- Bring snacks - Have some go to snacks in your bag at all times so you never get in too much trouble. Remember, being hangry never makes for fun holiday time. And if you wait too long between meals, your metabolism will not work in your favor and you will overeat at your next meal. Pre-portioned packages of nuts, fresh fruit, cut up veggies, whole wheat crackers, jerky and bars made of real, clean ingredients like nuts, dried fruits and spices are usually the best bets for non perishable. If you are not traveling far, a sandwich or some yogurt could be a good on the go snack.
- Keep meal times consistent, especially that mid afternoon meal. When traveling we often miss our meal timing and go into dinner starving which usually gets us in trouble. Stay mindful during the mid afternoon.
- Say yes…and say no. Often on vacation we say yes to everything because “why not-we are on vacation!” or because we are with people that we feel we have to say yes to everything. I highly encourage you to say “yes” when you want to and I accept there are times you have to, but say “no” too! Stick up for yourself and do what you want. And find some moderation while on holiday.
- Drink water. We often feel hungry and crave sweets when all we actually need is some water. And airplanes and hotel rooms are usually very dehydrating. Bring a water bottle with you and drink up!
- Be a planner. If you can, plan the day you want. Do what feels right for you. Fit in a workout, or go to a restaurant where you can get what you want, or plan a stress free fun filled day that is ideal for you.
- Where can you walk? Get those steps in! Often just walking throughout the holiday is a way to keep your weight under control. Plan your trip around walking to have fun and get your exercise in.
- How can you be active? Can you use the hotel gym? Or is there a workout class you can fit in to your schedule? Or go on a hike, bike ride or activity so you are active while on vacation?
- Order smart. Be strategic in your ordering. Find your vegetables, non fried foods, leaner proteins and whole grains. Be a little high maintenance when you can and order what will work for you and your plan.
- Find some buddies. Do you have a family member, coworker or friend on your trip who can support you? Get a buddy so you can eat right and exercise. Reach out to them before the trip if you can to make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
- Visualize yourself moving forward and not back - don’t assume you are going to gain 10 pounds. See yourself coming back lighter!
- Have fun while being healthy! It is often considered a “downer” to eat healthy and workout on a trip. I don’t totally relate to this one but I know this is a truth. So find ways to see eating right, being active, not sabotaging yourself as FUN! Imagine that?
- Put yourself first. Eat how you want, be active, live your life so you see the results you want. I know this isn’t always possible on trips since so much is out of your control, but when you can, go for it!
- Savor the splurges. Of course there will be treats, sweets and splurges. Enjoy each bite, each moment and savor it.
- Alcohol Alcohol Alcohol - Of course you are going to drink, and I have yet to tell someone to stop drinking to lose weight, but I am certain everyone can drink less. So, do not drink just to drink – the calories add up!
January 5, 2016
October 12, 2015
All righty…Back to our regularly scheduled program….
Back in the Saddle
A few months ago, I fell off a horse. Yes, I just wrote that. And I am being literal – I have started horseback riding and I literally, fell off the darn horse. I used to ride as a kid and am loving getting back into it. Wow it is fun! But my goodness, it is difficult! I do not remember it being such a workout but am loving every minute, except falling off…
- Asked for help. I reached out to my network of health providers and injury specialists to get me feeling better. A mix of getting my bones back in place, muscle work and stabilization and good advice all certainly helped.
- I kept moving! I went swimming everyday, Pilates and whatever type of exercise I could do that did not cause pain. Doing nothing would have been the worst thing for me, but so often we think that is best.
- Took it slow, rested and avoided doing anything seriously stupid.
How we handle those setbacks is crucial to behavior change. Keep moving forward.
Put one foot in front of the other, breathe, believe in yourself and know you will get through this. Eating well and exercise is not always going to be “perfect” and work accordingly to plan. Regardless, take baby steps towards your goal and you will get there.
You got this.
I heard this expression with regards to meal timing the other day and had to share. A fellow sports dietitian suggested to her athletes not to make their day “bottom heavy” – meaning, do not save all your calories and food for the end of the day. Such a good visual when you think about planning your day.
