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February 16, 2015

Scaling new heights

1:06 pm - Posted by Gregg

I make no secret of being put on strict diets since the first grade – and then continuing the tradition of different types of diets (the tried, the true, the super wacky) even after I was old enough to fully be in control of what I ate. The one thing they all had in common (besides me cheating on every single one)? They all included the key component of weighing one’s self – whether it be once a day or once a week. Thus, I quickly associated whatever number the scale was showing me with either success or failure. Nothing else mattered except that almighty number on the scale. And as that number increased over the years (to 450 pounds and more), I gave the scale more and more power. Talk about a false prophet.

This obsession with weighing myself to track my ‘progress’ (define that how you will) culminated one morning after graduating from college with my then digital scale registering no number at all. Instead, I found the scale reading, “ERR.” As many of you know, I later discovered in the scale’s manual that ‘ERR’ was the scale’s code for “Error,” as that particular scale didn’t register any weight in excess of 450 pounds.

Although a sobering experience, many more years would pass before I just stopped eating so much – and finally got my binge eating under control. Looking back, I realize that the scale was providing more than just a snarky editorial comment with ‘ERR’. It turns out I was putting way too much emphasis on what the scale was registering, when at over 450 pounds, my breathlessness and general shortage of good health (not to mention miserable social life and total lack of self worth) was already telling me everything I needed to know. I was giving the scale too much power – and this continued even into recent years, long after I’d taken and kept off over 275 pounds.

Finally, about four years ago (even after keeping most of the excess weight off for years), I realized just how much power (mental and otherwise) I was still giving the scale. If the scale was registering a higher weight, I was crushed (and this would lead to some kind of action that would further defeat my self-esteem). If the scale registered a lower number, then I was in a good mood, had pep in my step and would easily choose salad over a milkshake. But the scale was my mood setter to be sure. Thus, I picked the scale up off my bathroom floor, wrapped it in a plastic bag (to protect it from dust) and shoved it under my bed.

That’s right… I decided to just stop weighing myself… And the results were incredibly freeing.

Suddenly, I wasn’t defining myself by a number. Instead, I was getting in touch with what my clothes felt like when on. Was I fitting into my “skinny” clothes without the threat of popping a button and putting someone’s eye out? Was I feeling robust and energetic even after eating a meal? Or tired and lethargic? Without the scale to rely on, I was finding all sorts of feedback about my weight, my health and (most important of all) my attitude. To say the experience has been freeing is an understatement.

And yes, there are days the jeans are a little snug. So I amp up the exercise and add a little more vegetables and fruits to my eating repartee until the clothes are looking and feeling good again. For me, this has become a much better barometer for staying in shape than numbers on a scale that could send me into total depression were it to register 180 instead of 175.

In fact, I consider the scale such a potential downer to my self-esteem, that these days even when I weigh at the doctor’s office, I insist on keeping my eyes closed and tell the nurse to write my weight down on the chart and not to announce it. Is this a little extreme? Who the heck cares? I used to weigh over 450 pounds and now I don’t. So I think I’m allowed to be a little extreme. And I think you’re allowed to be, too!

Now, I’m not saying that using the scale to track your progress as you get rid of excess weight can’t be a good marker of your progress. But I do urge everyone reading this to think of the scale as just one tool in the battle against obesity. Do not make it your be all, end all in terms of how you’ll feel for the rest of the day, mentally. Body weight can be affected by so many different things (your hydration levels, your recent sleep patterns, salty foods you might have consumed, stress, etc.).So don’t put all of your worth into a number (whether it be higher or lower).

Think instead about how your tight jeans feel. Are they looser? Can you breathe when you sit down? And speaking of breathing, how do you feel when you’re out and about? Are you moving easily and without any shortness of breath? Are people noticing the twinkle in your eye? Do you find yourself smiling more? These are all indicators of your success and, quite frankly, mean a heck of a lot more than whatever number that scale’s registering.

So whether you follow suit and put away your scale forever, or decrease your weigh-ins from once a day or week to once a month or intervals even further apart, I urge you to take away the power that you (we!) have given the scale all these years. The number its registering has absolutely no reflection on who you are as a person. And, like me, you just might find that paying attention to other indicators proves to be a healthier – and happier – way to track your fabulosity.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your scale? Or a tape measure? Or some other tool you’re using to battle the bulge? I’d love to hear all about it. So please – post away (or a-weigh, as the case may be).

Photo Source: Momastery

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February 11, 2015

Fruit to the rescue

1:32 pm - Posted by Gregg

Although I’m not a big believer in detoxing in general, this handy chart demonstrates how easy it can be to create beverages with some nutritional value that aren’t loaded with sugars or additives. This fun and tasty combinations just might help make a hectic day calmer, while also possibly helping your immune system. So drink up — and enjoy!

Do you have your own tried-and-true fruit infused beverages that you make? Or have you added your own twist to one of the combinations suggested above? If so, please share your ideas below. Thanks!

Photo Source: Physician’s Preference

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8:21 pm - Posted by Gregg

Do you feel like Elsa from Frozen has caused too much winter havoc in your life? These days it seems lots of people are complaining about the weather, crazy snow storms, their weight or a number of other stresses ad nauseum. But we don’t necessarily have to get caught up in these “winter blues” ourselves.

