My name is Catherine Morgan, I'm a writer, nurse, and mother. This is a blog about women's issues, health & wellness, inspirational thoughts, and other stuff too. If you like this blog, you will love BlogHer.com where I am also a contributing editor for Health & Wellness.
Find out all the places I blog at by going to catherine-morgan.com.
How important is willpower when it comes to our ability to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle? Is it possible to change poor eating habits to healthy ones if you don’t have a lot of willpower?
My answer: The more willpower you have the easier it will be, but perfection isn’t necessary.
No one wants to admit that they lack willpower or self-control, but the truth is, none of us has an unlimited supply. Some days we may have less self control than others, but that makes us normal, not imperfect.
When it comes to healthy living, a healthy dose of willpower is helpful. The good thing is, once you’ve had the willpower to resist certain unhealthy choices and adapt healthy ones, willpower is needed less and less because your new choices become habit.
If you have unhealthy habits, it is possible to change them into healthy habits. They say it takes about three weeks for something to become a habit (or to unlearn a habit), so those first three weeks are when willpower is most needed. And there are things we can do to help maintain are willpower during these critical times. Here are a few tips…
1. Have a plan for dealing with times of low willpower.Making the plan before you’ve lost your willpower is key. Think of all the possible problems that could arise, and then come up with some ways to help you overcome them.
For example: If eating healthy is your goal, make sure you have a lot of healthy alternatives available for the days you’re feeling you must eat something that you know you shouldn’t. If you don’t think that will work, then go ahead and eat what you’re craving, just limit yourself to one serving of it (rather than the whole box). If you think it will help, write down your solutions to the possible problems in a journal or on a post-it note, and review them frequently.
The most important thing is to be prepared. Because it’s not a matter of will you have a moment of weakened self-control, it’s a matter of when.
2. Find ways to reduce the stress in your life. Emotions definitely play a role in the amount of willpower we have on any given day. If you’re an emotional eater, you know what I’m talking about. Do what ever you can to reduce stress in your life. Here are a few ideas…
Do what ever you can do to reduce the stress in your life. This isn’t just a way to help your willpower, this is a necessary component of healthy living.
3. Have a glass of orange juice. Studies show that glucose is a key ingredient that your brain needs to help maintain an effective level of self-control (willpower).
4. Exercise the willpower muscle. Don’t wait for something huge to come along and challenge your willpower. Instead, make an effort to challenge your willpower on a smaller scale more frequently. Doing this actually builds up your ability for having greater willpower at the times you really need it.
These are a few tips that can help you develop stronger willpower. But it’s important to know that we will all have times we falter, there is no such thing as having complete self-control, and that is perfectly okay.
What are your willpower issues? Do you have any tips you can share about ways to maintain willpower for healthy living and healthy eating?
Earlier this week I was part of a conference call with Carnie Wilson, who was recently featured on the Dr. Oz Show to talk about her food and alcohol addiction.
Carnie Wilson has always struggled with her weight. She even had gastric bypass surgery in 1999. Then after going through two pregnancies, and gaining 50 pounds each time, she found herself battling the extra weight all over again.
Carnie told us that the show was “very dramatic,” and “the fact that he had labeled me morbidly obese really shocked me.” But, she also says, “Dr. Oz was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.” Carnie was confused when Dr. Oz told her that she was pre-diabetic – “I was actually in shock because I just had blood work done. All that blood work came back normal. To this day I am not pre-diabetic,” she said in the press call. “If he wants to call me that, it’s fine, but my glucose levels are at a normal range.”
After watching the show, I can understand how Carnie may have been shocked by some of the things Dr. Oz was saying to her. It’s funny to me how Dr. Oz seems to try so hard to make medical issues more understandable to the average person, but he didn’t clarify many of the comments he was making about Carnie. For instance, doctors refer to patients as “morbidly obese” strictly based on their weight and BMI. But clearly, although Carnie may fit the medical definition of morbidly obese, she is obviously in a much healthier place than she was in the past. And when Dr. Oz checks her glucose level, he does so by using a method diabetics use to keep track of their blood sugar throughout the day. Carnie’s doctor would be using a much more accurate method that involves fasting blood work, and that’s why she is so certain she is not pre-diabetic…she probably isn’t.
What is your eating style? Do you follow one of the popular diet plans?
