December 2007

“It’s Resolution Time! Bah, Humbug!”

I hate New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I resolutely refuse to ever make them. They are a set up; bound to fail, traps to make you feel a certain kind of ‘resolve’, ‘determination’, and fortitude with which to tackle the goals that have eluded you these last few months, years, decades?!

And then, boom! The energy of that desire fades away, real life comes into play, you go off the diet, or stop exercising for one, two three weeks, and then before you know it, it is a thing of the past. Yet one more failure to tuck into the backdrop of your mind, one more failure that the obnoxious voice in your head loves to seize on to remind you, that, in fact, you are the loser, wimp, (You get to fill in the blank, okay, have I revealed enough?!) and berate you at moments when you are stressed, your energy is at an all time low, and all you can think are negative thoughts.

So, can we agree to bag the New Years’ Resolutions? Okay, if you are unwilling to bag them completely, and find this a convenient time to search your soul, buy some new running shoes and commit to an exercise/diet program, can you at least be reasonably realistic with this?!

So, this is our new New Year’s Real Life Resolution: We will find food and exercise that fits for our LIFESTYLE. We will of course end up falling off the wagon, so to speak, and this time, rather than letting it become one more weapon in your obnoxious roomate’s (Arianna Huffington’s description of that nasty critical voice that lives in your head) arsenal, you will use it to look at your choice more carefully. How realistic is/was your plan? Do you need to be more flexible now in the face of your baby up all night and that you are totally sleep deprived? Or that in fact, your favorite food is a bran muffin when in fact you committed to a low carb lifestyle. Get real girl! Nothing you decide to do is going to last, if it doesn’t fit realistically in your life.

So, a few tips for realism:

1) If you want to lose the 10 lbs. you gained over this holiday season, (I have fully committed myself to overeating these holidays, and have repeatedly gone to bed stuffed and feeling sick to my stomach eating boxes of cookies, candy, licorice, my personal fav), then try to either go cold turkey on the sweets, if that works for you, or simply, ‘back off’ gently. Eat four cookies vs. eight. Do that with all foods. I call it ‘backing off’. I need a gentle term if I find that I need to eat less, otherwise my obnoxious roomate gets so rude, that I end up eating just to spite her because I am so rebellious.

2) Find a way to exercise where you are building in some resistance work 3 x a week. I know, I don’t shut up about this, but I promise you it is where it is at for burning calories long term and keeping weight off. Do those pushups 3 times a week or 4.

3) THINK REALISTICALLY ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, AND PLAN IT. GET CONCRETE. FIT IT INTO THE SLOTS OF YOUR DAY AND IF IT DOESN’T FIT, DONT’ THINK YOU WILL DO IT. GET REAL ABOUT HOW LONG IT TAKES TO DO SOMETHING, GET THERE, RETURN, ETC. DON’T LIVE IN A FANTASY WORLD ABOUT HOW IT WILL GET DONE. REALLY TRULY THINK IT THROUGH SO THAT YOU CAN REALLY AND TRULY COMMIT TO SOMETHING THAT IS AND I WILL REPEAT IT OVER AND OVER, DOABLE. DOABLE, DOABLE, DOABLE.

4) When you stop the doing, re-evaluate. Don’t go all unconscious, denial mode on me here. You don’t get to check out because you can’t say you failed. Your plan failed. Re-evaluate your plan and then do it. Keep modifying it until it fits and you can instill some consistency. I promise you that it is consistency that rules, that will build metabolism and keep you able to eat the things you love.

Now that is what I call a resolution! Happy New Year.

“No, You are not Burning the Calories You Think You are at the Gym”

says today’s article in the New York Times. I have been thinking this for the last 8 years, since I began weight training following the birth of my 3rd daughter and over time, dropped two sizes. (Of course this could also be because of the change in sizing that has been going on in the last 5 years ; okay, let me dream on!  ) People think I don’t eat, and those closest to me, know well that is not true.

But I have to say, that what they said in the Times today, is true. I see people time and again, sweating and working so hard at the cardio machines, particularly women, and their bodies don’t change.For us women, this much is true. Muscle mass counts. You want to raise your resting metabolic rate, even if you fear that your metabolism is that of a turtle. Women lose muscle mass, particularly in the upper bodies, during their twenties. This is why, when you hit 30, you often find that the same food doesn’t budge like it used to, or you barely eat and still gain weight. This is the key and it doesn’t have to change your life:

Throw in 1 – 2 sets of ten pushups a morning, evening, whatever way you can fit it into your schedule. Work up to 3 sets of ten in time. Do this 3 – 4 times a week and remain consistent. Spend any other time you do at the gym, if you do go to the gym, more on weight training, less on cardio. Walk, dance, skip around with your kids. Get your cardio in fun ways. Stick with it and see what happens; if nothing else, you will gain more metabolism; can’t hurt, right?

“Eat and Yes, Be Merry!”

So, if you couldn’t tell already by my writing, I believe in enjoying food.  I am a total foodie myself, and in fact, have a stash of candy and treats in my office drawer, just in case, I am ever hungry.  (It helps me, believe it or not, eat in a more rational way, as I know it is always there and I can have it whenever I want.  Then, if I am not hungry, or don’t feel like eating, I know it is there when I do want it.) 

I know this approach doesn’t work for everyone, but here come the holidays!I have been interviewed countless times during the holidays for radio segments as people freak out and worry about gaining weight in the face of umpteen cocktail parties and large meals. Here are a few tips:

1) Expect to gain some weight. Dont’ freak out, and go with it. That also doesn’t mean it won’t come off, if your usual habits shift back after these parties. Go with the fact that we all have roughly a 6-10 lb. fluctuation, you just might be on the high end of your swing and then it will swing back. Don’t get stuck in it because you freaked out that you gained weight so everything goes to H-ll.

2) Make sure you go to these parties having eaten some protein. It will help offset your grabbing everything in sight. You can skip a beat before grabbing something just because you don’t usually eat it. (I must recommend however, those cocktail franks with spicy mustard, yummmmm!)

3) Pile your plate with what you love, but keep checking in with yourself to make sure you are really enjoying what you are eating. Why bother if it doesn’t taste delicious?! Stay conscious. Stay connected to your body. Take breaks, so that the signal has registered that you might be done, or full. Promise yourself that you can always have more later, if you truly want it. (I mean it, it helps offset eating just for the sake of eating because you give yourself permission that moment.) Of course, eating past the point of fullness in my opinion, is part and parcel of the holidays, vacations, and celebratory times, so don’t sweat it. You can return to your usual habits of course.

4) I know everyone says to exercise the day you are going to eat alot, but if you can’t swing it, don’t sweat it. Do what you can. Don’t overthink it, or overworry. That can tend to backfire. If it works, great, if not, go with it. After all, this is a time to relax if you can, and above all, ENJOY!5) Suspend your usual rules of eating for the family if you are on holiday, and let yourself relax. I promise you, your kids won’t die of malnutrition. Follow your instincts, (your gut, ha!ha!) and trust yourself. Take what all the experts say and keep what works for you, and throw away the rest! Find what works. When all is said and done, you may not have gained as much as you thought you might, by relaxing and letting go. Use your own common sense. Happy eating!