Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 12 Progress

12 Weeks into the program and I'm wondering how everyone is doing.  Prozium is keeping on track and doing a great job!

Let's talk a little about salt today.  Did you know that most Americans eat about 3500 mg of salt per day?  The 2010 guidelines recommend only 2300 mg per day at most.  And if you suffer from high blood pressure or kidney disease or if you're over 51 years old, you should try to limit it to 1500 mg per day. 

Table salt is sodium chloride and is thus 40% sodium.  ONE teaspoon of salt is approximately 6 grams and that's about 2300 mg of sodium, which is the upper edge of the recommended limit per day.  So most people shouldn't even be adding any salt to their diet each day. 

Packaged, processed and fast foods all contain a great deal of salt in them.  Here are some of the everyday items that have lots of salt in them already:  breads and rolls, cured meats, cold cuts, pizza, soups, cheese, sandwiches, pasta dishes, cheeseburgers, potato chips, pretzels, popcorn.  You will note that these are all packaged foods and none of them are whole foods - there is no fruits or vegetables or whole grains on this list.

So the next time you pick up a salt shaker, think about it.  If you'd like to read more information on guidelines for a low sodium diet, go here.

Good luck this week!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 11 Progress

How is everyone doing? 

Lori wrote in last week and said she went ice skating and each week she's going to try a different activity.  Great idea!  Not only will she be burning calories, but she's doing something fun.  That's a win-win situation.  She's still looking for ideas on how to keep from getting bored with her new diet/exercise routine, so please offer up some suggestions.

Being active while staying on your diet is an important part of losing weight.  Remember, 3500 calories = 1 pound.  You need to burn 3500 more calories than what you consume in order to lose 1 pound.  An easy way to break that down is to use up 500 more calories each day than what you take in and you should lose about 1 pound that week.  500 x 7 = 3500.

If you're wondering how many calories you can burn for different exercises, go to the Mayo Clinic page for a really good chart.

See you next week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 10 Progress

TEN weeks!  Way to go everyone who is still following along.  And if you're here for the first time, feel free to jump in.  This is NOT a contest.  It's just a place to come and share your progress reports, tips and questions.

Prozium and Doctor Who had good progress reports last week - keep up the good work.  I suggest everyone go back to last weeks comments section and read what they both had to say.  I also wanted to thank Chip for coming by and sharing 2 days worth of information with us.  He has an excellent Excel worksheet that he made up and is willing to share with anyone - for free!  Go back and read his posts here and here

Lori had a valid question this week:  So I was wondering what everyone did to make their healthy eating and exercise interesting to stop getting bored from doing the same thing. 

Yes, it is easy to sometimes get bored with a routine or diet.  You could try sitting down and writing up a list of different things to try.  Maybe 3 days a week you can walk or run.  2 days a week do stretching exercises.  Put on some music and dance 3 days a week.  Use light hand weights 2 days a week.  Go biking or hiking.  How about swimming?  Do you have access to a basketball and a hoop?  Search on u tube for some exercise video's to follow along with.  Join a yoga group, kick boxing, strength training, etc. 

Try this:  while you're walking, speed walk for one minute, then regular walk for one minute, speed walk for 2 minutes, regular walk for 2 minutes - continue until you do a mile, or 2 miles, or 5 miles.  Whatever you can do. 

When it comes to food, make a list of different healthy meals you'd like to try.  One excellent blog I can recommend is Peas and Crayons.  Jen has a bachelor's in Dietetics and I guarantee that you will find food inspiration on her blog.  And it's all healthy choices.  Go check her out.

So please leave some of your ideas for not getting bored in the comments section below.  Let's see if we can come up with some ideas for Lori.

Tony isn't a licensed nutritionist yet, so he can't give anyone advice on what  to do.  Please consult your doctor for his professional opinion on a diet/nutrition program that will work for you.

Tony's blog is a journal of his experiences and what has worked for him.   He lists general guidelines and suggestions only.  He is NOT a professional.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Guest Post - Chip part 2

Today is part 2 of our interview with Chip.  If you missed part 1 from yesterday, go back and read it   here.

Tell us about the Excel spreadsheet you're using.