If you’re looking to eat healthy or lose weight in the new year, there are a lot of diet plans out there to choose from. But how do you know which plan is best for you? I’m not a fan of fad diets – Even when they work, they are often an unhealthy choice and any weight lost is usually quickly gained back. But there are diet plans geared towards healthy eating and healthy weight loss. Maybe you’re already following one.
In this post I thought we could take a look at some of the diet plans that also focus on healthy eating. Because, in the long run, changing unhealthy eating habits to healthy ones is the only way to lose weight and keep it off.
Is it possible to eat cookies and lose weight? Well, Dr. Sanford Siegal would certainly like you to think so. After all, at $56 for a week’s supply, Dr. Siegal is going to make an estimated $18 million this year selling his weight-loss cookies. It’s called The Cookie Diet, and if you like cookies it may sound like a great way to lose weight. But is it?
Usually, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. And apparently the first deception about this diet is calling it a cookie. The word “cookie” implies that it’s a yummy treat, but it seems everyone agrees they don’t taste very good. Also, the meal-plan for the cookie diet restricts the dieter to only one meal a day, and less than 1000 calories. Anytime you restrict calories that low, weight-loss is inevitable (with or without the cookie).
A friend of mine tried these cookies because someone she worked with seemed to have lost quite a bit of weight using them. But she told me the cookies were very dry and not tasty at all. She also said she would never buy them again, because they didn’t work. When I asked her about the co-worker that had lost so much weight using the cookies, she mentioned that she saw the guy recently, and he had gained all the weight back.
Last week I watched Valerie Bertinelli and Marie Osmond on the Oprah Winfrey Show talking about their personal weight loss success stories, and I found both stories to be very inspirational. As most of you already know, I’ve been struggling with my weight for several years now. And for that reason, I find myself easily able to relate to these two women. After watching that show I felt more motivated then ever to continue eating healthy and losing weight. I don’t think I was alone, but as always, there was also a backlash.
It seems like a no-brainer that the key to weight loss is cutting calories, but many people swear by one diet or another as being best. It turns out that the most important part of any diet is your ability to reduce your calorie intake. This news verifies what I have always believed…The best diet is one that is tailored to you personally. A diet that you can stick to (and possibly enjoy) will make it easier to reduce your calories, and have the most benefits.
It’s not something we, as parents, like to hear and yet it’s precisely what we need to realize: if our children are fat, the chances are we bear a big load of the blame. Kids aren’t the ones pulling the minivan into the drive-through lane at McDonald’s for dinner between dance lessons and karate practice. Again. They aren’t the ones zipping past the produce aisle and dried beans in favor of high-fat, calorie-dense convenience meals that promise to be ready after five minutes or less in the microwave. They don’t keep files crammed with the take-out menus for nearby restaurants, nor program the phone number of the pizza joint on their cell phones. Parents do.
If a child is obese at the age of two, there’s no one to blame but the parents.
Traditionally toddlers have the healthiest lifestyles – they naturally run around all the time, burning up calories.
So it’s difficult to imagine what these children’s parents have been doing to let them get so fat. If you’re busy and stressed and feel guilty about not spending enough quality time with your child, you’re probably looking for quick and easy ways to make it up to them.
Is fast-food to blame? Or is it the parent who provides the fast-food to blame?
School systems have instituted nutrition and exercise programs with some success. For example, a research group, The Healthier Options for Public Schools, followed 3700 students in a Florida county over 2 years. School districts instituted an intervention program in 4 schools and the results were measured against two schools that did not have a program. The intervention program included dietary changes, increased exercise and nutrition awareness. There were dramatic changes in the kids who had intervention, however, when those students returned from summer vacation, most had reverted back to their old habits.
Healthy Choices: Stock the fridge with a lot of healthy food and snacks, such as whole-grain choices, fresh produce and milk. Get rid of the junk food and soda.
Behavioral changes help: Serving water or milk at dinner instead of soda, sitting at a table instead of around the T.V., eating dinner at a regular time—these changes are small but can break old habits and make a real difference. Make small decisions to increase the activity in your day.
Beware of the TV: studies have shown that TV time directly correlates with snacking. Instead, encourage your child to be active, or work on a project that engages his or her hands so they are less likely to snack.
Slow down the consumption: Encourage your child to eat slowly and engage them in discussion during mealtime. Serve them smaller portions, and if they are old enough, don’t cut their food for them.
