Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You Can’t Outrun Your Fork!

Huh? Here’s the thing. To lose a pound of weight each week through physical activity is pretty much the equivalent of running a marathon. Actually, the calories burned running those 26 miles don’t quite erase a pound, and that also means, not eating what you probably should eat to fuel those miles. It’s a conundrum. (What a great word!)

To be clear, I’m not at all saying physical activity doesn’t count. Where your health is concerned, it’s at the top of the list. But you can’t outrun your fork, and the calories you take in (and don’t take in) are what will ultimately determine how much weight you lose.

This is part of the challenge (and conundrum) people face when starting, or continuing on their weight loss journey, the idea that joining the gym and faithfully attending or running, or walking 5 miles a day will result in weight loss. It won’t, and the downside is, it often discourages physical activity when the scales don’t respond. We tend to give up. We feel we’ve failed, yet again. This is not good.  It’s not good on many levels—personal, societal, and yes, wellness and well-being.

Now, if we take physical activity out of the weight loss equation ... Your diet, the food you choose to eat on a daily basis, is responsible for about 80 percent of your weight (or weight loss) and consequent health. If your goal is to lose weight, the kitchen (and all the other places you find food)  is a better solution than the gym. But, and this is a really big but, for HEALTH, you need both.

It doesn’t seem fair, but then, so many things aren’t. Health, wellness and weight loss are not synonyms, but they are connected. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The "ME" Project

We should all have one. Each of us is that important—important enough to warrant a special project that revolves around who we are. Sure, we can whine about what’s wrong—but we can—and should—also celebrate what is right. And, that’s certainly where the focus should be. That’s what we build from, and on. Right? That’s where change comes in and that includes the positive changes we set as goals.

Now think about this . . . if you re-direct your behavior often enough, you change your behavior. And, your attitude toward what influenced that behavior changes. You are thinking for a change. Literally.

But, change is not always a rational process. 

To change behavior, you have to address the conceptual “framework” the behavior fits into. “In one ear and out the other.” Sound familiar? How about, “don’t confuse me with the facts?”  (Don’t mess with my conceptual framework.) If ‘facts’ contradict a framework you’re familiar with (your current lifestyle behaviors are harmful to your long-term health, and in fact studies show those behaviors have a 75 percent chance of eventually killing you), your first thought will probably be, “that can’t be right. Those numbers must be wrong.”

We have an astounding ability to resist change. So, we have to change the framework where that behavior lies, and to do this, we have to create a new and improved framework that will accommodate our new behavior—and do it in a way that makes us feel really good about what we’re trying to accomplish (changing these few behaviors will improve your quality of life and long-term future, as well as that of your family). 

There’s absolutely no scientific reason we can’t change. You’ve probably changed jobs, cars, houses and apartments. Maybe you’ve changed careers. Maybe you’ve changed spouses. Most of us have changed our opinions on different topics. Some of us change political views, our tastes in music and art and even our tastes for certain types of food . . . ah ha! 

Now it’s time to apply those changes you want to make,  for yourself, to your very own “ME” project.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Ritual of Food

Whether a habit, a rite, or a ceremony, most of us have food rituals. Do you tap the top of a can before pulling the tab? Do you eat the filling first and then the cookie? Do you dunk an Oreo in milk? Do you cut the crusts off of your bread? Do you slice your sandwich in half or at an angle? Do you stir your coffee exactly 12 times and then tap the spoon against the mug three times? 

If yes, you’re not alone. A recent study published last month in the journal Psychological Science finds that the little rituals you bring to the table make eating and drinking more enjoyable. Flavor is intensified and the meal enjoyed more.  

In the study, those participants who performed rituals reported they savored the items more than those who did not engage in rituals. The rituals that study participants exhibited boosted involvement in the eating and  drinking experiences. Here’s the bad news. The study also found that performing a ritual enhanced the amount consumed.

It seems the ritual becomes a mindset, a way we approach food. And, if it at least in part determines the way we think about and approach food, it also in part determines the way we eat it. Now here’s an interesting idea...

What if we develop new rituals? Rituals that revolve around healthy food choices. How about a broccoli or squash ritual? And, can rituals work in the other direction? What if we have negative rituals around white carbs, soft drinks, donuts, ice cream and cake? Well, it doesn’t sound like much fun, but it is food for thought—and maybe action. With a little practice, maybe a new habit is just waiting to become a future ritual. 

What food ritual would you develop? Let me know.