“Weight” It Out?

By Marianna Boyce

scaleWeight is an issue that most every woman deals with at some point in life.  As we age, it tends to find a way to hang on for dear life!  It seems that the determination to maintain a healthy weight and consistent exercise routine is now a thought bubble somewhere in the back of my mind.  That thought bubble is filled with excuses, but none better than “I just can’t because my entire body hurts!”  Although this is a very good excuse in my book, I still need to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Before widespread joint pain aggressively reared its ugly head throughout my body, I was happy and healthy at 135 pounds.  These unusual symptoms suddenly took complete control of my life within a time span of merely fourteen days.  Diet and exercise was no longer a priority.

saladIn the kitchen, I was unable to cut, chop, peel, slice and dice, so preparing healthy meals at home was placed on the back burner, (no pun intended).  Fresh fruits and veggies were definitely off the menu.  I couldn’t do anything that required fine motor skills and dexterity due to the incredible pain being experienced in most every bending bone in my body.  In my unwanted new season of life, take-out was my “go to” because that was truly the best I could do!

Also prior to my unfortunate situation, I enjoyed a good workout several times a week but my exercise routine was also stopped dead in its tracks.  My knees, feet and ankles were very swollen and in excruciating pain so I could barely walk, much less exercise!

In an instant, my life was yanked from peaceful tranquility, and tossed into a horrible abyss that I refer to as “my alternate universe.”  I eventually saw an amazing rheumatologist here at LMC.  He helped me regain a somewhat normal life.   Praise the Lord for that!  He is my hero!

With the upcoming holidays, the comfort foods we have all grown accustomed are filled with more calories than our bodies know what to do with on any given day!  I also have two family reunions to attend before the end of the year!  Lord have mercy!  I cannot “weight” any longer.  I have to do something about it now.  I keep saying I’m going to but my “motivation meter”  is not set on high like it used to be.

stretchingI need to lose 20 pounds.  What about you?  Whether we need to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, let’s not “weight” it out!  Hopefully by the time we ring in the new year, we will already be on course. The hardest part is simply getting started!  I’ll keep you posted on progress or slip ups along the way.  Maybe sharing this with you will help me in my motivation department!

Visit my personal website, myalternateuniverseonline.wordpress.com to read about trying to reignite my exercise routine in 2016.  This story took place before I knew what was wrong with me.  It’s aptly titled, “It’s Time To Exercise the Demons!”  (Its about the fifth blog post down on the website.)  I would love for you to check it out.  It’s actually quite comical.  I will go ahead and share with you…it was a complete failure!  Pray for better results this time!  I am definitely going to need it! 

 Best of luck to you if you are planning to join me!

12 Strategies to Avoid Weight Gain This Holiday Season

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Santa Weigh-InWeight-wise, the holidays can pack a powerful punch. The amount may vary according to the study, but it’s a fact: the average American gains weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, as much as seven to ten pounds. This is horrible news to someone like me, who is not only trying to maintain a loss, but hoping to ring in 2014 a couple pounds lighter. Following are twelve strategies that I’ve used – some more successfully than others, I might add – to lose weight during the past few years. I’ve modified them a bit for the holiday season, and share them with you in hopes that you may find one or two that help you during this scrumptious season.

  1. Plan and Prepare:  Plan around holiday socials and celebrations. If your office is holding a potluck for lunch, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and plan on a lighter dinner. It’s especially important to prepare and pack healthy snacks and meals when you can to counteract the times when you can’t.
  2. Eat to Savor, Not to Stuff: Eat holiday favorites mindfully. Give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday foods you love, but eat them slowly while tasting and enjoying every bite. Practice the three-bite rule to keep your cravings in check. You’ll get that amazing first taste, a satisfying middle one, and then a lingering third bite.
  3. Relish the Experience: Food is such a big part of holiday celebrations, but it’s not the only thing. Enjoy your time with friends and family. Bring a board game. Start a new, non-food related holiday tradition.
  4. Think Before You Drink: Did you know that a 20-oz. eggnog latte has 620 calories? Punch, hot cider and eggnog can be high in calories, too. If these beverages are an important part of your celebration, enjoy them in moderation. Make water your standard drink of choice.
  5. Back Off the Booze: Cocktails, beer and wine not only have a high calorie count, but having too many can loosen your resolve and lead to overeating. If you indulge, drink slowly and drink plenty of water before and after.
  6. Keep a Healthy Arsenal: During the holiday, our offices are full of food. It’s hard to say no. To avoid temptation, bring a healthy snack like a small bag of almonds or a container of Greek yogurt to work.
  7. Move It: Increasing your physical activity level during the holidays is a straightforward and effective weight control strategy. If you already exercise, turn it up a notch during the holidays. Don’t exercise? Start. Even daily walks will help.
  8. Eat Before You Go: Never go to a celebration or big meal hungry. Drink a couple of glasses of water and eat some fruit or raw veggies before heading out. If you aren’t ravenous when you arrive, chances are you won’t inflict as much damage when you hit the buffet table.
  9. Bring Your Own Healthy:  You may not be able to control every menu, but you can bring a healthy dish to share. That way, you know there’s at least one thing you can enjoy guilt-free. Your hostess will always be grateful for another dish, and no one has to be any the wiser.
  10. Pace Yourself – It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is getting full. Set your fork down between bites, chew your food thoroughly and sip some water. Enjoy the company of the people around you at the party. Getting caught up in conversation is a great way to avoid overeating.
  11. Let It Go: If you do overindulge, let it go. Beating yourself up over a “slip” from healthy habit can set the stage for a full tumble off the wagon. Instead, focus on what you did right and compliment yourself. Return to healthy eating habits the next meal instead of blowing the rest of the day with the “I’ll start tomorrow” excuse.
  12. Go to Bed on Time: Sleep routines sometimes go haywire over the holidays. But recent research ties weight loss to keeping a regular sleep schedule, showing that those who go to sleep and wake up at regular hours have lower body fat than those who don’t.