Food as nutrition, not reward: Don’t make food a source of reward or punishment. Allow your child to stop eating when they are no longer hungry and never force them to finish their plate.
Engage them in physical activity outside of the home: Enroll your child in a physical activity they might enjoy, such as gymnastics, dance or martial arts. Encourage him to join a school team or play basketball with his friends.
Be a good role model: Create a healthy lifestyle, not just a goal for your child’s weight. There are old habits to break and good habits to establish- acting as a role model for your child is the most effective way to help him or her make changes that last.
Often, I say to my adult children “I wish I knew then what I know now”. Our lives would be very different. I would advise that parents involve their children in the healthy choices. A meal always tastes better when the child is involved in the preparation. Make sure the fruit bowl is always full. Take control as a parent over the media hype. Do not give in. I would also advice parents to start with the elimination of “hydrogenated oils” and “high fructose corn syrup” from any products they purchase. Make sure your child starts their day with a nutritious breakfast that would exclude modern breakfast cereals. We drink green smoothies daily and every child loves a smoothie. Cabbage and spinach are the easiest veggies to mask and this can sustain a child with clearer thinking and brain function. In sharing with your child the importance of healthy choices and the affect on their bodies, we can reverse this preventive epidemic we call obesity.
Last year around this time I came to the realization that I was at my highest weight ever. I knew I was overweight, but when I checked my BMI I was shocked to realize that I had actually tipped into the “obese” category. My BMI was 30.8 and anything over 30 is considered obese. It was at that moment that I decided I needed to make a drastic lifestyle change. But hardcore dieting really isn’t my thing, so I started a “pre-diet” to ease myself into weight loss.
By the end of the year, my healthy eating had paid off, and I had lost 29 pounds [insert happy dance here]. Anyway, it took almost a year, but my BMI is down to 25.7 (overweight is considered to be between 25 and 29.9). So I’m still a few pounds away from being considered “normal weight”, but I’m more determined than ever to get there.
If I lose 15-20 more pounds, that will put me smack in the middle of what’s considered to be a normal and healthy weight (a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9). So that’s my goal for the new year, and it’s time for me to start a real diet. But what diet? There are so many.
I decided to try using a Health Tracker that I found online. Each day I can record my weight along with the food (calories) I eat, and keep track of every aspect of my diet. I also decided that I would take advantage of the sales on pre-packaged diet meals that we always see right after the holidays. I ended up getting Lean Cuisines for 50% off, and paid between $1.45 and $1.85 per meal. This is working great for me because it’s easy to keep track of calories, quick to prepare when I’m hungry, and I have a lot of choices so I don’t feel deprived. I’m also still using Isagenix supplements and shakes for added nutrition.
Since January 1st I’ve lost 3.5 pounds, and I’m now less than one pound away from not being overweight – woohoo.
Have you made a weight loss resolution for the new year? If so, now is a great time to stock up on those frozen diet entrees from your grocery store.
Whether you live alone or with your family, it’s difficult to adjust your eating habits when you want to lose some weight. But, it’s a lot easier if you can plan your meals ahead of time. A great way to get started is with portion and calorie controlled frozen meals. This way, if you still need to cook dinner for the family, you don’t have to spend a lot more time making something healthy for yourself. And even though that would probably be your best option, it might not be realistic to think it’s something you’ll be able to do during the hardest and most critical time of your diet (the beginning).
In order to be successful on a new diet, you need to do two things right off the bat…
1. Get rid of ALL the food temptations in your home.
That doesn’t mean your whole family has to “suffer” through your diet with you. Get rid of all the foods that are tempting to you, and leave unhealthy foods that aren’t tempting to you.
Does your family love ice-cream, but it’s a huge weakness for you? Get them together and decide on a flavor (or flavors) that you don’t really care for. This way, your kids are happy that they have their ice-cream, and you don’t feel tempted to indulge. Do the same with cookies, cereal, candy, and any of the other “junk” foods that you normally keep in your pantry.
2. Stock up on the healthy foods you CAN have on your diet.
The worst thing you can do to sabotage a good diet, is to not have enough healthy foods in your house. When you get those hunger pangs between meals, you absolutely need to have plenty of healthy (and quick) choices available.
