weight loss

Nutrition Counseling is more than What We Eat.

health, nutrition, therapy, weight loss

 

When I reflect about ALL the ‘diets’ I have tried, followed, failed, and succeeded over the years, I realize they’re all the same.  I see how they have come and gone like fads. We hope this will ‘be the one’ to shed the pounds, and quick! They are a place to start, not a place to end.

Much has been made of the recently published results of the DIETFITS (Diet Intervention Examining the Factors Interacting with Treatment Success) study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28027950

Most of the headlines emphasized the fact that the two diets researched, low-fat and low-carb, ended up having the same results across almost all end points studied, from weight loss to lowering blood sugar and cholesterol.

What’s most interesting, however, is how these two diets are similar.

What DIETFITS revealed about weight loss

The study began with 609 relatively healthy overweight and obese people, and 481 completed the whole year. For the first month, everyone did what they usually did. Then, for the next eight weeks, the low-fat group reduced their total fat intake to 20 grams per day, and the low-carb group reduced their total carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day. These are incredibly restricted amounts, considering that there are 22 grams of carbs in my organic seedtastic whole grain bread I’m enjoying as I write this, and 20 grams of fat in half of the dark chocolate bar I enjoy (I eat one ½ inch by 1 inch square at a time).

That kind of dietary restriction is impossible to maintain over the long term and, as this study showed, unnecessary. Participants were instructed to slowly add back fats or carbs until they reached a level they felt could be maintained for life. In addition, both groups were instructed to

People were not asked to count calories at all. Over the course of a year, both groups attended 22 classes reinforcing these very sound principles — and all participants had access to health educators who guided them in behavioral modification strategies, such as emotional awareness, setting goals, developing self-efficacy (also known as willpower), and utilizing social support networks, all to avoid falling back into unhealthy eating patterns.

Participants in both groups also were encouraged to maintain current US government physical activity recommendations, which are “150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week.”

Get all that? Basically, the differences between groups were minimal. Both lost the same average amount of weight (12 pounds) over the course of a year. Genetic and physical makeups didn’t result in any differences either.

I love this study because it examined a realistic lifestyle change rather than just a fad diet. Both groups, after all, were labeled as healthy diets, and they were, because study investigators encouraged eating high-quality, nutritious whole foods, unlimited vegetables, and avoiding flours, sugars, bad fats, and processed foods. Everyone was encouraged to be physically active at a level most Americans are not. Also, this is a big one, everyone had access to basic behavioral counseling.

This study could have been called a study of sustainable healthy lifestyle change.

The best diet is the one we can maintain for life and is only one piece of a healthy lifestyle. People should aim to eat high-quality, nutritious whole foods, mostly plants (fruits and veggies), and avoid flours, sugars, trans fats, and processed foods (anything in a box). Everyone should try to be physically active, aiming for about two and a half hours of vigorous activity per week. For many people, a healthy lifestyle also means better stress management, and even therapy to address emotional issues that can lead to unhealthy eating patterns.

I don’t diet anymore.  I love food that fuels my body and mind. I have adjusted my habits and routines to manage meal planning, shopping, and cooking so eating doesn’t feel like a chore. Food is on the bottom of my daily priority list, having a healthy body and mind for as long as I can is at the top. Here’s how I do that:

  • I choose to live in harmony with others
  • I choose to stretch and challenge my mind.
  • I choose to be aware of and accept my true feelings.
  • I choose to live each day consistent with my morals and ideals.
  • I choose a work path that is consistent with my values, interests, and beliefs.

 

In addition to ongoing learning about the nutrition of food and the importance of exercise, the most important skill is mastering your mind.  A re-trained attitude is the only map that can get you out of “dietville” once and for all.

Why losing weight is so hard and gaining weight is so easy.

health, nutrition, self care, therapy, Uncategorized, weight, wellness

You just enjoyed the holidays and come to find out that you gained 5 pounds. In your disbelief, you quickly curse the Weight Gods for being so cruel. Sound familiar? This was me the last couple of months. A little cookie baking, eating the holiday yummies, packed it on quick. This inspired me to discuss the seemingly unbalanced equation of weight gain vs. weight loss, the facts that surround the issue and how losing the 5 pounds feels so much harder than gaining them:

FACT 1 – It is Simple Math: To maintain your ideal weight, you need to eat as many calories as you burn in one day. The balanced equation looks like this:

Calories Eaten = Basal Metabolic Rate + Physical Activity

If what you eat equals more than what your body uses, you will gain weight. In the situation of a holiday, it is likely that you eat more unhealthy food than normal and possibly get less exercise, resulting in an imbalanced equation, with a higher number of calories on the eaten side than on the burned side. That imbalance over the course of a few days can easily represent a few pounds.

FACT 2 – A Pound is a Pound is a Pound: One pound of body mass represents 3,500 calories. Regardless, if you are trying to lose a pound or gain a pound, the pound will always represent 3,500 calories. So, if you eat 3,500 calories more than your body requires, you will gain 1 pound. Similarly, if you eat 3,500 calories less than your body requires, you will lose 1 pound.

