in week 4 when I seriously questioned the accuracy of my Inbody assessments results? I believe the same thing happened in last week’s assessment, where I got to experience the machine’s 4% margin of error. In the results, below, I’m going to go ahead and give you a comparison of both last week, and the week before (just as I did in Week 5’s results post).

Here goes…

My total body weight: 133.8 lbs (Decrease of 2.5 pounds since last week, but decrease of 0.9 lbs if we are comparing this week to week seven. I don’t doubt that my total body weight was right, last week. But I don’t think that the different aspects of my body composition were right. I’ve had a total decrease of 9.1 lb. since start date).

Breaking my total body weight down into different categories of body composition:

  • Total Body water: 79.1 lbs (Decrease of 3.6 lbs since last week, but increase of 0.6 lbs compared to week seven. Total of 0.8 lbs. increase since start date).
  • Dry lean mass: 29.3 lbs. (Decrease of 1.4 lbs. since last week, but increase of 0.4 lbs. compared to week seven. Increase of 0.2 lbs. since first weigh in. Remember that this includes muscle, organs, and bone minus any fluid)
  • Body fat mass: 25.4 lbs. (This was a 2.5 lb. increase from last week, and 1.9 lb. decrease compared to week seven. Total of 10.1 lbs. of fat lost since start date!)
  • Skeletal muscle mass: 60.8 lbs (Decrease of 2.9 lbs. from last week, and increase of 0.6 lbs. of muscle compared to week seven. Total of a 0.8 lb increase in muscle since start date).
  • BMI: 23 (Decrease of 0.4 from last week, and decrease of .1 compared to week seven. Total decrease of BMI is 1.8 since start date)
  • Body fat percentage: 18.9% (This increased by 2.1% from last week, and decreased by 1.4% compared to week seven. Total of 5.9% decrease in body fat percentage since start date.)
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 1433 calories (This decreased by 47 calories.)
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): 2099 calories (Because my exercise capacity still isn’t all the way up to what it was before my back injury, my maintenance calories are decreased by a couple hundred.)
  • Calorie target range for weight loss: 1560 calories (I’m keeping this target range the same)

Week 9 Measuring Tape Results:

  • Right calf (measured at widest part): 14 1/4 inches (Decreased 1/4 inch from last week, and down 2 1/2 inch from first measurement)
  • Right thigh (measured at widest part): 21 7/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week, and down 11/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Hips (measured at widest part): 38 1/4 inches (Down 1/4 inch from last week, Down 4 3/4 inches from first measurement)
  • Butt (measured at widest part): 37 1/4 inches (Down 1/8 since last week. Down 2 1/8 inch from first measurement.)
  • Right below my muffin top: 34 1/8 inches (Down 1/4 inch from last week, and down 1 3/4 inch from first measurement)
  • Waistline (measured across belly button): 33 1/8 inches (Down 3/8 from last week, and down 2 1/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Chest (measured at widest part): 36 3/4 inches (Down 1/8 since last week. Down 1 inch from first measurement.)
  • Shoulders (measured at widest part): 40 inches (Same as last week. Down 1/2 inch from first measurement)
  • Biceps: (measured at widest part): 11 1/4 inches (Same as last week, and down 1/4 inch from first measurement).

This is what my workouts looked like:

My back was feeling good enough by Tuesday of this week, so that’s when I began reintroducing exercises more than just walking. I’m so thankful for the quick recovery!

Summary:

Although my total body weight has decreased by 9.1 pounds from the beginning of this journey, I have put on close to 1 lb of muscle. I care less about the total body weight decrease than I do about the body fat mass decrease. After all, the ultimate goal is to shed fat and not weight! This is why we get to celebrate the 10 pounds lost milestone today!

This week feels like a win! We see success in our goals when we push past the distractions and the set backs! I’m feeling really optimistic about my abilities to stick to the plan. I’m even kind of excited to go a few weeks without an indulgence meal, because I know that I’m also erasing the battle (wanting to keep eating the non-strategic foods at un-planned times) that comes after the indulgence meal is over.

