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January 10, 2015

Friendly reminder

3:58 pm - Posted by Gregg

How are you Weightless?

Photo Source: Spark People

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January 8, 2015

Mean Green Beans?

12:46 pm - Posted by Gregg

Confession time… There are some days when something as simple as a green bean can really piss me off.

Sure, I’m committed to healthy eating – and for two main reasons. First, to stay, well, healthy. Second, to keep the 250 pounds of excess weight (that I got rid of) from ever creeping back on. Because I was overweight for a large part of my life, eating healthy foods in healthy portions is something I find I always must think about. I liken it to riding a bicycle. The minute I stop peddling, I fall down, skin my knees and potentially gain 250 pounds.

This all amounts to a whole heck of a lot of self-regulation. And there are many rewards for doing so: Wearing a pair of jeans without being in total misery until I disrobe… Not accidentally realizing that I’m using my stomach as a makeshift shelf to rest my hands or other objects on (yes, I’ve done it)… Not being out of breath just from talking on the phone… And more.

But even with all of these great rewards, there are days I resent what’s required of me to stay fit and healthy. And on certain days, the targets of this resentment are green beans.

Yes. You read that right. Green beans.

I target green beans in particular because they have become a staple of my healthy eating regimen. A typical dinner for me consists of a medium to large-sized chicken thigh, sliced cherry or grape tomatoes and steamed green beans. And most times when I have this meal, I enjoy it greatly. Afterwards I’m satisfied and full – but never stuffed or in pain from eating too much. And I know it’s these ‘stricter meals’ that allow for ‘treat meals’ when special occasions or big time cravings call for it. It’s all about balance after all.

Still, there are times that green beans really piss me off. I resent having to clean them, steam them and having to sprinkle a little balsamic vinegar over them before sitting down to my typical Gregg dinner. I wonder to myself, ‘Why can’t I be having pizza instead? Or maybe a pile of mashed potatoes smothered in butter?’

There are occasions during which I’m convinced that green beans are out to get me. I see them, all bunched together (a gang, if you will) – smugly mocking me from the safety of the plate, as if they’re saying, “You have no choice but to eat us.”

Of course, the joke is on them – mainly because I remind myself that I do have a choice. It’s absolutely my choice to have the green beans. Or mashed potatoes. Or an ice cream sundae or a… Well, you get the idea. I can eat anything I want for dinner.

It’s at this point that I must think about what I really want. ‘Really’ being the key word.

Sure, I could forego green beans all together. I could replace them with another healthy vegetable that I can steam and enjoy (on most days) without added salt, butter or other substances that would make the vegetables less healthy. The fact is, green beans provide an affordable and healthy meal staple for me. And by eating them, I get all the benefits of looking good and feeling great. Isn’t that worth a little resentment from time to time?

As dieters, we often think we’re being denied certain things in life. And for most of us, those ‘things’ are food related. But here’s where we can all benefit from a shift in thinking. It’s not about what we’re being denied, but what we get in return for the choices we make: Smaller waistlines. Healthier heart rates. Clothes that fit. And knowing we look good when we walk into a room. Isn’t that worth the occasional harassment from a gang of spiteful green beans? I think so. And I’ll bet you do, too.

So next time you feel mocked by your healthy food choices, put a fork in them and chew them up gleefully. In other words, remind ‘em whose boss. After all, it’s the healthy choices we make today that benefit us tomorrow.

Do green beans or another healthy food staple sometimes piss you off? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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7:52 pm - Posted by Gregg

Okay, so 2015 is officially in progress. Still, it’s early enough in 2015 that we can refer to it as a “new year.” And for us dieting types, “new year(s)” signify the dawn of the many promises we make to ourselves — the same promises we often end up breaking. [Insert air-leaking-out-of-tires sound here.]

If you’re like me, breaking promises you’ve made to yourself is a typical scenario for the month of January (not to mention sometimes for the first Monday of every week as well). After a number of years of making — and breaking – promises to myself (like the promise that I was finally going to lose my excess weight), I found that not only was I tipping the scales at more than 450 pounds, but I had also developed a very unhealthy self-loathing. This is when I realized that perhaps the fewer promises (or resolutions) I made for the new year, the better.

Back in the day, when I was wearing (out) a size 60-inch belt, I would spend most of December telling everyone (even strangers) what I planned to accomplish in the new year. Not only was I going to achieve world peace, I was also going to get skinny, be a better person, stop slouching, always pause to pet small animals and help every old lady I encountered cross the street (whether she wanted to cross the street or not).

But come New Year’s Day (often as early as 12:01 a.m.), when I realized that all of these giant goals I set for myself weren’t instantly attainable, I would start to work against them with reckless abandon — carton of fried orange chicken in one hand, bowl of ice cream in the other (and a silly straw leading from my lips to a can of diet soda for added emphasis). I felt like everyone was watching and judging me — especially since I had just spent so much time trumpeting the positive changes I was going to instantly make. So I would subconsciously do everything I could to overtly break said promises (aka goals or resolutions) in order to give people something to judge (true story!).

