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WHAT ARE YOUR CHOICES

(September 20, 2007 

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If you watched the US version of The Biggest Loser this week, you saw that when one of the contestants was feeling like she couldn't complete the exercise she was doing... in a very poignant moment Jillian, her trainer, posed the question that gave her focus and strength to go on... 'What are your choices?'...

That's a good question to ask ourselves everytime we reach for the food that is going to catapult our caloric intake over our daily goals, when we sit in our chair debating whether to 'take it easy' or get up and do that exercise we said we were going to do, when we are halfway through a tough workout and feel tempted to cut it short and just go relax (after all we did *something* didn't we?)... WHAT ARE YOUR CHOICES?

One of my favorite quotes is 'What you are today is the result of decisions you made yesterday; what you will be tomorrow will be the result of decisions you make today.' It all comes down to choices. Choices we made in the past got us to the point we are now. Choices we make now will decide what we will be in the future.

Look ahead twelve months from now. Will you still be sitting here saying, 'I really want to lose weight, I really do.. I just can't seem to get motivated. I just can't seem to get up and exercise. I just can't seem to resist those high calorie foods.. I just can't......' Or will you have twelve months of weight loss, improving fitness and health, and be looking and feeling better, having more energy, and feeling really good about how far you've come in the past 12 months?

WHAT ARE YOUR CHOICES? You can either change your life.. or it will stay the same. But it is YOUR choice. Twelve months from now will you just be twelve months older? or will you be twelve months better? twelve months closer to your goals? twelve months healthier?

If you do the same things you've always done, you'll get the same results you've always gotten. If you don't change your habits and attitudes, you wont' change your body either. You can't get where you want to be by staying where you are. WHAT ARE YOUR CHOICES?

Write it down on the fabric of your heart, write it on a piece of paper and put it in your purse or billfold, put it on your refrigerator where you can't miss it... WHAT ARE MY CHOICES? Because it is YOUR choices that got you to where you are.. it will be YOUR choices that will change your life.

Dan

 

CONQUERING DISCOURAGEMENT

(September 26, 2007)

The real enemy we face in weight loss is not calories, it's not lack of exercise, it's not fat. The real enemy we face in the journey to weight loss and healthier living is... well, rather than me telling you, why don't you just look your enemy in the face. Take a peek in the mirror.

Yes, the real enemy, the only one who has the power to defeat us...is ourselves. We sabotage our own efforts, then berate ourselves for failing to achieve our goals, and finally just give up in frustration, discouraged that we can't seem to get past those roadblocks we set for ourselves.

In the process of trying to lose weight and get healthier, what kinds of things cause us to feel discouraged?

-Lack of weight loss. When the scales don't seem to be budging seemingly despite our best efforts..or the pounds are coming off much more slowly than we want, we begin to feel it's hopeless... At this rate, it's going to take FOREVER to lose the weight I need to lose! I can't eat like this rest of my life! Thoughts like that get embedded in our brains, and discouragement takes over...

-Seeming inability to stick to our 'diet'. When we find ourselves repeatedly 'cheating' on our diet, eating foods we shouldn't, eating more calories than we should, we begin to feel frustrated, thinking we're never going to get it right. Sometimes we do great for the longest time, the something happens and we overeat one meal.. and the next thing you know we've allowed ourselves to go 2 days, 3 days, a week overeating... and the thought crosses our minds.. 'I've already screwed this up so bad, I might as well just give up'...

-Stressful situations in our lives use up all our emotional resources, and we just feel we don't have the emotional energy to devote to 'dieting' and weight loss issues, so we turn to the place we have often turned to for comfort in stressful situations: food. That causes us to feel like failures, berate ourselves for our poor choices, makes us depressed, which causes us to want to do more of what??? Yes... eating... It becomes a vicious cycle...

There are other causes of discouragement too, but these probably get most of us at some time or another... for some, these may be happening right now.

So, what do you do? How can you conquer the discouragement which can so destroy your will to keep on with a healthy lifestyle?

1. Take an honest look at your expectations. Are they realistic? How long did it take you to get overweight? If it took you 5 years, is it realistic to expect to lose all that weight in 3 months? Probably not. Discouragement sets in when reality doesn't match our expectations, so first of all, we need to be sure we have realistic expectations. Given the amount of weight I have to lose, the amount of commitment to making it happen I'm willing to give (and be totally honest about that with yourself), what goals are realistic for me?

2. Keep in mind that living at a healthy weight and fitness level is not a short-term goal, but a life-time process. The reason 'dieting' doesn't work, is because 'dieting' involves changing how you eat for a short term to lose weight...so what happens when you change how you eat back to the way you ate before the 'diet'? You gain the weight back, of course! Choose a way of eating and exercise you can feel comfortable with for the rest of your life, because that's how long it needs to last. If you just absolutely can't live the rest of your life without a piece of chocolate cake, then don't take chocolate cake off your meal plans.. instead plan how you can include chocolate cake in your eating plan without sabotaging your eating. For the things I have on my 'have to have' list (like ice cream), I buy prepackaged items that have their calories pre-measured (so I don't go crazy with it), and just include that in my eating plan. If you approach your eating as a life-time plan, you will make decisions which will make it easier to stick to whatever plan you come up with, which willl reduce your discouragement!

