Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Truth Behind Losing Weight

Lately I've been reading all over the web about the Dancing with the Stars participants. How many of them have lost weight. The most recent is Ricki Lake. The (arguably) most celebrated celebrity is Kirstie Alley.

Anyone who keeps up on this sort of thing (like me) knows both these women have gained and lost weight over the years (also considered "yo-yo dieting"). In other words, they may be famous, but they're just like everyone else. Their bodies respond to what they eat and the exercising they do (or don't do).

I'm not surprised they're losing weight quickly. Dancing is physically demanding. If you do it eight hours a day for weeks on end, you're going to lose a lot of weight, and need to eat more calories to compensate.

Here is the problem for most of these celebrities once they are no longer participating in the DWTS show: when they stop dancing, the weight is likely to return. Why? Because they will be used to eating the same amount of calories they consumed while on a physically grueling schedule, but they will have stopped the hours they've spent dancing.

This is why it's best not to go too gung-ho when beginning an exercise routine. If you start off exercising two hours a day five times a week, you may find yourself increasing your calorie intake. Bodies love carbs and protein to keep them running. But when you taper off exercising (and this is more likely the case then not), you might not taper off in your calorie intake. Why? Because your body becomes used to the calorie intake.

My advice? First of all, attempt to snack on healthier fare such as bananas and blueberries when you start out exercising. Slowly increase your workouts from 30 minutes to 2 hours so your body can adequately adjust. If you are starving after a workout, fill up with lettuce sprinkled with feta cheese and a small amount of vinaigrette. Do not think you can go for the double cheeseburger at Mickey D's. You may have burned off 300 calories, but why consume 400 or more afterward?

Get your body used to the workouts, and have a healthy snack with a little protein afterward to help muscles recuperate. But don't think you can eat more because you are working out. In fact, try to keep your calories at or below where they were before you began an exercising routine. (This is if you are looking to shed pounds, not maintain the weight you are at.) Don't overdo the workouts. You aren't trying to starve yourself. Hungry people grab whatever is available to them with no regard to calories or fat grams. I speak from experience!

Good luck, and drop me a line if you end up on Dancing with the Stars.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's in Your Pantry Part 2

I'm on a healthy eating kick. Why? Because I'm getting plump in the rump these days, and I think it's because I'm consuming a lot of junk. Granted, my choice of junk food would be health food to people who gulp down handfuls of potato chips and Ho-Hos. I mean, my junk food is dried fruit and nuts, Chex Mix (the dark chocolate kind is my favorite!), and pretzels or whole grain tortilla chips. But the truth is, no matter how I spin it, it's still causing me weight gain and moodiness.

I don't believe in getting rid of my favorite junk food and crunching on celery and carrot sticks the rest of my life. Granted, that would be a Best Case Scenario, but I would really miss my chocolate Chex Mix to the point where I might go off the deep end and start stuffing my face with candy bars and cereal just to get my "fix." Seventeen-hundred and twenty-three calories later I would realize a handful of Chex Mix (chocolate!) would have set me back a mere 200 calories. And a ton less fat.

Here's what you should not have in your cupboard. These items are horrid to your body and skin:

*Potato chips (greasy oily goodness, I know, but the salt alone can give you hypertension!)
*Any ready-made cookies or cakes (No more Little Debbies for you.)
*Cereals with a lot of sugar (by a lot, no more than 6 grams per serving...and I'm being lenient here.)
*High calorie bread (2 slices could add a whopping 230 calories to your sandwich. Check out this site to see where the calories fall in your favorite breads:
*Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos (I'm sensing a pattern here...) All those crunchy, salty foods that taste so salty, you can't stop eating them.

A little story here, because I love telling stories. Years ago I worked with a woman my age (at that time, early thirties) who was probably a good thirty pounds heavier than I was. She used to lament about this, noting my eating habits weren't all that different from her own. (I had an occasional slice of pie or a cafeteria sandwich.) The biggest difference between us was that she didn't exercise and I did, and every day she bought herself a snack-size bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. I'll admit...those are delicious. If you have one, you want to entire bag. But if you eat that entire bag, you will have consumed 250 calories. Imagine how that adds up when you have one every. Single. Day. (1,250 calories in a five-day workweek.)

In general, One pound of fat is equal to about 3,500 calories, according to several sites I've visited. You can imagine how eating an extra bag of Doritos every. Single. Day. can affect how much weight you add to your body.

Vincent Iannelli, M.D. notes:

"...if you eat an extra 350 calories of food a day, which is about equal to a large piece of cake or a medium milk shake, you would gain an extra pound every 10 days (350x10). Or you would gain a pound in about 20 days if you eat or drank an extra 175 calories a day (175x20)" (

If my friend had stopped eating those Doritos and kept her diet otherwise the same, eventually she's lose a few pounds over the course of a couple months. If she added exercise as well, she'd lose even more. So if you are trying to lose several pounds, consider taking away a part of your diet you don't that bag of cookies you're chowing down right now. What? You think because I'm on this side of the computer I can't see what you're doing?