Can’t wait to see the progress that this next week brings!

Talk to you soon!


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Food journal from the rest of the week:

Saturday, February 27:

Sunday, February 28:

Monday, March 1:

Tuesday, March 2:

Wednesday, March 3

Thursday, March 4 (today):

fitness plan fitness plan fitness plan fitness plan fitness plan

Chronicles of the two voices inside my head, installment #2 – Before the Cheat meal

Client Amy:

Today, this feels hard!

Trainer Amy:

Okay we’re going to need to get a bit more specific than that! What feels hard?

Client Amy:

I am in food prison! I just want to eat and not think or care about the nutritional value of what is going into my mouth! In fact, this is feeling daunting enough that I even took a bite of my kid’s pizza and had like eight spoonfulls of homemade Mac and cheese, yesterday!

Trainer Amy:

Okay, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve been very diligent in your nutritional approach for over two weeks now. That’s huge! That is a long time to stick with a strict regime when before that you were eating whatever your taste buds desired.

Remember that in order to meet specific goals, we need to follow specific rules to get to that point. You’re following a specific nutrition strategy which, you have seen, is actually working to change your body composition for the better.

Let’s pause and look at the bigger picture for a minute. Tell me, what do you feel you are doing well within this process?

Client Amy:

Okay… well… I’ve planned, food prepped, and stuck with a meal plan for two whole weeks. Even though it has felt like a lot of work, I do see the value in those efforts as they’ve helped me stay the course. I’ve also diligently logged my food intake each day. I usually hate food journaling, but doing so is helping to keep me on track. Also, I’ve exercised about 5 times each week, and a few of those days I’ve done two workouts!

Trainer Amy:

That’s awesome! Those are all habits which will lead you to success. Now, tell me what areas you feel like you can improve in your weight loss process?

Client Amy:

Well… For starters, I had those unplanned bites of “non-strategic” foods yesterday…

Trainer Amy:

OK, let’s talk about that. Was that your first unplanned food indulgence? Where did you end up in your calorie and macronutrient targets for the day?

Client Amy:

Yes, that was my first time eating something that wasn’t in my plans. I really tried not to be obsessive about it once I had a little taste. Ya know, “let it go”, “brush it off”, “quickly stay the course on my food plan”, and all. But I did manage to stay under 1700 calories. The only hiccup with my macronutrients were that my carbohydrates landed around 40 grams higher than I intended (Stupid Pasta!).

Trainer Amy:

Let’s celebrate this! Yes, you took a few unplanned bites of food, but you didn’t turn that into a binge-fest, and you stayed under your calorie goal! You should totally feel good about those things! Did you enjoy those tastes of pizza and homemade Mac and cheese?

Client Amy:

Yes! It was just enough to be able to enjoy the flavor without eating too much to carry frustration and guilt! Thanks for pointing that out!

Trainer Amy:

You’re welcome! Are there any other areas that you feel like you can do a little better in to take your efforts to the next step?

Client Amy:

Perhaps adding more foods to my weekly meal plan that will help me get enough potassium and iron so that I don’t worry about supplementing. Also, not beating myself up when I do happen to miss a day of working out.

Trainer Amy:

We can work on that the potassium and iron foods, no problem. But yes, be kind to yourself! If you are unkind to yourself you will lose your focus on why you’re taking on this journey. You’ll have negative feelings toward the process, and lose your desire to continue to push through. This is a journey of self love, where you are learning to instill habits which will help you feel your best both physically and mentally. You’re human. There’s room in life for “oopses”. Just as you did with the pizza and Mac and cheese, you pick yourself up immediately and keep placing one foot in front of the other. And you’re doing that! Have you seen how your body has changed over that last two weeks? Between following your nutrition strategy and doing your five days a week of exercise you are making progress!

You say that you feel like you’re in food prison. Let’s remember that you have a planned indulgence meal in three days. You’ve already made it through 19 days sticking to your eating strategy. Let’s talk about the indulgence meal, and review what the rules around that are.

