More People Ditching their Diets in 2013

NBC news reported today that more women than ever are ditching their diets, the number of women dieting is lower than it has been in 30 years. Instead women are opting for self- acceptance.

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This is excellent for those who yo-yo diet, which is very detrimental to ones health, but the importance of healthy eating and exercise should not be over looked. I believe that everyone should accept themselves for who they are and not compare themself to others. But I also believe that everyone should strive to be the best that they can be. This means striving for a healthier and fitter you, in a sensible way. The NBC video can be viewed by clicking here

 

It is really encouraging to see people moving away from the trend of starting a diet in January only to be tired of the diet by March.  Diets have a terribly low success rate in the long run, which is why it is always better to make healthy life style changes rather than going on a fad diet.

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It has been proven that people feel deprived when they are on a diet which is what causes you to over eat or binge. Also if you do not make life style changes, you may lose weight whilst you are on the diet but then once you stop you are likely to gain all of the weight back and maybe even more.

It is fine to think of January as a new beginning because it is, it is the start of a new year and you should leave the old behind and press forward into the new.  You should also start the year as you mean to go on, prioritize making healthy food choices and getting more exercise. During the cold months it is a perfect time exercise at home, using exercise DVDs if you do not have any and do not want to spend on them there are many other options. Running up and down the stairs in your home is a great workout for the legs and glutes.

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If you do not have stairs, numerous websites have exercise that you can do at home; Fitwatch.comm and LaurensFitness.com are both good examples of this and also have some demonstrations of the exercises.

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Going to the gym is also an option but it can be expensive and time consuming. It is best to fit in whatever works best for your schedule. The most important thing is that you remain active an eat healthily. Incorporate as much fresh produce in your diet as you can. If you find that your fresh produce goes off before you have a chance to eat it, buy frozen, it is cheaper and lasts longer. And do not forget to keep your water glass topped up.

National Chocolate Week October 2012

Today marks the start of National Chocolate week, it runs from 8th- 14th October, and with the weather looking so dreary and cold there is no better reason to give yourself a small treat.  I am a firm believer in enjoying everything within reason and keeping your portion sizes under control.

A website has been set up in aid of Chocolate Week and they have some great fun and exciting ideas of how you can use chocolate in different ways. Some of their recipes include Mexican chilli chocolate cake and trios of chocolate dips.  Check it out and have some fun baking with the family, or for yourself for the week.

Why We Overeat

I was doing some research into why we overeat and also why dinner plate sizes have grown by up to 4 inches when there is a reported obesity epidemic taking place. I came across the article below which I found interesting and thought I would share it with you.

Once you have read this article you may find it useful to revisit my blog post on Portion Control and Serving Sizes where I challenged myself to eating from a 9 inch plate for the week, as suggested in this article.

As I explained last week, one of the main arguments for a low-carb diet is that reducing carbohydrates theoretically reduces your appetite. You’re not as hungry and therefore you eat less and you lose weight. But that assumes that we only eat when we’re hungry and that we stop when we’re full.

Most Eating Is Not About Hunger

In fact, there’s a growing body of evidence showing that that environmental cues may have a much bigger impact on how much we eat than physiological hunger—factors such as how much food is on the table or in the package, how much the people around us are eating, and even how big our plates are have a huge effect on how much we eat.

Does the Size of Your Dinner Plate Matter?

For example, researchers have observed that the average size of a dinner plate in the 1950s was 9 inches across. By the 80’s it had grown to 11 inches and today the average dinner plate is a whopping 13 inches.  The increase in obesity rates parallels the increase in dinner plate size almost exactly. Coincidence? Some people don’t think so.

A popular new diet book, called The 9-Inch Diet, by Alex Bogusky, starts by having you replace your over-sized dinner plate with 9-inch plates. Bogusky claimed that shaving three inches off his dinner plate helped him whittle three inches off of his waist.

We Eat With Our Eyes, Not Our Stomachs

So, can weight loss really be as simple as that? No rigid eating plans? No forbidden foods or special recipes? Well, environmental cues are extremely powerful. That old joke about someone’s eyes being bigger than their stomachs turns out to be truer than you might have thought.