As I said, I haven’t been counting calories as I should, and so I needed to know whether what I was doing with my nutrition and fitness was actually working.  I bought a Tanita bathroom scale that measures weight and body fat percentage, and it gives me some of the feedback that I need.  But I wasn’t always recording my weight and body fat percentage, so I didn’t have a good way of looking back to see whether I was moving in the right direction, especially with the body fat percentage.  Using the spreadsheet has shown me that I have basically hit a plateau, as far as my weight and my fat/lean ratio.

I usually go to my PC in the morning after I weigh myself (to check email, news, facebook, etc.), so I decided to use the PC as a tool to record those numbers.  I made a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to do that, and I added formulas to automatically calculate my fat body mass and my lean body mass.  Then I added a line graph, so I could visualize my progress over time.  If the line representing my lean body mass is going up and the line representing my fat body mass is going down, I know I am headed in the right direction; otherwise, I know I need to change something.  I saved the spreadsheet to my PC’s “desktop,” so I can just click on the icon and my spreadsheet comes right up.  Here is what a page of the spreadsheet looks like:

A lot of people want to start a diet program, but don't know where or how to start.  For someone who is sitting at home reading this, what is your best advice to them on how to get up off the sofa and begin? 
I think each person’s motivation for weight loss is different.  But I would tell that person to first visualize what he or she would want to look like or be like, if that could somehow magically happen.  Then, I would say that, even though it won’t happen by magic, it can happen.  We know that there are proven ways to do it.  In fact, if that person is reading this blog site, he or she has seen the amazing results that are possible. I would tell the person to think about reasonable and achievable short-term goals and how meeting that first goal would affect the reasons he or she wanted to change in the first place.  Seeing that I could reach the intermediate goals that I had set for myself gave me “early wins” and that success keeps me motivated to set and reach my next intermediate goal.  So I would tell that person that, with the right information, even moderate changes in diet and activity can move you closer to that image of what you wanted to look like or be like. And as you start to like what you see happening, you will get excited about making further changes that will get you to your own ultimate goals.  

Lets talk about the passion4profession 8-minute, level-1, ab workout video on YouTube that you used.

The only regular exercise I had been doing was stomach crunches holding a 13-pound dumbbell on my chest, and while that was increasing the size of my abdominal muscles, I wasn’t losing the fat on the sides of my waist.  So I was looking for a better routine.  I searched the web and found a series of YouTube videos with three levels of 8-minute abdominal muscle workouts.  Level 1 can be seen here.  In addition to this workout video, the main passion4profession YouTube site, located here , has other ab workout videos, videos for other muscle groups, and videos that show you how to do each exercise properly.  The videos use 3D animation to highlight the muscles that are worked by each exercise.  By the way, some of your videos showed up on the “Recommended” section on the right-hand side of the passion4profession YouTube videos, and that is how I discovered your blog.
Any other tips or suggestions you'd like to share?

I guess my experience has shown that it is important to approach weight loss and fitness as a lifestyle change, rather than as a temporary change in eating and exercise.  For that reason, I would suggest that people spend some time getting to understand the basics of nutrition and fitness and the types of food and exercise that are likely to help us reach our goals.  Then, from among those choices, we can select a balanced set of foods that we find appealing and enjoyable, and we can find ways to exercise that we actually like to do.  Listen to music while exercising, running or swimming, if that makes it more fun for you.  (Yes, you can listen to music or even read an audiobook while swimming, using a waterproof mp3 player, such as “Swimp3” .  It uses bone conduction instead of earbuds.)  By doing those things, we can maintain our weight loss and fitness, because it doesn’t feel like we are depriving ourselves of the things that we enjoy.

Also, I know first-hand that stress can cause weight gain and low levels of fitness.  And sometimes, our weight gain itself causes us even more stress, such as when we worry about our weight or when other people comment about it.  It can become a vicious cycle.  So taking steps to reduce chronic stress can be an important factor in reducing body fat and developing muscle.  I have learned that extended periods of stress can cause the body to secrete higher-than-normal levels of a hormone called cortisol.  Elevated cortisol can interfere with the body’s glucose metabolism, cause muscle deterioration, and result in the excess abdominal fat that is associated with higher risks for hypertension, stroke and heart problems.  Ironically, the regular exercise that I didn’t think I had the time for, could actually have reduced the stress that came with my job, and I might have avoided the belly fat that accounted for most of my weight gain.