Client Amy:

Uggggggh…. More rules!

Trainer Amy:

I know, I know, but rules are the safety nets which help us meet our ultimate goals! Rules are our friend. We become our best self when we adhere to rules!

First, we don’t call this a cheat meal because cheating has a negative connotation. Cheating is being dishonest and disloyal. When it is planned out, you aren’t being disloyal to your plan, it’s literally built in! There is a plan in place which invites you to have a meal which helps you feel a little bit more free. You can eat anything that you want, all within your set hour. Itching for those Crumbl cookies? Go for it! More Mac N Cheese? Down it! Really! Whatever you want, eat it! No measuring! No Tracking! In fact, I discourage you from journaling because we are working on being balanced and not obsessive about the numbers.

Doing this also acts as a psychological break. Listen to your body through this meal. Be super mindful, slow down, and stop when you feel like you’ve had enough food. But don’t make yourself sick! Remember that this will not be the last time you get to have these foods! Beginning this next week, you get to have an indulgence meal every week, if you want! Once your indulgence hour is over, you’re right back to your weight loss nutrition plan for the next seven days.

With all this in mind, will you commit to three more days without any food indulgences?

Client Amy:

Yes, I know I can do that. And I can commit to giving the indulgence meal the respect it deserves.

Trainer Amy:

Awesome! Let’s review your “why’s?”. Tell me the reasons that you’re working on losing weight.

Client Amy:

  1. I want to be my healthiest, eliminate gross tummy aches, feel my best.
  2. I want to eliminate risk of developing cancer and heart conditions that run in my family.
  3. I want to have energy to play with my very active boys.
  4. I want to feel my best in my own skin, and like the way that my clothes fit on me.
  5. I want to teach the world that this process works, and is totally doable (even for those with binge eating tendencies).
  6. I want to inspire others to make their own healthy lifestyle changes.

Trainer Amy:

Is this enough to help you focus on three more days of intentional food intake before your planned indulgence meal.

Client Amy:

Yes. My head is in the right place. I’m excited for the additional progress I’ll see on weigh in/measurement day on Thursday morning. I’m also excited to show myself that I can last all the way until Friday evening before eating my indulgence meal.

Trainer Amy:

You’ve got this! I can’t wait to hear all about that indulgence meal! Talk to you soon!


Want more info on indulgence meals? Check out this link from the University of Colorado.

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Week 2 weigh in: This is why women shouldn’t weigh themselves weekly

Let me start by saying I am actually enjoying this blogging process far more than I anticipated. I feel like I’m back in those days of having a tiny little baby. Do you remember feeling so excited to see your newborn baby in the morning, or when they woke up from a nap? This experience can’t even compare to that on the same level, but I am catching glimpses of that same excitement of nurturing a little one. My thoughts are dominated with, “what am I going to write about today?” and “how can I best share what’s in my mind and heart on the topics of weight loss, fitness, and nutrition so that it can help someone else on their own journey?” I’m learning my limits, and working to implement systems. One of the systems that I’m implementing, moving forward, is to make Thursdays my weekly results post days. I’ve actually been taking my measurements on Thursdays through this whole process, I’m just moving up the day that I “reveal” my weekly results.

Now, I’m really excited about this week’s weigh in because I get to show you what the real process of weight loss looks like, and why the scale isn’t our best measure of progress. This week, I’ve followed the plan to a “T” (What a weird phrase… I should research why “a T” means exactness…) and I actually weigh more than I did last week. It is at this point that many people get discouraged and assume their efforts aren’t working. But the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. The information we get from the scale is simply the total weight of our body. Most scales won’t tell you all of the different components contributing to our total weight such as body fat, muscle mass, water weight, bone/dry lean mass, etc. (You can actually purchase a “smarter scale” such as the Renpho scale which will measure your weight, BMI, body fat content, and muscle mass. It will also store your biometrics (aka measurements, in an app on your phone.) I’m a firm believer that women should only step on a scale once a month, unless you have one of these more advanced scales to give you more specific information.