Do you have a strategy to stay on a healthy track in the face of holiday temptation? Please share in the comments below so others can benefit.  Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

National Weight Control Registry Studies Successful Losers

 By: Mary Pat Baldauf

While doing some research for the blog and the Doctors Wellness Center (DWC), I was referred to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance.

Given the prevailing belief that few individuals succeed at long-term weight loss, the NWCR was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. The NWCR is tracking more than 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. The organization uses detailed questionnaires and annual follow-up surveys to examine the behavioral and psychological characteristics of weight maintainers, as well as the strategies they use to maintaining their weight losses.

You may find it interesting to know about the people who have enrolled in the registry thus far:

  1. 80% of persons in the registry are women and 20% are men.
  2. The “average” woman is 45 years of age and currently weighs 145 lbs, while the “average” man is 49 years of age and currently weighs 190 lbs.
  3. Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs. and kept it off for 5.5 years. These averages, however, hide a lot of diversity:
    1. Weight losses have ranged from 30 to 300 lbs.
    2. Duration of successful weight loss has ranged from 1 year to 66 years.
    3. Some have lost the weight rapidly, while others have lost weight very slowly–over as many as 14 years.
    4. 45% of registry participants lost the weight on their own and the other 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program.
    5. 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake to lose weight.
    6. 94% increased their physical activity. Walking was the most frequently reported form of activity.
    7. NWCR members keep the weight off through a variety of methods. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.
    • 78% eat breakfast every day.
    • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
    • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
    • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

National Weight Control Registry’s research has been featured in many national newspapers, magazines, and television broadcasts, including USA Today, Oprah magazine, The Washington Post, and Good Morning America.

Recruitment for the Registry is ongoing. The Registry seeks individuals 18 years of age or older who have maintained at least a 30 pound weight loss for one year or longer. Happily, I qualified, recently received the application, and just completed and returned it. As I start participating, I’ll let you know more about it! For now, look for information from their studies in coming weeks.

Be Prepared: Not Just for Boy Scouts

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

“To be prepared is half the victory.” — Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Spanish writer

Mary Pat Baldauf

When asked the secret of my success for the healthy lifestyle change that resulted in a 90-something lb. weight loss, I’d have to say preparation, hands down. Don’t get me wrong.  It took a village to transform my life:

  • A nutrition counselor to educate me on healthy eating, challenge me to try new things and coach me through the rough spots.
  • Personal trainers who carefully guided my workouts, helped me to know my potential (and limitations), and kept me motivated to exercise at 5 a.m.
  • Friends, family and co-workers who cheered me on, encouraged me on rough days and tolerated my newly found soapbox.
  • My employer, the City of Columbia, who not only introduced me to the Doctors Wellness Center program, but also paid for the first 12-weeks and a follow up maintenance period.

But the thing that tied all of those things together? Planning and preparation.

Here are five tips that made a difference in my journey.  In one way or another, they all go back to being prepared.  Any of these tips could really be a post on their own, but for convenience, I’ll give you the “Readers Digest Condensed Version:”

  1. Make a Weekly Menu Plan and Cook Ahead for the Week: To eat healthy, you can’t fly by the seat of your pants. Unless you’re superwoman (or have a chef), you can’t cook every day either. On Friday, I look at the coming week, make notes of special challenges and plan several items I can prepare ahead of time. Over the weekend, I make several dishes, pack one-serving portions and pop them in the fridge and/or freezer.  Soup, chili and bean dishes work especially well.
  2. Do Prep Work Ahead of Time: Let’s face it; some things just don’t lend themselves to pre-cooking and freezing. For that, I do as much as I can ahead of time – that cuts out quite a bit of time in the kitchen. One of my favorite recipes is Glazed Tofu. On Sundays, I mix a large batch of the sauce, divide it into portions and freeze it. The night before I want to cook it, I drain the tofu and pull out a sauce from the freezer. When I get home the next day, it’s as easy as throwing it on the stove.
  3. Expect the Unexpected: Ever pack a healthy lunch and leave it on the counter?  Or get stuck at your desk when you’d planned on eating healthy at home?  Keep healthy, non-perishable food in the car, the office and in your purse.  Bring several lunches for the work ‘fridge at the beginning of the week.  Eat something healthy before going to special events. At first, it’s hard to hone those clairvoyant skills, but soon it becomes second-nature.
  4. Take Your Show on the Road: Traveling for work or pleasure? With a little planning and creativity, you can do as well on the road as you do at home. Look at your itinerary and plan accordingly.  If some meals are provided, check the menu and don’t be afraid to make special requests.  Use the Internet to research area markets and grocery stores, restaurant menus and hotel amenities.  Pack non-perishables like peanut butter and raisins, as well as non-breakable containers and a set of utensils.
  5. Schedule Activity: Make exercise a priority. Schedule time on your calendar for it, and don’t let anything keep you from it. My job often requires me to attend evening meetings and events, so the best time for me to exercise is in the morning. Most weekdays, I’m at the gym between 5 and 5:30 a.m., back home in the shower by 7 a.m.  I’m not a morning person by nature, but with a little preparation, it’s not so bad. Don’t do mornings?  You don’t have to; just find your best time and work through the challenges that might stand in your way.

What changes have you made to accommodate a healthier lifestyle? Do you have a particular challenge you’re facing when it comes to improving your health?  How have you (or could you) prepare to meet that challenge?