3. Stay connected. The WORST thing you can do when you begin to feel discouraged is stay away from those people who are struggling along with you to stay on track. If you have a weight loss friend, or sympathetic friend.. or a SUPPORT GROUP (such as Black Team!), stay connected with them. Be honest with your support team; let them know you're struggling. Some may have a word of wisdom, encouragement, help.and can help you get through this tough time.

4. Stay on track. I heard this quote somewhere years ago: "To be a winner, you must first behave like a winner." The scale isn't moving? So? Are you eating fewer calories than your bodies requires for maintenance? Are you exercising at least on a semi-regular basis?' If you can answer those questions yes, then don't abandon your eating program just because you don't see immediate results. If you are doing the 'right' things, eventually you will get results. Weight loss is much like having a bank account: if you spend more than you deposit, your bank account will shrink. If you are spending more calories on a consistent basis on a daily basis than you're depositing(eating), you WILL lose weight. Just hang in there and don't give up, and you WILL see results.

5. Give yourself a break. Everybody flubs it up sometimes. If your best friend was trying to lose weight, and really screwed up, what would you say to him/her? Would you berate her for being such an idiot? Tell her she's a failure and might as well just give it up? Quit talking to her because she 'failed'? Or would you tell her it was ok.. just to put the past behind and move forward? Treat yourself with the same kind of care you would treat someone else in that situation. If you failed, then you may need a slap on the wrist, but you're not a bad person, and you haven't ruined your life... you just need to get a fresh new perspective, take a deep breath, realize you are human just like the rest of us, and move on.

6. Find something to laugh about. It's hard to be discouraged when you're laughing. I like to watch really stupid, goofy movies when I'm discouraged.. Yes the 'humor ' is pretty dumb, but it makes me laugh, and in the middle of the laughter I begin to find myself getting a new perspective, and I realize things aren't nearly as hopeless as they seem sometimes.

You really CAN conquer feelings of discouragement! Keep your goals in front of you and celebrate the victories, don't take the failures too seriously; stay connected with the community of people who are on the same path you're on, remember this is a life-time marathon not a short term sprint. Stay on track and you WILL see the results you want.
Positive warm thoughts,
Dan


 

JUMPSTARTING WEIGHT LOSS...

September 29, 2007


You'd think weight loss would be easy - cut down your food intake, increase your exercise, and the pounds just melt away.. right? Well, kinda, sorta, but not exactly.

A lot of factors impact our weight and how we lose weight. Yes, if you create a calorie deficit (burn more than you consume) you WILL lose weight, but there are many variables which can affect how your body deals with weight, and at what speed your weight comes off.

If you're on a plateau, can't seem to get the weight loss ball rolling the way you want, here are some ideas which may help jumpstart your weight loss:

1. PUT THE SALT SHAKER IN STORAGE.

Don't add salt to ANYTHING. If you eat canned vegetables, buy the NO SALT ADDED variety, or buy fresh or frozen and DON'T ADD SALT. If you drink diet soda, look at the Sodium content - if you only drink one or two a day, it may not be too bad, but if you're one of those people who has a soda in your hand all day long, trade it in for a REAL drink - water.

The average person has 1 to 5 lbs of excess water weight at any given time (and sometimes more) because of fluid retention, and the primary cause of fluid retention is the sodium levels in our bodies. Having extra fluid not only adds water weight, it can contribute to high blood pressure, which reduces the efficiency of your body's systems, including metabolism and fat-burning.

2. DRINK LOTS OF WATER.

Eight glasses a day is a MINIMUM. If you drink less than eight glasses a day, your body is suffering from dehydration, which raises your sodium levels, slows your metabolism, and causes additional water retention (and doesn't let your body get rid of all the toxins which are harmful to you). It's best to drink from eight to sixteen glasses a day to get the maximum benefit.

During the first few days of drinking more water than you're used to you'll be running to the bathroom more often. While this is annoying, there are some important things happening. Your body will be flushing out stored water it's been retaining to even out your sodium levels, and that it kept just in case water wasn't supplied to your body and it needed to go into survival mod.. This storage water is usually kept in your ankles, thighs, hips and sometimes your belly.

Eventually, this flushing will stop allowing you to drink your water without any having to go to the bathroom nearly as much. So drink up and use water as your secret weapon to fight back against fat.

3. COUNT EVERY CALORIE YOU EAT - BE HONEST!

Have you ever noticed that when you're measuring something you really like, that half cup measuring cup gets heaped up a lot higher than when it's something you DON'T like that much? Well, I have! First of all, DO use measuring cups, spoons, etc., because guessing is NOT good enough. After you've reached your target goal, and have gotten very experienced at measuring your foods, just a visual estimate may be good enough, but if you are trying to lose weight, don't GUESS at portions, MEASURE them! EVERY calorie counts, and that's especially true when you're trying to jumpstart your weight loss after being on a plateau.