Visualize your day as steady and consistent – a tube filled with water flowing through at an even rate. If you do not plan your meals correctly, the water flows too fast through the tube and there is a clog at the end.
You all know by now what a stickler I am about meal timing – I think it could change the word! Let us use this as a moment to refresh. I believe the WHEN of eating is more important than the WHAT. Often if you figure out the WHEN, the WHAT sorts itself out.
I highly encourage you to:
- Eat within an hour of waking
- Eat every 3-4 hours thereafter
- Eat within an hour pre and post workout
I notice all the time that most of our poor food decisions are due to not appropriately planning the day.If you go too long without food our metabolism does not work efficiently and then when you do decide to eat, we usually eat too much and store more of that food as fat.
Visualize your day and spread out your calories more evenly to prevent the see-saw from being heavy on one side or loading all the calories too late in the day to make your day bottom heavy.
When you plan your meals better, your energy improves, you will likely achieve your ideal weight, cravings subside and it is much easier to think about food in a rational way. If you wait too long between meals you get hangry and can rarely make a good decision when you are hungry…and angry.
Set alarms in your phone, set meal times in your calendar, think about your day the night before…set yourself up for success. Do not make your day bottom heavy – spread those meals out!
October 6, 2015
Been in the mood lately to watch others taking on deathly adventures. Not sure what that means…but I recently watched the film Meru and just finished the book The Martian and loved them. Highly recommend both if you are a wanna-be-adrenaline-junkie like myself. Wow! Both describe unreal events….climbing uncharted territory and hanging from a mountain during a storm in a portaledge which scares the heck out of me (this picture says it all and takes my breath away) and surviving being stranded on a freezing desert planet….on another planet…by yourself! (I realize the book is fiction but listening to it on Audible, I really felt like I was right there with Mark Watney, holy moly)
Anyways, I digress, back to my point! What is my point? Right. My point is, in both of these insane stories, it all comes down to food. See how I did that? The nutrition nerd cannot help herself! Having enough food for fuel. And using food for just that – fuel. Fuel to keep your body running so you can function and do incredible things, like climb up a mountain or survive Mars.
We have all heard that term before – “Use food for fuel!” but how many of us actually think about it? We are so fortunate to have food available to us at all times. The majority of us are not starving nor hungry out of lack of resources. There is food accessible 24/7, food will be delivered right to your door, food is plentiful no matter the season, weather conditions or life circumstance. And how often do we look at food as fuel? We look at food and consider flavor, satisfaction, satiety, emotions, memories, comfort, cravings, social situation, price, status, preparation, convenience….but how often do we notice that food is fuel for energy?
The truth is, the number one thing that food provides is calories, which is energy. It is essential to our survival. And only when we hear incredible stories such as the guys on Meru or a man surviving Mars do we see how it really comes down to what you eat to survive a day.
Shall we all quasi starve ourselves and only eat the minimum to survive? No.
Shall we never enjoy a treat for celebration? Of course not.
Shall we never go to a comfort mood simply because we want to? Nope.
But, with each bite, appreciate what you have. And look at your plate and notice if you are eating a nutritiously dense plate of food with proteins, carbohydrates and fats so you are truly fueling yourself. Be grateful that you are not counting calories to survive, but use food to fuel the wonderful things you want to accomplish in a day.
Remember, your brain survives off glucose, which is sugar! So when you are deep in thought or highly productive, know that your food provided that moment.
Your eyes need sugar to see. When you are looking at something beautiful, thank your food for fueling your eyes to see.
When you accomplish a physical challenge, whether it be your morning workout, playing with your kids, trying something new or climbing a mountain, thank your food for giving your cells the fuel to take that step forward.
Be mindful, and appreciative for each bite. Use food to fuel you forward!
September 22, 2015
Deprivation and Guilt are two words that have been on my mind a lot. Not necessarily due to my own actions, but when I think of my clients and study participants. So often, someone knows exactly what they need to do to eat healthily, they have everything in their favor to be successful, yet it does not happen.
