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Wishes are for birthdays and genies.  Goals are meant to be worked towards.  A french writer once said “a goal without a plan is just a wish.”  I whole-heartedly agree with that quote, especially in regards to weight loss.

More times than I care to estimate, patients will come to me with a “goal” of weight loss without any thought of how they might achieve this goal.  This is like me saying that I am going to run a marathon without having a training plan.  We need to come up with a training plan for weight loss. 

Usually the conversation goes something like this:

Me: So what brings you here today?

Client: I want to lose weight.

Me: Alright, so what are your goals surrounding weight loss?

Client: Weight loss IS my goal. (Client usually has a very confused look on their face as if I did not hear them the first time.)

Me: Okay, I understand you want to lose weight.  How can I help you with this?

Client: Well, that’s why I came to you.  (At this point, I imagine they are expecting me to get out my wand or spell book and cast a incantation that will allow them to lose weight right here and now….sounds simple, right?  I may or may NOT have a spell book or magic wand.  However, if I did, I most definitely haven’t figured out how to get rid of excess weight with it…if I had one, that is….hmmm, will consult Mr. Potter.)

Me: Okay, but have you thought about what YOU are going to do to achieve this goal?

Client: Well, that’s why I came to you.  You are the dieitian, you tell me.  (Aaaah…this always makes me laugh.  As if, whatever I say, they will do.  If  that was the case, then why didn’t the last 15 diets they followed work?  The books and the group leaders tell them exact ly what to do.  What happened there?  And, if I had such power, why isn’t my husband doing my laundry? )

Okay, I know most of you are thinking, well, isn’t that your job, Eve?  Well, yes it is, but I need some participation.  I do assist clients in goal making, but, in my experience, it is usually the clients that come in with a plan that are more likely to succeed.  I can help them make their plan more managable.  I am not saying that if they don’t have a plan that they won’t succeed, but it’s certainly less likely.  And, it is even more unlikely that they will succeed if I am the one making the goals for them.

I try to work with clients to make smaller goals that lead them to their ultimate goal of weight loss.  They need to focus on behaviors and actions that they can DO.  Weight loss is not something that one does, exercise is something that one does.  Okay, now after this has all been said, back to the conversation:

Me: So, what goal do you want to make to support your weight loss?

Client: I am going to eat healthier.

Me: Okay, what does that look like for you? (I ask this because people have such extremely varying ideas on what “healthy” eating entails.)

“Eating healthy” is about as good a goal as “weight loss.”  There is no plan.  We then discuss that we need to make specific goals that deal with behaviors.  Now maybe they’ll understand.  I give them examples.  Back to the conversation:

Me: So, let me help you a little with this. You told me that you drink four 12oz regular sodas per day.  Is this something that you would like to change?

Client: I don’t know.  I guess that would help me lose weight if I cut it out, huh?  But, I really like my cokes.

Me: It sounds like you don’t want to give these up completely just yet.  Would you be willing to work on cutting back?  (Here I acknowledge that she really likes her cokes and have sensed her apprehension to give them up completely.  I am giving her a way to ease into these changes.)

Client: I think I could at least start to cut back.

Me: Okay, great.  Do you think limiting to two 12oz cokes per day is doable?

Client: Yes, I CAN do that!

Me: See, now we have a goal that you can DO and is measurable!  Goal #1: Limit cokes to 24oz per day.

And, then our discussion stems into making more goals that deal with behaviors and are measurable.  Many times clients think these very small goals are silly and not significant enough to make a difference.  But, if this client were to only make this goal and nothing else, and assuming that she was able to achieve this, she could, theoretical, lose up to 30lbs in 1 year by cutting her coke intake in half, which reduces her calorie consumption by 300 calories per day.  Small changes do add up, but only if they can be maintained.

Making goals is hard, making achievable and measurable goals is even harder.  Assisting clients in focusing on behavioral-centered goals is what I do, then its up to them to do the rest.  Weight loss is NOT a behavioral-centered goal.  Examples of behavioral-centered goals might include:

  1. I will include some protein with each meal and snack. (We will formulate a list of things for the client to choose from.)
  2. I will drink 48oz of water daily.
  3. I will do some activity for 10 minutes daily, 4-5 days per week.
  4. I turn off the TV during dinner.

So, the moral of this, whether the goal is weight loss or a marathon, a plan is needed, or its really just a wish.

The Un-Happy Meal

Lack of exercise and overeating are easy targets to pinpoint as obesity causes, but now the Center of Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is targeting toys in Happy Meals.  In a letter written to McDonalds, the CSPI “demands that McDonalds stop using toys to market Happy Meals to young children.” 

The CSPI makes very good points and it is clear to me that McDonalds, and most other fast food conglomerates, for that matter, target kids.  Heck, have you walked down a cereal aisle or the yogurt section of the supermarket?  It is all colors and cartoon characters.  This is not a new thing.