There are a few factors that might contribute to why you have increased your total weight even if you’ve been following all the rules for weight loss.

  1. You might be retaining water at certain stages in their menstrual cycle.
  2. You might have increased your muscle mass.
  3. You might have had an indulgence meal, or eaten a higher carbohydrate quantity than normal and you’re retaining a bit of extra water.
  4. You might have had a drink of water close to your weigh in.

I believe my water weight is up this week for all of these reasons except the third. I’m happy to say that I have stuck to my plan, and have not had an indulgence meal or increased carbohydrates.

Now on to my weekly results.

First we start with the before and after pictures from the last two weeks:

End of week 2: Before and After pictures

Here is my food journal from myfitnesspal from last Saturday. The rest of the week’s food journal pictures will be shared at the end of this post. For the most part, I followed the week 2 meal plan. Although, I believe that most days I ate one less meal than was suggested on the meal plan. Just like last week, the food may have been logged in a different order than it was actually consumed. But the food quantities are correct.

Week 2 bioelectrical impedence assessment results:

Breaking my total body weight down into different categories of body composition:

My total body weight: 139.8 lbs (That’s up a half a pound since last week! Total of 3.1 lbs. lost since start date).

  • Total Body water: 79.5 lbs. (This actually increased by a whole pound. Total of 1.2 lb. increase since start date).
  • Dry lean mass: 29.7 lbs. (Increase of .7 lbs. Remember that this includes muscle and bone minus any fluid)
  • Body fat mass: 30.6 lbs. (1.1 lbs less than last week. Total of 4.9 lbs. lost since start date)
  • Skeletal muscle mass: 60.8 lbs. (Increase of .4 lbs from last week. Total of .8 lb. increase in muscle since start date)
  • BMI: 24 (Thanks to increased water weight and muscle, this actually increase by .1, this week. Total BMI decrease of .5 since start date)
  • Body fat percentage: 22% (Decrease of .8 from last week. Total of 2.8% decrease in body fat percentage since start date.)
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 1438 calories. (This actually increased by 15 calories, meaning I burn an extra 15 calories per day at rest!)
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): 2232 calories.  (Because my BMR increased, this number increased by 33 calories from last week)
  • Calorie target range for weight loss: 1700 calories. (I decided to decrease last week’s target of 1800 calories to 1700 calories. I never ate over 1700 calories in a day, besides today (but I did workout twice today, so I felt like I needed a little bit more). I was plenty satiated, and never felt deprived staying between 1500 and 1700 calories per day. Also, I’m anticipating an indulgence meal at the end of this next week, so I kind of want to be conservative throughout the rest of the week and not stretch to the top of my calorie range).  

Week 2 measuring tape results:

  • Right calf (measured at widest part): 14 1/2 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week, and down 1/4 inch from first measurement)
  • Right thigh (measured at widest part): 22 5/8 inches (Down 1/4 inch from last week, and down 3/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Hips (measured at widest part): 39 7/8 inches (Down 1/4 inch from last week, Down 3 3/8 inches from first measurement. I’m still highly convinced that the first week’s measurement was a measuring tape user error. I might just go off of week 1’s hip measurements moving forward.).
  • Butt (measured at widest part): 38 1/2 inches (This measurement stayed the same from last week. Down 7/8 inches from first measurement.)
  • Right below my muffin top: 35 5/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week, and down 1/4 inch from first measurement)
  • Waistline (measured across belly button): 34 5/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from last week, and down 3/4 inch from first measurement)
  • Chest (measured at widest part): 37 ¾ inches (no change here since the beginning. The ladies aren’t wanting to budge. I’m a tiny bit surprised by this…but my hubby is happy!)
  • Shoulders (measured at widest part): 40 3/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from first measurement)
  • Biceps: (measured at widest part): 11 5/8 inches (Down 1/8 inch from first measurement).

This is what my workouts looked like:

My rest day was Sunday, and I ended up skipping a workout on Monday. I made up for it by doing two workouts today.