FACT 3 – Exercise is Weight Discriminating: Whether you are 120 pounds or 175 pounds, you will gain one pound from eating 3,500 calories more than you need. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold true for burning calories. How much you weigh actually dictates how many calories you burn per hour. The more you weigh, the more you burn, and as a result, the easier it is to lose the pound…sound crazy? It is true.

FACT 4 – Aging Contributes to Weight Gain: As if aging doesn’t contribute enough to unfavorable things, it also contributes to weight gain. As we get older, our metabolism slows down, requiring us to need less food and calories. If you don’t modify your caloric intake as you get older to reflect this change in metabolism, you will start to see weight gain.

The Bad News: Unfortunately, eating an extra couple of unhealthy snacks or drinking a few extra glasses of wine can happen in a blink of an eye. However, the time and energy required to burn off those calories takes a lot more effort. We have provided a chart on what 1,000 calories looks like on both sides in the chart below (remember, it is 3,500 calories that make up a pound).

The Good News: Whether it is rapid or slow weight gain that you have experienced, losing the extra weight can be tackled through two avenues (and should be): calorie reduction and exercise. Choosing to lose weight through both calorie reduction and exercise will accelerate the process. If for seven days you burn 200 extra calories through exercise and reduce your food intake by 300 calories each day, you will lose that extra pound. Further, it is a lot easier than trying to either reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 calories (which is physically impossible) or burning an extra 3,500 calories during exercise (which takes a ridiculous amount of time and energy).

What you Can Do: Assess whether your weight gain was a rapid gain due to atypical behavior (E.g., vacationing) or a longer-term gain. If it was a rapid gain, there is a good chance you will lose the weight by returning to your normal habits. You might have to be a little strict for a day or two, but you shouldn’t feel like a major overhaul is in order. If, however, you have gained the weight over a period of time, assess your habits and think about what has changed in your life. Have you stopped exercising? Have you let your eating habits go? Have you hit a milestone birthday? Once you can assess the reality of your situation, remember the equation: to maintain balance, burn the calories you eat.

 

ELM Mental Wellness Nutrition Counseling is in depth and lifelong. It begins with multiple assessments including family history of eating patterns and health risk, habits-routines-rituals, emotional connection with food. Changing our dietary patterns is grueling. I help clients with meal planning and shopping, self monitoring, goal setting, stimulus control, problem solving, cognitive restructuring, and relapse prevention to move toward a state of lifetime optimal health.

 

How I quit the donut, 24 years and counting.

health, nutrition, self care, sugar, Uncategorized, weight, weight loss, wellness

Consistently I am asked this question, so I decided to write about it.  24 years ago I recognized I ‘really’ liked donuts, and I could eat a lot of them.  When the morning arrived I stood in front of my closet trying to find something to wear to work, then realizing nothing fit anymore.  I called in sick to work because I felt and was sick.  After crying for a few minutes, it came over me like a storm.  This was it, this was my last straw moment, and today was the day to do something!  So I dried my tears, put on my big girl panties and sought help.

I had to realize that donuts were not my friend, they were not my therapist, and they certainly weren’t helping anything.  I began to dig deep, “what benefit am I receiving from this sugary delight?”  I began to journal about when and where I would eat donuts, along with my emotions.   I recognized boredom and stress were fuel to my donut fire. I stopped eating them immediately, because I was ready to.

The longer I did without them, the better I felt.  My motivation machine was ON and there was no turning it off now.  It was all about action.

Almost 20 years ago, two well-known alcoholism researchers, Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska, introduced a five-stage model of change to help professionals understand their clients with addiction problems and motivate them to change. Their model is based not on abstract theories but on their personal observations of how people went about modifying problem behaviors such as smoking, overeating and problem drinking.

The six stages of the model are:

  • precontemplation
  • contemplation
  • determination
  • action
  • maintenance
  • termination

Gold, M. (2016). Stages of Change. Psych Central

Understanding your readiness to change by being familiar with the six-stage model of change can help you choose treatments that are right for you.

Nothing succeeds like success. I implemented a good plan, I was beginning to see it work and experiencing it working over time, as well as making adjustments along the way. The many things that hiding in a donut may have taken from me began to be restored, along with hope and self-confidence and continued determination not to eat one.

Today I understand when we eat something loaded with sugar; your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice.  This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine.  An overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more.

So what’s the magic potion you ask?

This is my recipe:

  • My last straw moment prompted determination and plan preparation.
  • Commitment to change with appropriate skills.
  • Success reducing my sugar urge propelled continued achievement.
  • Continuing to educate myself and adjust plans to maintain long term sustained change, bye bye donut.

Here are some Tips:

  • Out of sight is usually not out of mind
  • Make lower calorie choices when possible
  • Our environment is toxic – unhealthy food is highly accessible
  • Don’t let yourself get too hungry
  • Try a cravings journal
  • Smart carbs to the rescue – whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables
  • Take care of yourself, in a non-food way

I have successfully managed my weight health and sugar craving for almost 25 years now.

As you travel the ELM path, I will join with you to explore your challenges and cravings.  We will discover your strengths for determination and preparation, as well as what might get in the way.  We will create an action plan with small, sustainable goals, and prepare for long term maintained change.

I look forward to hearing about your donut!

Be well!

Kelle Greeson, LPCC CWC

ELM Mental Wellness, owner