No matter where you’re living, cooler weather (however you define it) can take its mental toll. But there are things we can do to cheer ourselves up and keep our attitudes in a positive mode. After all, the better our attitude, the better we do in all areas of our life – including our continual efforts to Just Stop Eating So Much! So next time Old Man Winter is nagging at you, try some of these tried and proven methods to chase Elsa’s frozen winter wonderland blues away:

Work it out!
There are no excuses when it comes to exercise. Even if you’re at your goal weight, working out helps your metabolism, your immune system and your state of mind with endorphins that actually increase your good feelings. There’s always something you can do – even in “lousy” weather. For those of you who have a copy handy, my book, Just Stop Eating So Much!, features a complete exercise program you can do at home (no gym necessary ) on page 67. Or for a list of the ‘Top 10 Indoor Exercises for Winter’: Click Here

Picture this!
Finally tackle that task of organizing the family photos. I don’t mean just the ones from this past holiday season. I’m talking about the ones you’ve been keeping in shoeboxes for years. Sure, it’s a big task and might take days to accomplish. But “accomplish” is the key word. By making albums (digital or otherwise) for yourself (and maybe even friends and family members) you’ll feel like you’re really accomplishing something and that will really motivate you in other areas of your life as well. For some helpful tips on organizing photos:Click Here

Rediscover the great outdoors!
Even if there’s tons of snow on the ground, you can still get outside for a quick (if slushy) walk around the block. The fresh air is good for you – even in small, blustery doses. Plus, the change of scenery (from inside to outside) does a lot for our mental well-being. For a guide to preparing for and enjoying winter weather walks: Click Here

Sleep tight!
Believe it or not, it’s not always lethargy that leaves us feeling anxious and depressed. It’s important to get plenty of rest during the winter months. When you’re overtired, you’re overwhelmed. And sleeping late one day does not make up for sleep lost during the rest of the week. So make sure to get all the sleep you need – every night of the week. For some ideas on how to get a better night’s rest: Click Here

Laugh it up!
Change your mood instantly with a funny book or DVD. There are lots of great TV shows on DVD or via online streaming services that allow you to check out several episodes all at once. For Reader’s Digest’s list of the Best Sitcoms Ever: Click Here

There are also some amusing books that can “take you away from it all” and can tickle your funny bone at the same time. To check out a list of what some consider to be very funny books: Click Here

Photo Source: UKGOVECAMP

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February 3, 2015

Your psyche is listening

5:02 pm - Posted by Gregg

Repeat after me: You. Are. Amazing! In fact, you are perfect in this very moment. No matter what wonderful, life-changing goals you might have set out for yourself.

You can accomplish those goals. Trust me… You can. But you’re likely to accomplish said goals a lot faster (and while being a lot happier) if you think of yourself and speak of yourself as a friend, rather than someone you detest.

Your brain hears you. Your mind hears you. The world hears you. So let the world and, more important, yourself hear the news: You are the most incredible, most beautiful, most fabulous person ever! And yeah… A supermodel! (Believe it!)

Photo Source: Spark People

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January 29, 2015

Mourning cereal

10:49 am - Posted by Gregg

Believe it or not, way back when when I was tipping the scales at 450+-pounds, I would go through a box of cereal in 2-3 days. My “trick” for accomplishing such a feat was to nibble as much cereal as I was pouring into the bowl. Had I bothered to check the suggested serving size, I would have seen that I was eating for 4. Of course, my 60-inch waist sort of made that clear already. Needless to say, I wasn’t paying attention.

To this day, I crave and love breakfast cereal. To the point of obsession. Because of this, there have been times that I’ve considered cutting it out of my diet altogether. But with a bunch of healthy cereal options available today along with the fact that cereal is a fast, convenient and delicious way to have breakfast (one of the most important meals of the day – whether on or off a diet), cereal is something I wanted to learn to live with.

But even when preparing cereal today (at 175-pounds), I still feel the urge to pour cereal into the bowl while also having a ‘cereal appetizer’ while standing at the counter. If I didn’t regulate myself, I could easily go through a third of a box of cereal or more. That’s why I never trust myself to pour cereal freely. Instead, I pour it into a measuring cup before I pour it into my breakfast bowl and add my sliced banana. And for what it’s worth, I measure the 2% milk I use, as well.

This might come as a surprise to some of you reading this. Most people assume that because I’ve kept my 250 pounds of excess weight off for over a decade, that I’ve got this weight thing beat. That’s true in some respects. But part of what keeps the excess weight off is knowing that I’ll never really have it beat and that I can never let my guard down. My daily food intake is something I’m always thinking about, planning for and paying attention to. Not in a mentally unhealthy way, but in a efficient way. Or weigh, as the case may be.

Whenever I reveal to fellow dieters that I must still pay attention to and even sometimes measure my food portions, they often register disappointment – as if they thought that once you take the weight off, you magically never have to think about dieting again. But in truth, this ‘food and health consciousness’ must become a part of ourselves that we never leave behind (even during those times when we decide it’s okay to have ice cream – or whatever – as a treat).

This need to ‘stay on top of what and how much I eat’ is reiterated almost daily for me – usually when I’m preparing breakfast and pouring breakfast cereal. I know that I can’t be trusted. So even though I’ve been “thin” for years and happily fit into my skinny jeans, I still get the measuring cup out and measure the exact amount of cereal necessary for a healthy and low calorie breakfast. It could be argued that, by now, I should know what a ‘cup’ holds. But when it comes to cereal and other ‘tempting foods,’ I know that my mind’s version of a cup full and real life’s version of a cup full are two very different things.

In other words: When it comes to cereal, the measuring cup is my friend.

But none of this has to be bad news. No matter what your most tempting foods are, you can still have them – in moderation and in healthy portions. And with tools like measuring cups, we can ‘eat like a thin person’ and not overdo it to the point of triggering a binge, stuffing ourselves to the point of discomfort or making our skinny clothes feel too tight.

What are your tempting foods? Do you still allow yourself to have them even if on some sort of weight loss program? Or do you try and avoid the foods for the time being? I’d love to hear from you on this topic. We can even discuss over a bowl of cereal. Assuming you’ve got a measuring cup I can borrow.

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