That’s it for today. Progress is being made. I love the way that I feel with all of these healthy and delicious meals I’ve been eating. I’m feeling focused and ready to tackle another week. The one thing I am going to focus on improving upon is getting around 8 hours of sleep. I’ve been falling short at 6 hours most nights of the week. Here’s to self improvement, and taking it one step at a time!

Talk to you soon! (In case you care to see what I ate the rest of the week, it’s posted at the bottom:

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Sunday:

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday (today):

(I did an intermittent fast, today, so I didn’t actually eat until lunch time. But I still consumed plenty of food!)

Finding your “Why”?

The following content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Have you ever paused to take a look at your family’s health history? I was required to do an assignment for a college nutrition course where I gathered information for my own “health genome”. This informs of any health issues in siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I was supposed to make a report of any known instances of cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease (heart diseases, high cholesterol, etc), type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, eating disorders, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, my extended family on both sides is HUGE! My mom was one of seven children, and my dad is one of seventeen children (yes, you read that right! Three of those are half siblings). As I began to pull in health information from as many of them as possible, I learned that three of my four grandparents experienced adverse heart conditions. Of my 22 aunts and uncles, there are six known cases of various types of cancer, a good handful of pre-cancerous polyps, a high number of them are on blood pressure medication, and there are a handful of other recurring medical conditions among the bunch…

I’ve lived over 3/4 of my life without my mom alive. She passed away in a car accident when I was young and this has had a profound effect on how I view life with my family. From this, I am highly motivated to do everything I can so that my own kids don’t have to experience the same loss. Knowing that my own chances for developing a variety of health conditions are high, I find myself wanting to do everything in my power to be my healthiest. There are many good reasons for wanting to lose weight, but in my opinion, working towards optimal health is the best reason of all.

Before I go on, I want to make sure to stress that I realize that sometimes these things just happen. Sometimes we develop health conditions for reasons that we don’t understand. I assure you, I pass zero judgement upon anyone for their unfortunate health circumstances. But I do know that there are actions that we can take to reduce our risk of developing such conditions.

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

– Hippocrates (460-370 BC)

The following are a list of the top chronic conditions that we have the ability to reduce the risk of developing based on our diet choices:

Obesity

The United States is facing a major obesity epidemic. With our over abundance of “quick grab food” options at the drive through, the processed foods in the grocery store, and the lack of physical activity (perhaps due to too much Netflix binging?) it’s a no brainer that America’s waistline is expanding at an alarming rate.

Check out these facts about obesity from the CDC:

  • The prevalence of obesity was 42.4% in 2017~2018. [Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief]
  • From 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. [Read CDC NCHS data brief]
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. [Read guidelinesexternal icon]
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 US dollars; the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read paperexternal icon]

Obesity-related conditions including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, are the leading causes of preventable, premature death (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2013). 

Obesity can be decreased or overcome through these effective tips:

  • Choose to eat foods which are low in saturated fat
  • Choose food and beverages which are low in added sugar
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce intake of fatty meats, processed foods, and foods with high salt content
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (or not at all)

Heart Disease

Heart disease includes blood vessel disease (coronary artery disease), heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), heart valve disease, disease of the heart muscle, and heart infections. These diseases can lead to larger complications such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, peripheral artery disease, or sudden cardiac arrest. The good news is that many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices!

The Mayo Clinic has a hefty list of recommendations for avoiding heart disease, but we’ll just focus on the dietary recommendations:

  • Control your portion sizes
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • East more whole grains
  • Limit unhealthy fats (no more than 5-6% of total calories from saturated fat & NO trans fats); monounsaturated fats are preferred
  • Choose low fat protein sources such as fish, lean meat, legumes, and low fat dairy products
  • Reduce sodium intake (no more than 1500 mg per day)
  • Plan and create menus ahead of time
  • Treat yourself on occasion

Cancer

Decades of research have effectively demonstrated that diet can directly affect cancer risk. Some of the foods we eat, such as red meat, salt, and highly processed food, have been shown to heighten the risk of developing cancer. While cancer can be developed by genetics and environment, these two factors usually amount to smaller than 30% of one’s lifetime risk of getting cancer. We have control of the majority of factors that help in reducing risk of cancer. These dietary recommendations are associated with a lower incidence of cancer rates:

  • Eat foods high in anti-oxidants. These come in the form of our bright colored fruits and veggies (i.e. dark green leafy kale, orange bell pepper or fruit, purple beets, red tomatoes, etc.)
  • Eat low glycemic foods (This article from medicinenet.com will teach you about the glycemic index, and what a low glycemic food is); High glycemic foods are associated with greater risk of developing certain types of cancer
  • Increase your dietary calcium intake (Foods highest in calcium: dairy products, dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, fortified cereals and fortified orange juice)
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Type 2 Diabetes

The connection between Type 2 diabetes and diet is overwhelming (There is a small number of occurrences where type 2 diabetes is caused through genetics, or occur naturally). Both type 2 diabetes and obesity are strongly tied with each other, and are both influenced by dietary choices. Sedentary lifestyles and dietary habits are both the cause of rapidly increasing rates of Type 2 diabetes. Rapid and substantial weight gain, combined with high quantities of added sugar in food and drinks play a major role in developing Type 2 diabetes. The dietary recommendation for preventing type 2 diabetes is to consume a diet low in added sugar and total calories


What would it be worth to you to conduct your own personal family medical research to identify and work to avoid these health conditions? What if you were to find out for yourself that you have effectively eliminated your own risk of developing obesity, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes by living your healthiest lifestyle? So here’s your homework, if you’re able, go call your grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, and siblings (they’ll love catching up with you!), compile a list of all of the health challenges they are facing (this will help you to identify the risks that you are up against). Then go and implement the health recommendations to overcome your specific risks. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

An awesome side effect of eating more fruits and veggies, avoiding processed foods and added sugars, and all of the other above recommendations, will be the weight that you will lose in the process!

Let’s do this! Let’s make our “why” to be the healthiest version of ourselves!

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Why is losing weight so hard?! Or is it…?

I get it. Losing weight can seem like you’re climbing a 14,000 foot high mountain. As you stand at the base of the towering rock, you wonder how in the world will you ever survive making it to the top. Now, I will be the first to tell you that your own weight loss journey will most likely not be easy, but it will be extremely rewarding. New habits will be created while old habits are purged. You will have to face sacrificing the “old” way you did things in favor of creating a “new” you. Through all of this, thinking about the length of time you’re required to commit to the process can seem daunting, overwhelming and even so heavy, you simply won’t start! And believe me, there have been many times where I have done just that! I gave up. I gave in. I felt so hopeless it was depressing. But, as you get your mindset adjusted, just like climbing that 14,000 foot mountain (we call them 14’ers here in Colorado), it begins with your first step.

Here are a few of the weight loss processes that I’ve felt discomfort from in the last twelve days of this project:

  • Creating the habit of a daily food journal
  • Saying “No!” to the chocolate chips that are in the cupboard, or the stock pile of soda in the fridge, or sugar cereal in the pantry.
  • The slow pace
    • Only being twelve days into this project (That’s it!?!? I swear it seems like it’s been months already).
    • Not seeing a distinct visible change…yet (It can often take a week or two for you to notice your own change, and up to a month before other people start to see it as well).
    • Acknowledging that I still have months of work ahead of me
  • Knowing that I still need to go a little longer before I allow myself my first indulgence meal.
    • Thinking ahead to my indulgence meal, fearing that I’ll allow it to be a binge session rather than a reasonable reset meal.
  • Meal planning
  • Meal prepping (It makes me grumpy how long it takes!)
  • Eating the same thing multiple days in a row
  • The changes to my body as it is adapting, such as detox headaches, lack of energy, acne break outs on my face, needing to pee ALL. THE. TIME. (TMI?)

I could sit here and give an explanation for why we have to go through each of these things (and more), but that’s not what this post is all about. This post is intended to show you that you CAN push through the discomforts of the weight loss process.