This is where those frozen diet entrees come in handy, and this is the time of year when they all go on sale. Not just 25% off either. Most grocery stores are having buy one get one free and 50% off during these next few weeks after the holidays. These manufacturers understand that losing weight is a huge new year’s resolution, and they want you to buy their products. So if you can, save money by stocking up on them now. Yesterday, I was able to get a bunch of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners for less than $2.00 each. For that price, I can have a healthy lunch and dinner for less than $4.00 a day. That’s less than the cost of one meal at a fast food place.
Personally, I find these portion controlled meals a little small, and not very filling. But a great way to compensate that drawback is by adding fresh (try cleaned/pre-cut) or frozen vegetable. They only add a few more calories, and you can mix them right in with your frozen dinner to give them a bit more flavor.
So, get rid of the funk food and stock up on the healthy food.
Good luck, and let me know how you make out in comments.
Here are more posts on dieting and weight loss that you might find helpful…
When you’re ready to start a diet, knowing how much weight you want to lose, and what foods to avoid, is important. But, even more important, is preparing yourself emotionally for your diet. Most of us gain weight because of emotional eating, and when we try to diet, those emotions don’t go away. So, how do you prepare yourself “emotionally” for weight loss? Here are 3 tips that might help.
For the record, I really don’t like the word “dieting”, it sounds too much like the word “depriving,” and it feels too much like it too. So, when I say dieting, I really mean, eating healthy for your body. I don’t believe in fad or radical diet plans. Eat healthy and avoid junk food, that’s the best diet around.
That said…Here are the 3 STEPS TO GET STARTED ON YOUR DIET:
STEP 1 — YOUR GOALS
Take some time to think about your goals.
The night before you want to begin your diet, go to bed a few minutes early. Get comfortable and let go of any thoughts running through your head. Then close your eyes and start thinking about the foods you are going to eat the next day (healthy foods), and think about the foods you are not going to eat (unhealthy foods). Think about your goal weight, how you will look, how you will feel. Do this for about five minutes or so. That’s not too hard?
STEP 2 — YOUR FEELINGS
Take some time to think about how you will feel when you reach your goals.
After a few minutes of step 1, begin to think about how you will feel after a week of eating healthy and being on your way to your goal weight. You want to have a clear picture in your mind how you will feel when you are successful. The more you think about how your success will make you feel the better.
Since our thoughts are directly related to how we feel, and how we feel is directly related to our eating habits…You can see why it is so important to focus on what you are thinking at this critical point of your diet plan. For more on this check out the post – How changing your belief system can change your life
STEP 3 — PRETENDING
Telling yourself you are already successful. Pretend. This is also known as, faking it, till you make it.
Next, after another few minutes, just add into your thoughts the idea that you are already at that place. That you are already successful. That it has been a week, and you are feeling great. It has been a week and now looking back you can see it wasn’t as hard as you thought it would be. You feel proud of yourself, and feel confident that you will be able to continue your healthy eating habits for at least another week. Even though you will know that you haven’t actually been on your diet for a week yet, believe it or not…Your thoughts will translate into feelings, and your feelings will help you create a sense of success.
The biggest stumbling block with a diet, is getting past those first few days. Getting motivated to start a diet is easy, staying motivated is the problem. I found that the best way to stay motivated is to get over the proverbial “hump” – those first few days on your diet. The days that if you can’t get passed, are the sole reason 99% of us will just give up, and consider ourselves a failure at our diet, before we even have a chance to get stared. That is what STEP 3 is all about, pretend you are already over the hump.
Now you are all ready to start your diet. When you wake up in the morning, know you have already been successful, now you just have to continue your success by continuing to eat healthy. It’s easy now, because you know you can do it. Keep yourself motivated with your feelings of accomplishment. Take one day at a time. And each night reflect on your success. Most of all. If you falter, it is not a failure…Just begin at step one, and get back on the wagon as soon as possible.
“Every Though We This Is Creating Our Future.” — Louise L. Hay
Weight Loss: Getting Reacquainted With Healthy Food — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)
For the last few weeks I’ve been making an attempt at eating healthy. And usually this is where I would tell you that I’ve failed miserably. But, I’m happy to report that I have actually been doing pretty well. I think it is in part because, around the same time I decided that I couldn’t afford to gain another pound, I got an email from Elaine Magee. Funny how we get what we need, just when we need it. Anyway, Elaine is the Healthy Recipe Doctor at WebMD, and she wanted to tell me about her newest book Food Synergy. Even better, she said if I wanted a copy she would send me one. The timing couldn’t have been better.