Instead, they vacillate between deprivation and guilt. They go on a super strict, extreme plan and deprive themselves of food….and then they cannot take it anymore, overeat and feel guilty.
What a vicious, frustration cycle to be stuck in! What can we do to get out of this?
To be honest, I am not certain. Many individuals I know are struggling with this and some are having more success than others to get out of it. Here are some suggestions:
Be honest with yourself – do you fall into this cycle? As I have been suggesting this topic to more and more folks, their eyes get wide as they realize this characterizes them so well, yet no one has explained it. Maybe…just maybe…when you become aware that you are in this struggle, you will stop being so all or nothing and find a way to get some balance.
Find a way to motivate yourself…that works for you. We all work in different ways. Some of us need accountability, some of us work well with rules and structure, some of us need more education…whatever it is, figure out what is going to motivate you. YOU. What is going to motivate you to stay on track?
You are worth it! Why live in such a destructive cycle of deprivation and guilt? It is exhausting and no fun. Believe in you. You can do this. You can live a life in balance without food causing such destruction.
As I said, I am not quite certain how to get around this one…but it is becoming my passion to support you to find balance. Balance, peace and joy with food. Imagine that?
“I hate to waste food”
I have heard this excuse several times in the last few weeks so thought it was time to bring it up. A common thought clients have when they discuss their struggles with portion size, is that they really hate to waste food and feel obliged to eat it rather than let food go to waste.
While I am touched by the thoughtfulness, I cannot let this be the reason why we overeat. Because here is the deal…if you do leave food on your plate, that food is not going to go to a starving child or homeless person. That food is going to be thrown away. I fully support making efforts to create less waste, but ultimately if you are overeating your meal due to not wanting to waste food, it is a lose-lose situation. The person in need is not getting that food…and you overate!
So…to help yourself:
When eating at home, only serve yourself enough for one portion. Whether you eat family style or pre portioned plates, put the appropriate amount of food for you on your plate to prevent wasting. And have plenty of containers at home for leftovers and storage.
If you are eating out, ask for a to go box at the beginning of the meal so you can pre portion your food and get two servings out of a meal. Or portion out what you want and leave leftovers on your plate for a to go box. Or order less. Get an appetizer instead of an entree or split with someone you are eating with.
And to help others in need:
So lets scratch this excuse off the list ok?
September 13, 2015
My best friend’s father has lost a nice chunk of weight in the last few years – so proud of him! When I asked him how he did it, he said his doctor provided some simple advice.. Eat less and move more. His doctor also asked him what is his favorite food, to which he responded easily, “chocolate milkshakes” and his doctor suggested have one milkshake a month. Not weekly or daily, but do not deprive oneself of a favorite food. Enjoy it as a monthly treat.
Well it worked! He is down in weight, has created a sustainable change and it didn’t “hurt” that much because he never deprived himself or felt like he was on a “diet.” He truly created a lifestyle change.
So what is your favorite food? That one item you love, sometimes space out thinking about and crave? Enjoy it…monthly. Not daily. Not weekly. Not just because. Enjoy it monthly because you want it and savor it…then move on.
I think I have a few favorites on my list…See’s dark chocolate bordeaux is coming to mind…and I do tend to walk in that store monthly for a treat…
Eliminating all food from your diet rarely gets you far. We usually find a way to sneak things in and often when we avoid foods for too long, when we indulge, we go BIG. HUGE. So instead of a bingeing moment, lets catch it before things get out of hand. I enjoy 2-3 chocolates instead of 5-6.
So enjoy that chocolate milkshake once a month Larry! And keep up the great work!
September 1, 2015
It’s September 1st and for many of you, it feels like a new year with school starting, routines changing and feeling the need to get back on track. While I am not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would take advantage of your motivation and love of “jumpstarts and challenges” to fire you up and get you living well and healthy.
So set a goal. Make it reasonable, extremely specific and in line with where you want to go. It doesn’t have to solve all your concerns and fix everything – just needs to get you headed in the right direction.
See below for some topics to get you started.
Remember – be specific! Decide number of times per day/week, portion sizes and times of day to make expectations of yourself clear and organized. “Eat better and lose weight” is not a goal!