Then, one year, I approached the concept of goal setting and making resolutions a little differently. Sure, some of my goals were still lofty, but others were smaller and more easily attainable. Instead of giving up ice cream for the rest of my life, I decided to give it up after just one single meal (and see how that felt). Instead of committing to never eating junk food again, I opted to have more salads to balance the junk food out. And when it came to transforming myself into a supermodel, I decided that could happen instantly. Poof! I was a supermodel. Granted, I was a plus-sized one, but still…

To my surprise, this smaller, quieter way of goal setting actually began to work — mainly because I’d broken the cycle of guilt that I’d always set into play by telling anyone who’d listen all the goals I was going to accomplish at the beginning of each year. By keeping quiet, I didn’t feel compelled to check in with people (or worse, explain to them why a goal hadn’t yet been met). Without this cycle of shame, I found my goals actually had a chance to gain more traction.

And no, accomplishing these latest sets of goals wasn’t instant. Nor did changes take place overnight. In fact, one year I set out to lose all of my excess weight and began the month of January with fierce determination. Turns out, that month wasn’t going to be the kick start that I’d hoped it would be. But because I hadn’t shouted this goal from the highest mountain top, I didn’t carry around as much shame when not attaining the goal right away. This goal was between me and my psyche. And, to my surprise, this goal did start to gain momentum in March of that same year. By the following March (a year later), I had dropped more than 250 pounds of excess weight (in a sane and healthy fashion). And this healthier weight was attained through smaller, quieter goals — all approached one step (not to mention one breath) at a time.

So as you design your vision of what 2015 will hold for you, your life and your health, remember to take it slow, keep it simple and (perhaps) keep it quiet (between you and the universe). Much like that carton of fried orange chicken and the bowl of ice cream I mentioned earlier, sometimes less really is more.

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December 31, 2014

The definition of success

2:21 pm - Posted by Gregg

Who are you as this brand new year begins? How do you feel about yourself? What kind of energy are you projecting into the world? And, if I Googled you, what results would there be that define you? Answer with the first word and/or descriptor that comes to your mind…

Fabulous?

Amazing?

Incredible?

Fat?

Sadly, it’s often words like “Fat,” or phrases such as “Too big” or “Too this or that” that we would choose as the first thought that defines us as of right now. As dieters, we often think in terms of negatives - as if those depressing thoughts might motivate us to finally stick to our diet and take off some excess weight. But in my experience, keeping negative words and thoughts at the forefront of our inner dialogue can actually be pretty destructive.

Think about someone close to you. Someone you love. Someone you think hung the moon. When that person comes to mind, do you think about one of their shortcomings? Or do you think about their many qualities and the warm, fuzzy feeling you get as a result of having them in your life?

Now, think of someone you’re not a fan of. When you think of this person, do you list one of their qualities first? Or do you focus on the reason you consider them someone you really don’t want to be around?

One thinking process felt good, right? And the other? Not so good.

And yet I’m willing to bet that when you think of yourself, it’s often in the same sort of light you think of someone that you dislike or want to avoid. In other words, you’re not feeling any of the warm fuzzies in regard to yourself. And I’m here to tell you that you should. After all, you are an incredible, amazing person just as you are right now (in this very moment).

I don’t care if you have 5, 10 or 100 pounds (or more) of excess weight to lose. I don’t care if you recently lost your tempter with your significant other. I don’t care if you goofed off at work the day before yesterday. I don’t care that you haven’t quite achieved or perhaps haven’t even started working toward your goals for this new year. You are still incredible. You are still amazing. You are still perfect – right in this very moment.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to encourage you to lose excess weight, get healthier, look better and meet all of your goals. But I doubt you’re going to do it if you’re defining yourself by what you perceive to be your shortcomings. In other words, it’s time to stop defining yourself by negatives (like your excess weight) and start accentuating the positive.

When it comes to helping someone change, wouldn’t you be more likely to do anything to help the person you imagined earlier that you care about? And isn’t it just as likely that you wouldn’t really care to help the person you imagined earlier who you’d like to avoid? So why would you think that you can be down on yourself and still accomplish your goals? By filling your thoughts with shiny, happy ones, you’ll add a little pep to your step and be motivated to initiate the changes you want to see come to fruition this year.

Another example: Think of dogs. Are they more motivated by having their nose rubbed in excrement? Or by getting a loving pat and lots of praise when they do something good? You know the answer.

So yes, I want you to stop rubbing your nose in the “excrement” of past failures – not to mention defining yourself by the same. None of those failed diets, exercise plans or goals matter. They can all be counted on as great lessons about what worked and what didn’t. Today is a new day. Heck, it’s a new year. A year in which you can accomplish anything. But only if you think of yourself with love, with acceptance and with the knowledge that you got it goin’ on – even if you’re not at your ideal weight quite yet.

So let’s all give ourselves some mental hugs today, shall we? And let’s start defining ourselves by our positives, rather than our negatives. This mental channel change – and new definition of ourselves – can lead to amazing things (including weight loss, better health and a happier life).

What have you got to lose? Aside from the negative thoughts, that is?

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December 28, 2014

Hugging it out

10:37 am - Posted by Gregg

Can hugging actually help prevent getting a cold? A brand new study from Carnegie Melon University says “Yes,” according to a recent Washington Post article.

According to a Carnegie Mellon News article written by Shilo Rea, the research revealed that “perceived social support reduced the risk of infection associated with experiencing conflicts. Hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect of social support. Among infected participants, greater perceived social support and more frequent hugs both resulted in less severe illness symptoms whether or not they experienced conflicts.”

Of course, there can be a downside to hugging people during flu and cold season the researchers are quick to point out. But even so, perhaps a hug a day can (along with an apple) keep the doctor away?

To read the full Washington Post article, click here.

Photo Source: The Washington Post

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