A now-famous experiment involving trick soup bowls proved that your stomach doesn’t tell you when you’re full; your eyes do. Researcher Brian Wansink describes the soup bowl experiment in his book Mindless Eating. The subjects were asked to eat a bowl of soup and then to rate how full they felt. But some of the bowls were secretly refilled from the bottom as diners ate the soup The people with the bottomless soup bowl ate 73% more soup but rated their level of satisfaction exactly the same as the others—after all, they’d only had a single bowl of soup!

We Decide How Much to Eat Based on Visual Cues

It seems that we decide how much to eat based not on how hungry we are or how filling the food is, but according to visual cues, which can be misleading.

Another experiment by Wansink’s group shows that you’ll eat more from a large container, even if you don’t like the food! They replaced the popcorn at a movie theater with stale, 2-week old popcorn.  People complained about how terrible the popcorn was. Nonetheless, people who were given a large bucket ate about 35% more popcorn than those who were given a smaller container. Apparently, the only ones who can be trusted to eat according to their actual physical appetites are babies and small children. Research by Barbara Rolls suggests that three-year-olds are not influenced by serving size; they eat according to their appetite. By the time they are five, however, they’ll eat more if they are served more.

You Can Overeat Without Being Overweight

Just because you’re not overweight doesn’t mean you’re not over-eating.

If supersized portions seduce you into over-eating unhealthy foods, you may cut back on more nutritious foods to compensate. You may be maintaining your weight, but at the expense of good nutrition.

So, this week, I’d like to experiment with the behavioral side of your diet. Unlike the metabolic diet concepts we discussed last week, which focused almost entirely on which foods you can eat, we’re going to focus instead on changing the environmental cues and behavioral patterns that lead to over-eating.

How to Trick Yourself Into Eating Less

So this week, you can eat whatever you like (as long as you promise to eat your vegetables, of course). Plus, I want you to follow the following rules.

  1. Use smaller dishes: Use smaller plates, bowls, and glasses. If your dinner plates are bigger than 9 inches across, use the sandwich plates instead.

  2. Don’t use serving bowls: No serving bowls or containers on the table.  Put your food on the plate and then go to a separate area to eat it.  If you are still hungry when your plate is empty, wait at least 15 minutes before serving yourself seconds.

  3. Prepare only what you need: When cooking, try to prepare only as much as is needed. Overcooking leads to overeating. That doesn’t mean you can’t cook enough for two meals. But when you’re done cooking, package up the second meal and put it away before serving yourself from the remainder.

  4. Don’t eat while distracted: Do nothing else while eating. Being distracted by television, the computer, or reading material can lead you to eat far more than you otherwise would. If you’re watching a movie or surfing the web and you decide to have a snack, pause the movie or shut down the computer until you’re done eating.

  5. Hide tempting food: Keep tempting but unhealthy foods out of sight.  When we see food we like, it actually makes us feel hungry.  The obvious corollary to this is to keep healthy foods readily available. In other words, line all the vegetables up at the front of the fridge. Bury the fudge in the back of the drawer.  And remember: chewing gum can help you avoid snacking.

Obviously, these rules all by themselves don’t ensure a balanced diet. But right now, we’re just experimenting with the environmental aspects of hunger and eating.

It might be best to minimize your time in restaurants this week, just for the sake of the experiment. You have very little control over portion sizes and other environmental cues in restaurants. At the very least, I suggest you avoid buffets, all-you-can-eat anything, and any restaurants that describe menu items with words like “jumbo” or “belly-buster.”

Questions to Ask Yourself

During your experiment with these behavioral strategies, here are some things to ask yourself:

  1. Do you feel more or less hungry than you usually do?

  2. Do you find yourself eating more or less at meals?

  3. Do you find yourself eating more or less often?

  4. Do you find it difficult or inconvenient to stick to the rules?

  5. Do you notice any differences in your energy levels or mood?

  6. Could you imagine continuing the experiment for more than a week?

  7. How would you rate the overall quality and balance of your diet? Better or worse than usual?

Late Night Snacking Temptations!