The letter states that because of the toys, kids will “pester” parents for happy meals, and thus, the kids will then consume the unhealthy box of food with loads of fat and calories, which will eventually lead to obesity.  But, will it?  I imagine if parents allowed their kids to eat happy meals everyday it could possibly lead to consuming too many calories and an overweight child.  But, this is assuming that the child is not active and that the rest of their diet is unbalanced.  This is a big IF!

I know what you’re thinking, we live in America, most of the kids are overweight and even obese, we have to do something.  And, I totally agree.  However, do we think banning toys in Happy Meals is going to reduce obesity in America?  Maybe, but I have my doubts. 

The thing I don’t like about this letter is that the CSPI insinuates that parents somehow cannot control what their children consume.  It assumes that a 5 year old is the ultimate decision maker of what goes on their plate.  If this is the case, then we have more problems than obesity in America. 

I am not trying to condone what McDonalds or other fast food giants do to get customers, I actually think its pretty shameful.  But seriously, where is the consumer responsibility?  And, to blame a new toy on obesity in America?  Really?  How often does a new toy come out?  Every new movie, every quarter?  It is certainly not everyday.

Just as I wrote about Ronald McDonald and other fictional characters in a previous post, toys are the latest scape-goat for childhood obesity.  Taking away cartoons and toys is not going to make kids skinny.  Kids need to get more activity, including in schools, eat meals at the dinner table instead of in front of the tv or in the car.  Parents need to take responsibility for what young children eat, that’s what parents are supposed to do, right? 

CSPI, I like you, but please stop making ridiculous claims that won’t do anything to curb obesity in America.  Please start spending your money on educating parents on what will make a difference: budget planning, meal planning, cooking, gardening, etc.

I really love watermelon, and so does one of my cats.  Vladimir is pictured here eating, or rather drinking juice from a watermelon rind.  It’s pretty easy to spot when Vlads has been into the watermelon, the white fur around his mouth turns pink…so cute. 

Here is a video of another cat who loves watermelon:

Watermelon is sweet, juicy, and delicious.  And, it is not devoid of nutrients as some think because of the name.  Watermelons contain more lycopene, a phytochemical found to reduce risk of certain types of cancers, than tomatoes.  Watermelon also contains high amounts of Vitamin A and potassium.  And, for you locavores, Indiana cultivates over 6% of all watermelons grown in the U.S.

Watermelons are great eaten straight from the rind, mixed with other fruits, on green salads, or even made into salsa.  And, for those humid Indiana nights, you can even turn your watermelon into a cooling cocktail.  Here is a recipe from a recent Everyday Food magazine that I have tried…vodka, optional. 

Watermelon-Cucumber Cooler

  1. Set a large fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl or pitcher.  In a food processor or blender, blend 5 cups of cubed, seedless watermelon (about 1 1/2 pounds). Pour watermelon puree through sieve, pressing on solids with a rubber spatula.  You should have about 2 cups of juice.
  2. Puree 1 large english cucumer, peeled and cut into chunks, and pour through sieve into watermelon juice. 
  3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup fresh lime juice and 2 Tbsp honey.  Add to watermelon and cucumber juices, along with 2/3 cup vodka, if desired. 
  4. To serve, fill glasses with ice and pour in cocktail, garnish with cucumber slices.  Enjoy!   

After talking with patients for 10 years, I’ve come to an unscientific conclusion that the average American has 3-dimensional flavor…..fat, salt, and SUGAR.  The per capita consumption of sugar in the United States is somewhere between 150-170 pounds annually….thats roughly 231,000-261,800 calories from added sugar per year.  And, we wonder why we are facing a obesity epidemic in America?  Really?   As a reference, in 1951, the per capita consumption was 95 pounds of sugar annually.  Now, that figure includes sugar that is added to processed foods as well as table sugar that is consumed.  I just want to focus on the sugar that people knowingly add to their foods, which may be around 20-30 pounds per capita annually. 

I’ve heard it so many times before, but it still amazes me the amount of sugar that people add to already sweet foods.  Today, a patient told me that they add sugar to their tomatoes???  I’ve listened as they tell me they add sugar to already sweetened cereals such as honey nut cheerios and fruit loops.  Sugar to fruit like berries and melons.  Personally, I think this completely ruins the fruit….it gets mushy and watery.  Oh, and I can’t forget sweet potatoes…they add brown sugar, honey, and marshmallows.  I wonder if they’ve even eaten a plain sweet potato….completely delicious and sweet all on its own.  I’ve seen people add sugar to milk, carrots, beets and popcorn.      

What happened to eating foods the way nature intended?  While Americans have been on a sugar high, did aliens come steal our taste buds?  I don’t get it!  I will just try to keep a straight face when tomorrow’s patient tells me that they add sugar to their soda. *sigh*

Snap, Crackle…Ugh

This would be yours truly to the left attempting to get up after a hit.  Falling is part of roller derby, and I do it alot.  I skate for Indianapolis’ Naptown Roller Girls, who in my opinion, have the best team and fans in the nation…wOOt.  Playing roller derby, or even watching, is not for the light-hearted. Roller girls experience mostly bruises and soreness, but there is the occasional bloody nose, concussion, and even broken bones, mostly tailbones, legs, and ribs.  Even some spectators may leave a bout with some bruises, although this is the chance one takes when sitting in the suicide seats.  You have been warned. 