So take a look at your pantries, my friends. Is there anything you can stop eating today? Maybe exchange it for a handful of grapes or some apple slices with a teensy-weensy dab of fat-free caramel sauce? I challenge you to try it. And now that I've polished off seven reduced fat Ritz crackers, a decaf coffee, and a small piece of cheese, I'm good until dinner. How about you?

Going Strong Again on Monday

I'm back on track, now that my son is in preschool at the YMCA...I exercise while he's there, then take a shower (wearing flip-flops so I don't catch athlete's foot or worse in the public shower...forgot to bring them the first two times. Yikes.), semi-dry my hair, do my homework (i is a kollege student!), pick up my child, go home and have lunch. Today's healthy lunch for my new "healthier living" diet: salad with a tiny bit of ranch dressing, and an apple with fat-free caramel sauce (again, just a dab per apple slice.) Water for my drink (and a little leftover ice tea from yesterday). Later I will have some cheese and crackers...I know I was told to go for the protein after my workout, and I didn't this time. Normally I'll have tuna fish or peanut butter as my protein.

Yes! Back on track baby, and loving it...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

So I made it to my workout on Wednesday. I did an hour of cardio, expending over 700 calories (according to the machine's estimate). I hate starting over...even missing 2 weeks of exercise makes a huge difference. (I know, I know...I did bike and run a little in between, but being on a regular schedule makes a huge difference.)

Once something becomes a habit, such as regularly exercising and shunning fried foods, it becomes easier to continue that habit. But once you stop...even for 2 short weeks, it's soooo hard to get back into the habit again. It's so much easier NOT to workout. After all, I have to get into my workout clothes, beg, plead and bribe my children to leave whatever toy they're engrossed with, drive to the gym, exercise, then grab the kids, drive us home, shower and get dressed. A two hour ordeal that could've been a nice time sitting around on the floor playing games with the kids or completing housework.

But knowing my health is on the line, how many more hours would I be around to play with the kids or keep up the house if I don't take care of me first? So every hour invested in exercise is an hour invested in the family. And that is why I need to step up and get back into the habit.

How about you?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

>Cough< Been Sick

Sometimes I can exercise when I'm sick. This was not one of those times. I don't care who you are, blowing snot into a tissue is not a welcome sight at the gym. Especially when you're doing it every three minutes and your nose is swelling up to resemble Mount St. Helen's. Add the sneezing and coughing and, well, let's just say some people would rather be next to Mount St. Helen's, even knowing it will explode. Because there may be time to get away from the lava. Not so much when there are germs involved.

Okay. I exaggerate. Nobody wants to be in the path of molten rock by any means. But let's get real. Colds should stay home. At least, the nasty ones. A sniffle? No problem. But when you're miserable, why go out and spread the misery?

So I ended up not exercising this past week. BUT I went out today for a quick run in my brand new Five Fingers shoes. I will post about these fab sneakers later. You don't want to miss my rave review. ( don't, right?)

Later on, I went on a bike ride, toting my kids along in their wheeled contraption attached to my bike. 4 miles. Two to the playground and 2 back. I feel like I'm getting into the swing of things again. And my youngest will be attending preschool next week, thus allowing me to exercise my 3 times a week at the long as he starts remembering to use the potty. Several mishaps this week have not jolted my confidence. (The one at the playground today especially worried me.)

So you will watch as I go from sick lazy person to hard-working gal. You know. Starting next week.

But aren't you glad I didn't work out next to you at the gym this week?

Friday, September 2, 2011

This Week...Under My Goal

This hasn't been a great week for working out. I went for a 4-mile run on Sunday. Tuesday I did my thing at the gym. And then it was all downhill from there. Why? Because I started college (going for my Masters), my kids will be starting school soon, so I tried to fit in play dates and fun, and I'm finishing last minute school preparations. Bad excuses, I know. But you know what? I give myself a break. I've been on target since last October...almost a full year of regular exercise. (I started out 2 days a week at the gym, over the last three months I've gone 3 days a week, for the most part.)

It's important to understand, we're not machines. We have lives that are often complicated and busy. If we let a week slide where we haven't accomplished much in our health goals, whether it be not exercising or consuming too much ice cream, we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves. Sunday is a new week. We can shoulder on from there.

Today I did an hour of cardio, and a half hour of weights. But I was tired. Not into it. But I did it. So in all, this week wasn't one of my better ones. But you know what? That's okay.

Giving ourselves permission to slack off is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. As long as we're motivated the rest of the time. And I am. I truly am. Next week, I will power through.

Meantime, tonight I might go enjoy an ice cream cone.