If you haven't measured it, don't eat it. It's YOUR body, make sure you know everything that goes in it. Don't trust your memory either. Write down your portions as soon as possible after eating, because remembering every bite you put in your mouth at the end of the day can be very difficult and is usually inaccurate. Accurate record-keeping is very important to get yourself off of a plateau. How much we THINK we eat, as opposed to what we ACTUALLY eat are often just not the same. I didn't THINK I ate all that much during the years I was gaining weight, but when I started logging every bite I ate, I discovered WHY I had ballooned. To kick-start your body's weight loss, make sure you are recording every calorie you consume, every day. If you don't truly know how much you're eating, you'll never be able to make the changes you need to make to get yourself going.

4. JUST SAY NO TO FOODS FRIED IN FAT.

While you may find, later on, that you can include occasional fried foods in your diet and still maintain your target weight, when you are trying to lose weight, especially when you're plateaued, foods fried in fat are your ENEMY.

A roasted skinless chicken breast has approximately 142 calories and 3 grams of fat. A breaded and fried chicken breast with skin on, has about 364 calories and 19 grams of fat.

A large baked potato contains about 220 calories and .2 grams fat. That same potato turned into french fries contains 697 calories and 34 grams of fat.

Does frying the chicken breast or potato increase it's volume? No, it's still the same size, same amount of food, but it takes up much more of your daily calories. What that means is you get less volume of food, your hunger levels stay higher, and those 'empty' calories contribute nothing to your nutritional health. On the other hand, fat calories require very little processing for your body to convert those to body fat, whereas protein and carbs require much more processing and cause your metabolism to work harder to process them. Fat calories provide very little energy.. in short, fat calories really don't do much for your body.. except make you fat!

Yes, you need SOME fat in your diet, but you get plenty of that just as a natural part of foods - the excess fat from fried foods is detrimental to weight loss.

5. MOVE YOUR BODY!

Yes, you need to incorporate daily exercise into your life...and as you get more fit, you should increase the intensity of those workouts... but there's more to it than just your workout. Throughout the day, you have opportunity to move your body more, and the more you move your body, the more calories you burn. Cut out about half those inter-office emails, and replace them with getting up and walking to someone's office to give them the message.
Instead of asking your spouse or kids to bring something to you, get up and go get it. Make it a habit to get up and move during the commercials when you're watching tv - get up and walk in place, go start some laundry, take dishes out of the dishwasher, just MOVE! Go for a walk at lunchtime, even if it's just a 10 minute walk around the parking lot.

Find ways you can move your body more, and you will begin to feel your body getting used to being active. Most of us, when we get overweight especially, develop the habit of finding someplace to get comfortable, and then moving from that spot as little as possible. We have to change that mindset if we want to train our bodies to have a more active metabolism. MOVE it!

6. EAT BREAKFAST.

Absolutely do NOT skip breakfast...ever. Your metabolism really doesn't 'kick in' til you eat something, so eating something within the first hour or so of waking up is very important to turning your metabolism on and starting the fat-burning process. Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight. You don't have to eat cereal, or any traditional breakfast foods...if you like turkey burgers for breakfast, have those instead! Just get some good nutrition to start your day. In addition to all the traditionally touted health benefits, it will help your metabolism begin burning off the fat calories a lot sooner in your day.

7. DON'T SKIP THE SNACKS

Rather than eating 3 big meals, your metabolism will work more efficiently, and you'll stay less hungry, if you eat about 6 times or so a day...smaller 'mini meals' or snacks which you space out about every 2 to 3 hours. With the traditional three meals-a-day approach, you have energy spikes shortly after you eat, followed by drops in your energy levels and growing hunger. By eating smaller meals and having snacks in between, the energy levels become more stable though the day, and the hunger levels become less intense (so you're less likely to over indulge when you eat). Your metabolism also is kept burning at a more steady pace throughout the day, and you burn off fat more consistently.

In addition to the 'scheduled' snacks, I keep fresh vegetables (carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.) that I can snack on ANYTIME I feel hungry, whether it's time for a meal or snack or not. Eating more often than we're used to is actually GOOD for our weight loss, as long as the total calories for the day is kept within our limits.

8. CHANGE THINGS UP

Finally, remember that if something is not working for you, regardless of who told you to do it or where you read it, CHANGE it. Everyone's body is different. What works for one person may not work as well for another. The basic principles are the the same for everyone, but exactly how it's applied may vary from person to person, and YOU are the only one who can fine-tune your program to make it work for you. You may be eating too much, or too little, food for your body (yes, you CAN slow weight loss by eating too little food - your body begins to hold onto fat, thinking you're starving). While SP and other programs can give you the 'generic' figures of how many calories someone at your size *should* eat on a daily basis...with weight loss, one size does NOT fit all, and you have to be willing to experiment with the levels of exercise, amounts of food, etc. til you find the mix that works best for you.

If you are patient, willing to do what is necessary and don't believe everything the 'experts' say, you can find the path that will lead you off of that plateau into a more consistent weight loss program.

The MAIN thing to remember is - you only are defeated when you quit. Don't give up, keep 'tweaking' your program, and you WILL succeed in losing that weight you want to shed.

Dan