I’m not sure if it was the book or my total fear of gaining another pound, but I’ve actually lost about six pounds. It’s not that her book is a diet plan or anything…It’s really about eating healthy, and that’s what is so great about it. The book reinforced a lot of what I already knew, but also explained how different food combinations actually work to prevent disease and promote wellness. Not only is the book informative, but it is loaded with great recipes.
Evidence is mounting that certain components in the food we eat and drink (minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals, fiber, smart fats, etc.) interact to provide our bodies extra disease protection and a higher level of health. This advanced nutrition science is called food synergy.
Food synergy is like adding 1 plus 1 and getting 4 or 6 instead of 2; the total is greater than the sum of the individual parts (or nutrients).
Whole grains are naturally low in fat and cholesterol-free; contain 10% to 15% protein and offer loads of fiber, resistant starch and oligosaccharides, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and often, phytoestrogens. With all those nutrients in one package, it’s no wonder whole grains provide so many health benefits, including protection from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and some cancers.
Veggies — Especially Dark Green Ones
Whether it’s the two vegetables high in viscous fiber (eggplant and okra); the cruciferous veggies (like kale and broccoli) with their anticancer organosulfur compounds; or the carotenoid family (like carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach) with their rich mix of phytochemicals, the message is clear: The more the merrier! Eat as many vegetables as you can, as often as you can. Dark green veggies, in particular, showed up on all sorts of food synergy lists in my book: for vegetables high in vitamin C; foods with multiple carotenoids; foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium; and good sources of vitamin E.
Nuts contain mostly monounsaturated fat, and antioxidant phytochemicals (like flavonoids). Most also contribute phytosterols, which in sufficient amounts may help lower blood cholesterol, enhance the immune system, and decrease the risk of some cancers. Nuts also have some vitamins and minerals we tend to lack, like vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium. Two forms of vitamin E tend to work best together (alpha- and gamma-tocopherol), and you’ll find them in almonds, cashews, and walnuts. Walnuts also contain some plant omega-3s.
Tea (Especially Green Tea)
With each sip, you get two potent flavonoids — anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin — plus a healthy dose of catechin, which may enhance the antioxidant activity of alpha-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E). Green and black teas also contain antioxidant polyphenols, thought to block cell damage that can lead to cancer. Phytochemicals in tea have a half-life of a few hours, so have a cup now and another later to get the biggest bang for your tea bag.
There are 30-plus phytochemicals in olive oil, many of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action in the body, helping to promote heart health and protect against cancer. They’re also found in the olives themselves, of course.
Fish offers heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, along with a dose of potassium. It’s also a rare natural food source of vitamin D. A recent Norwegian study found that the intake of fish and fish products was strongly linked to higher mental performance in a group of men and women aged 70-74. And because lean fish had the same health benefits as fatty fish in this study, it may not be just the omega-3s at work, but perhaps a combination of components found in fish. Fish omega-3s may also have some synergy with plant omega-3s and olive oil, so cook your seafood with a little canola oil or olive oil. Or, serve your seafood with a side dish rich in plant omega-3s or lightly dressed in olive oil.
Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids, which have synergy as a group. Few fruits and vegetables can say that! Tomatoes also contain three high-powered antioxidants thought to have synergy together (beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C) as well as lycopene, which has synergy with several food components.
The whole citrus family is loaded with synergy because it boasts plenty of vitamin C and the phytochemical subgroup flavones, which are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action in the body, as well as other benefits. Oranges also offer two carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin. Grapefruits are rich in the antioxidant lycopene.
Ground flaxseed seems to have synergy within itself on many levels, through fiber, lignans (plant estrogens), and plant omega-3s. But the seed may have synergy with several other foods, such as fish omega-3s and soy, and these are just the ones we know about. Remember, it’s ground flaxseed you want to add to your yogurt or cereal. All those healthy components aren’t absorbed and available to the body until the seed is ground.
Dairy foods deliver a team of players that’s important for healthy bones (calcium, vitamin D, protein, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins A and B6), some of which have synergy together. Calcium combined with vitamin D, for example, may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Including a couple of low-fat dairy servings a day is also part of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to lower hypertension.