Finally, it is never too early, and it is never too late, to improve your diet and exercise.  Not only do you feel healthier and more attractive, but you actually start to feel better about yourself in other ways.  And you realize that your other goals in life are achievable, too.  But the earlier you begin, the sooner you can achieve that image of yourself that you visualized as your ultimate goal.

If anyone would like a copy of the Excel worksheet, leave a message in the comments section below for Chip so he can get a copy to you.  I'd like to thank Chip for coming by and sharing his story with us.  He has some great insights and shared some great tips.  See everyone on Monday for our weekly progress reports!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest Post - Chip

Today I'd like to welcome Chip as our guest blogger this week.  Chip's going to share his diet experience and tomorrow share some techniques and an Excel program that he created.

Would you care to share your first name and age?
 My name is Chip, and I am 58 years old.

How long have you been overweight? 
I was a thin kid, and I maintained a healthy weight until I was in my forties without doing anything special.  After that, I have had several episodes of being overweight, losing weight, and regaining the weight.

What was your highest weight and what is your goal weight?

My highest weight was 192, which was considerably overweight for my 5’ 7” height.  At 145 to 147 lbs, I am probably fairly close to my goal weight, but I would like to reduce my body fat percentage, which is now about 16%, to between 12% and 13%, and that is proving to be more difficult.  That is why I was looking for a more carefully planned approach to nutrition and fitness, and that is how I discovered this blog site and why I am finding it to be so helpful.   

Before beginning your new diet program, what do you feel contributed to you being overweight? 
I worked for over 32 years in a large city for a Federal regulatory agency, first as an investigator and then as a supervisor and a manager.  I was passionate about my job, but I worked mostly sitting at a desk in my office, and the work was so fast-paced that I felt that I had very little time to eat healthy foods or to get exercise during the day.  I would get my breakfast, two donuts or a coffee cake and coffee, from the gas station or convenience store on my way to the commuter train, and I would eat on the train as I worked at my laptop.   For lunch, I would usually just go outside of the office building to a hot dog vendor to buy two hot dogs on white-bread buns, a package of cookies, and a bottle of soda, and then eat at my desk while I continued working in order to meet a deadline. I drank coffee all day, to the point where I needed it constantly to avoid headaches.  My meals at night and on weekends were healthier, because I ate what my wife and son ate.  But I didn’t make time for exercise, and I never passed up the sweets and salty snacks. 
How active were you?

I didn’t play a lot of organized sports as a kid, but I learned how to swim, and I was a lifeguard when I was in high school and a swimming instructor from the time I was in college until my late twenties.  I swam before or after lifeguarding or giving swimming lessons.  Since then, I have walked, swam laps, and run, but not regularly enough to really benefit me.

Currently, I am just doing mat exercises, some of them with a 15-pound dumbbell to add resistance.  I have known that resting muscle tissue burns more calories than resting fat tissue, so I have tried to increase my muscle mass in order to speed up my weight loss.  I have focused on my core abdominal muscles, because I can do ab exercises at home, at whatever time of day I can fit it in.  But, having recently found your blog, I am learning about the benefits of weight training, and I am planning on beginning a more well-rounded fitness routine that includes weights and light cardiovascular exercise.   
Do you count calories, fats, carbs?  Describe a typical day’s menu now.

No, I don’t count calories, fats, or carbs.  But after reading your blog, I realize that I need to do all of those things to reach my fitness goals.  That is one of the reasons why I find your blog to be so helpful.  You cover topics that relate to me and, in one place, you provide information and resources that have made me want to do this the right way.

 Right now, I eat a bowl of whole grain cereal with about 15 blueberries or a whole wheat thin-bagel with peanut butter or almond butter in the morning.  For lunch, I eat a piece of chicken breast, turkey breast, or fish on a salad, and I eat a piece of chicken breast, turkey breast or fish with green vegetables for dinner.  At night, I may have some fruit or a fruit smoothie.
Why do you feel your prior diets failed and what are you doing differently so far this time? 
I have lost weight in the past, only to regain it. That was because my past diets were fairly extreme, and I couldn’t maintain them as a lifestyle.  Once I reached my weight goal, I allowed myself to return to the habits that had gotten me overweight in the first place.