Let’s talk about mindset. What does that even mean? Trusty old Miriam-Webster defines mindset as a mental attitude or inclination or a fixed state of mind. This being the case, we need to first dig deep and hear what our thoughts have previously been telling us about how we feel about the weight loss process. If those thoughts are what have kept you away from embracing the work to lose weight, then acknowledge that. This might require you to call yourself out on the fact that you had a previously fixed state of mind which was against doing the work required. Have you heard of the six stages of behavior change? These stages are:

  • The first stage of change is known as the Pre-contemplation stage. In this stage, you might not even realize, or you straight out deny that there is anything that needs changed about your current behavior. This is where you might be unaware (blissfully or otherwise), that you have habits or behaviors that aren’t doing you any favors.
  • The second stage of change is the Contemplation stage. In this stage, you have become aware that there are benefits to making a change. But you are also aware that these changes will come at some sort of a cost. You might be hindered by your awareness of the sacrifices you’ll have to make in order to make the change. You might “hang out” in the contemplation stage for quite a while as you work to wrap your head around the work required towards self-improvement. You’ll weigh out the pros and cons, and at the end of this stage, you’ll finally make the commitment towards the change, which you believe will help you improve.
  • The third stage of change is known as the Preparation stage. Here, you begin the process for change. Since our focus is weight loss, you might take steps like joining a gym, hiring an online personal trainer, throwing out the non-strategic foods from your pantry, adding a few extra veggies to your shopping list, write goals or motivational quotes on your mirror in dry-erase marker, and join support groups, etc. You might work to learn new ways to alter your behavior in this stage (Perhaps since you’re hanging out with me here in “self-improvement blog land”, you’re finding this is the exact stage you’re in?).
  • The fourth stage of change is the Action stage. This is the point that you’re all in with your efforts. You understand the processes required of you, and you are working hard to make consistent efforts (Notice that I don’t say that you’re working for perfection, just consistency). It’s important to point out that many people find themselves retreating to their old ways after only a few weeks in the action stage. (This is why all of the regular gym goers love the last week of January. At this point of the year, all of the “New Years Resolutioners” have cleared out by then, and it’s less crowded on the gym floor). This can be avoided by making sure that you mentally work through each of the previous steps before “going all in” on a new goal. Make sure that you are also rewarding yourself for the efforts you are taking. I had a grand idea recently, that for every day I comply with my nutrition and exercise strategy, I would put $2 into a jar. Then either monthly, or when my goal is met, I can go and buy myself something fun. I have yet to act on this, though. I guess it’s still sitting in the contemplation stage until I’ve processed it enough to move the idea up to the preparation stage.
  • The fifth stage of change is the Maintenance phase. Here, you are in the habit of continually avoiding former behaviors and consistently acting on new behaviors. You have systems in place which help you to avoid the temptations of breaking your goals. You are replacing old habits with more productive and positive ones. Once again, rewarding yourself is a useful tool to help you continue to maintain your efforts. If (or dare I say when) you have set backs, you’re kind to yourself. You quickly get up, brush yourself off, and are back to work. You understand that your efforts are not sabotaged by one slip up, allowing yourself to continue recognizing the positive behaviors that you’ve been exhibiting. This stage is really empowering as you’re able to recognize that you have changed yourself from your old ways, and you are able to continue making progress in your efforts.
  • The sixth stage of change is Relapse. That’s not what you want to hear when you feel like you’ve made it to the top with maintenance, is it? Since you’re human, this is part of the process. In any behavior that we are working to change, it can be a common eventuality that one experiences a relapse. When this happens, you might find yourself frustrated, disappointed, wanting to quit altogether. But don’t! You can’t allow these hiccups to undermine your self-confidence. If a relapse happens, call a time out, and dig deep to understand why it happened. What was the trigger? How did you entertain the trigger to hang around with you? How can you avoid such trigger as you continue on your journey? The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep going in your efforts in the preparation, action and maintenance stages of change.

Where do you find yourself on this list? What do you need to do to move yourself up to the next stage of change? What are you going to commit to in moving yourself forward with your weight loss efforts?

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