- Eat breakfast!
- Eat every 3-4 hours
- Make half your plate for lunch and dinner vegetables
- Drink half your weight in pounds, in ounces of water per day – that is a starting place for how much water you need. You should be urinating often and clear-ish in color.
- Decrease your current alcohol intake – negotiate a new drink limit for yourself
- How many sweets do you have per week? Have less
- Cut out processed food! Focus on whole, clean eating
- If you focus on cardio work, add a strength training workout to your routine
- If you focus on strength training, add a cardio workout to your routine
- Learn how to cook something! And learn how to cook it in bulk to provide leftovers
- Notice the added sugars in your life…and decrease it
- Sit quietly for 5 minutes – breathe and let go
- Focus on mindful eating - be aware of what you eat, eat slowly, eat quietly and notice if it changes your habits and portions
- Stand up and walk for 3-5 minutes twice a day during your work day. Get moving!
- Trying something new, fun and crazy! Get out of your comfort zone and go for it! Try a new workout, go take a class, eat a new food – something new!
Fall is almost here and I love this time of year. Even though it is 80 degrees here and we don’t really have seasons in SF, I am a sucker for fall foliage, and excited to enjoy my sweaters and scarves, coziness and apple cider soon.
Happy New Year everyone!!!
August 28, 2015
A common frustration and concern I hear as folks learn how to eat better or pay more attention to food is that they are now “hyper-focused and obsessed” with what they are eating…”is this healthy?”
“I am reading every ingredient, I am asking waiters what is in all the food I order, I am looking at menus before I go to restaurants, I am thinking about food differently now that I know where my food comes from…am I obsessed? This can’t be good…right?”
It is tricky as of course, I do not want to spark disordered eating or a clinical eating disorder, but many are surprised that I am usually ok with this pattern…and here is why.
- It will get easier - when you start this process, it involves a lot of work and attention. However, it gets easier. You learn recipes that work for you, grocery shopping becomes a quick errand, you will be an ordering pro and it all becomes habitual rather than effortful.
- I like everyone paying more attention to food! We need to! So many of us do not know what we are putting in our bodies and that scares me. We eat mindlessly and have no awareness of our food habits, the choices we make around food and most of us are not taking ownership in our decisions around food. I want you to be mindful! I want you to be aware. That is the only way you are going to achieve success.
While I am not trying to make you all neurotic…I am ok with a little crazy. A little obsessiveness may do you some good. Just a bit…
I mean, I am totally normal right? You see? It all works out.
When it comes to nutrition, there are only a few things I am certain of, and one of them is eat breakfast. I do believe it is the most important meal of the day and an absolute game changer when it comes to managing physical and emotional hunger.
I saw on the Today Show a segment on how breakfast should be skipped to lose weight…my heart skipped a beat, worried about how this was going to play out on TV…and thank goodness afellow dietitian, Keri Glassman, RD spoke beautifully about the importance of nutrition and breakfast. Phew! Watch the segment here.
Reasons to eat breakfast:
- Decreases stress hormones, allowing your body to burn fat and metabolize efficiently
- Helps manage cravings throughout the day, overall daily caloric intake will likely be lower
- Manage emotional hunger and mood – start your day with fuel to prevent getting “hangry” or making less healthy food choices later
- Fuels morning workouts and allows for proper recovery
***I will provide the disclaimer, there are a handful of clients who have tried to eat breakfast at my suggestion, and after trying it for a few weeks they notice they feel worse and have gained weight. My answer is – make it work for you! If you try breakfast consistently for a month and it is not working for you, then find a strategy that works. Ultimately that is what is most important.
Need some breakfast ideas?
- Quick plain oats, cinnamon and fresh or frozen fruit – topped with yogurt or milk
- Eggs, toss some veggies, olives and hot sauce on top – toast on the side
- Sweet potato, eggs
- Lean sausage, veggie, starch
- Yogurt or cottage cheese, nuts and fruit
- Smoothie with yogurt or milk, 1 serving of fruit and some greens
Try breakfast consistently for a month and let me know how it goes. Keep me posted. Start your day off right!