If you have never witnessed a bout, check out this video of big hits from the Carolina Rollergirls.  And, if you want more roller derby knock-outs, check out our website for upcoming bouts.    

As a roller girl, I know that I am putting my body at risk everytime I hit the track….I have signed all the waivers and release forms….but, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

As a dietitian, I know that there are important nutritients to consume to keep bones strong, speed healing of bruises, and alleviate, not eliminate, stiff joints and muscles.  In my experience as a runner and yoga instructor, there are many things one can do to aid in recovery and alleviate soreness.  Here are my recommendations for roller girls and others that put them self at risk of bumps and bruises on a daily basis:

  1. Eat high quality protein.  If you’re a meat eater, then lean meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products, all preferably organic.  If you don’t eat meat, then beans, grains, nuts, and seeds will likely provide you with adequate protein. 
  2. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  These provide the greatest amount of vitamins and antioxidants.  I am not a big advocate of multivitamins as they have not been proven to be adequately absorbed, but I suppose they are a cheap insurance if you aren’t getting much variety.  Fruits also contain fructose, a natural sugar, that can aid in replenishing muscle glycogen stores, which if not replenished, can leave your muscles feeling sore. 
  3. Read my previous post on my favorite recovery drink, chocolate milk.  If you don’t drink dairy, coconut water can be a good recovery drink as well, although, I do not have personal experience with this. 
  4. Obviously, drink plenty of water.  The amount of water one needs is certainly dependent on amount and intensity of training, weather, body fat percentage, age, and gender.  If your pee is bright yellow, you likely aren’t drinking enough. 
  5. As stated in # 2, I rarely advocate supplements, however, Omega-3 supplements, such as fish oil or flax seed oil, have been shown in many studies to reduce inflammation in the joints.  Nuts and seeds can also provide these.
  6. Stretch.  Yoga Journal’s website is a good resource to find poses for particular muscle groups. 
  7. Rest.  Rest is not something that roller girls do well.  They want to go out 100% all the time or they think they will lose their strength.  Rest is just as important as training.  Rest allows your muscles to recover and get stronger from training.  The amount of rest depends on the intensity of training and will likely be different for every individual.

“Organic” is a term that is loosely used by many, but the actual definition, according to the USDA, can be found here.  I, for one, am very skeptical of farming practices when big companies are producing “organic” meats and vegetables.  Organic is not just about eliminating antibiotics and hormones.  True organic is allowing animals to eat what they are meant to eat, not “organic” corn meal.  True organic would be farming in such a way to sustain the earth.  “What’s Organic About Organic?” is a new film that may uncover some of the concerns that I, and others, have about organics.

The film has limited screenings, but hopefully, will be out in DVD format soon.  Below is the trailer:

Food as addiction? Doesn’t make sense, does it?  We need food, right?  Food isn’t like cocaine, we have to eat.  However, considering the obesity epidemic that has overrun America and my experience with patients, it appears that many cannot kick their over-consumption habit.

Addicted to food?  Many scoff at such an idea and believe that obese individuals just lack will-power or need to exercise more, which may be partly the case, but what if there is more to it than that?  A study from Nature Neuroscience and another from the Journal of Nutrition, just to name a few, give some insight into the inner workings of brain chemicals in relation to food.

But, what if humans have not quite adapted to the high-sugar, high-sodium, high-fat foods that encompass the modern American diet?  As our food has become increasingly more convenient and processed, so has our waistlines. Coincidence?  Probably not. But, that certainly does not prove that food addiction is real.

I can only speak from personal experience with bulimia, which some experts believe is a form of food addiction.  I actually went to 12-step meetings through Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA).  They had a structured meal plan that was devoid of all sugar and processed foods.  I can’t say if it was the elimination of the processed foods or the structure that allowed me to work on my issues surrounding food and body image, or if I was just “ready.”  But, it was a breakthrough for me at that time.  Before then, no amount of therapy or anti-depressants were able to pull me out of the bulimia spiral.

My diet has changed since the FAA plan and I haven’t felt out of control with food and am able to enjoy desserts once in awhile without overeating, but that wasn’t always the case.  I do believe that my ability to stay sane with food has stemmed from a structure with eating and eliminating most processed foods.  I don’t ever remember a time during my bulimic days that I was binging on apples or salad?  Weird, I know, seems like just the right binge food, huh?

I can’t prove that food addiction is real, but I would guess that many with bulimia, binge-eating disorder, or the main character in the movie Lbs. would have a hard time believing that it isn’t real.  Lbs. was released on March 26, 2010 to limited theaters, mostly on the East Coast.   I am hoping that it will at least get to Chicago, but I may have to wait until the DVD comes out, which is of an unknown date. Below is the trailer to Lbs.