What is the most difficult thing for you to give up or stay away from?

Soda, for sure.  Regular soda has too many calories, so I have been drinking diet soda, sometimes with an ounce or two of fruit juice or some blueberries or raspberries.  I know that water would be a lot healthier for me, but I just don’t like drinking it.  Maybe you or one of your readers can suggest a way for me to enjoy water.

What is your main motivation this time?

It’s funny that I read a recent guest blogger on your site say that at his age, 31, it would the last time he would be able to make healthy changes to his nutrition and fitness.  I know that it would have been better for me if I had made those healthy changes at age 31 like he did, instead of at age 58.  But I still want to do all I can to live as long as possible, and to continue to be in good health for my family.  That is what motivates me.

Have you told anyone close to you about your diet goals or have you kept them to yourself?

Other than my wife, I have kept my goals to myself.  But most people who know me realize that I am being careful about what and how much I eat.  For example, when I go out to eat, people see me ordering salad dressing on the side, and occasionally dipping the end of my fork into the dressing before I put the fork in the salad, instead of pouring it all over my salad before I eat it.

 It sounds like Chip has a pretty good handle on what he's doing.  He made some valid points when he mentioned that resting muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.  That's a great tip to remember. 

As far as ideas for drinking water - my mom drinks her water with lemon slices in it quite often.  When she wants to change it up, she slices up a fresh mango, freezes the pieces and then tosses a few frozen slices of mango and a few thin slices of fresh ginger in her water.  Some people like to add fresh mint as well.  Give it a try.

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of Chips post and find out about his Excel worksheet.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week 9 Progress

Week 9 brings us to the beginning of March - how is everyone doing?  For many of us, we are beginning to get spring fever and spring is just around the corner.  Now's a good time to start thinking of ways to expand your exercise routines to include some time outdoors.  Walking, hiking and biking are 3 excellent ways to get in some cardio.  What other ideas do you have?

This week I have a guest post by Chip lined up for Wednesday and Thursday.  Chip has put together an interesting spread sheet that he uses to track his progress and he's promised to share it with anyone who may be interested. 

Chip also brought up a good point in his post.  He mentioned that he gets bored drinking regular water and was looking for some ideas on how to improve the taste.  One of the easiest ways is to use fresh  fruit.  My mom uses lemon slices a lot.  She also likes to chop up a mango and freeze the pieces.  Then when she's drinking either water or iced tea, she adds a couple of pieces of the frozen mango and a slice or 2 of fresh ginger.

Here's some other ideas:
  • peaches
  • pineapple
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • sliced cucumber
  • lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit
  • fresh mint
Or you can mix and match to make a sort of fruit sangria:  start with a quart of water and add 4 slices each of lime, lemon and orange.  Cut up a peach and also add about 1 cup of chunked pineapple.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for about 4 hours.  Enjoy!

I'm looking forward to hearing how everyone is doing.  See you on Wednesday for part 1 of Chips post.

Tony isn't a licensed nutritionist yet, so he can't give anyone advice on what  to do.  Please consult your doctor for his professional opinion on a diet/nutrition program that will work for you.

Tony's blog is a journal of his experiences and what has worked for him.   He lists general guidelines and suggestions only.  He is NOT a professional.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Trans Fats

When you have foods that contain fat in them they have the potential to turn rancid.  For that reason manufacturers want to keep the fat in the food but increase its shelf life.  They can do that by sometimes adding trans fatty acids through a process called hydrogenation. 
Manufacturers sometimes purposely hydrogenate oils because it increases the stability and shelf life.  This way some very high fat snack foods can stay on the shelf for many years without going bad.  If you look at the ingredient list you may see that it contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.  That's a key that this food does have trans fatty acids.  
Trans fatty acids have the capacity to raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

Trans fatty acids tend to be in foods that we shouldn't really be eating a lot of anyway.  Stuff like baked goods, margarine or shortening.

You really don't need any trans fats in your diet.

To read more on trans fats, you can go here, here and here.

Tony isn't a licensed nutritionist yet, so he can't give anyone advice on what  to do.  Please consult your doctor for his professional opinion on a diet/nutrition program that will work for you.

Tony's blog is a journal of his experiences and what has worked for him.   He lists general guidelines and suggestions only.  He is NOT a professional.