So, once you give birth to your bundle of joy, a few months pass and you develop a routine, and hopefully regain your figure, no one really discusses the fact that it can be quite difficult to maintain it. Unlike before when you would maybe have dinner at 7 or 8pm, go to bed at 10 or 11pm and then sleep until the morning.  You are now up during the night, quite a few hours after having dinner, and you can become quite peckish.

It is important to opt for the right kind of food if you really want a snack.  It is more than likely that you have had a sufficient amount of food throughout the day so whatever you have now is actually in excess.  Leftover dinner, ice cream, cakes and biscuits are all popular choices but they are certainly not good for you.

Opt for a hot drink and a banana, or a cold drink and a fat free yoghurt.  Just something to take the edge off if you actually feel that you have to eat but not something that contains too many calories.  Opting for this type of snack will really help you not to gain weight. Also its quick, easy and practical.

It may not seem like the most exciting option, but you have to remember that you would not usually be awake during the night.  Your waistline will thank you for making a sensible choice, and your babies night waking phase will soon pass.

Aside

I always find that September is a good month to review what I have been eating and see what changes can be made.  I think that everyone relaxes somewhat over the summer as there are so many social functions, BBQ’s, family picnics, and just so many other reasons to over indulge.

As the cold months are just around the corner, it is a great time to get back in the swing of eating lots of fresh produce, clearing out any junk food that may have made its way into your cupboards, and concentrate on clean eating before the run up to Christmas. Yes Christmas, which believe it or not is only 17 weeks away.

Healthy eating does not have to mean boring either.  As soon as healthy eating is mentioned most people think of only being able to have salads and vegetables.  Instead opt for more fun, quick and easy options such as homemade burgers, wraps stuffed with grilled chicken and salad, different fish dishes, the list is endless.  Even pizza which is often a family favourite, can be made healthy by making your own and adding a variety of vegetables and cutting back on the cheese.

Have a look online to gain some inspiration, the BBC Good Food website has some great recipes along with the time that it will take you to prepare them.  The thought of being in the kitchen for hours trying to prepare something healthy can be very off putting, most of the meals on this website are ready in under 30 minutes.

Social drinking is something else that we do more of over the summer months. Whether we are meeting up with friends after work, cracking open a bottle to enjoy in the garden, or at a social function it is very easy to drink more and forget about how calorific alcohol can be.

If this describes what you have been doing then it may be a good time to decide that you will only drink once a week, and even then, limit yourself to one or two.

Make September, October, and November months where you will try new recipes, think about what you eat and be more active. As the evenings get shorter and it becomes colder it is easy to eat stodgy foods and rush straight home. Make the effort to wrap up and take walks, go to the gym, or do some indoor exercise with dvd’s or Wii computer.

Always remember the 80/20 rule: it is what you do 80% of the time that makes the most difference.  If you eat healthily 80% of the time, the 20% when you relax and have things that you fancy will have little effect.  It is impractical to think that you will eat healthily every day and never allow yourself treats.  Having a cheat day, within reason, has enabled many people to lose weight and keep it off successfully.

I’m Finally Back- Pregnancy, Labour, and Beyond

Before the birth of my beautiful son I would never have believed just how much of the day newborns take up! I imagined that I would be able to blog by the time that he was 2 weeks old but then reality hit! My son is 9 weeks old now and I am really enjoying my new role as Mum and I am glad that I now have enough of a routine to begin reintroducing the things that I enjoy into my life.

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I have always been curious about pregnancy, labour, the period after having the baby, and whether or not its possible to regain your figure. I am happy that I now have first hand experience and that it is positive also.  Below is a picture of me at 9 months pregnant.

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My labour was 29 hours, which would have brought me to tears if anyone had told me that it would be that long, but once you are in the middle of it you cannot say I don’t want to do this any more! I used deep breathing for pain management for the first 25 hours and then I opted for gas and air for the last 4 hours.  After 25 hours I was also 5cm dilated which meant that I could get into the birthing pool.

Having a water birth was a great experience and it is what I hoped to have from the day that I found out I was pregnant. There are many factors which can prevent you from having a water birth, some of which include being over weight, having high blood pressure, a history of complicated births, high temperature, or if the baby shows signs of being distressed.  I was aware of the things that could stop me from having the birth that I wanted but I just chose to focus on the positive.

I continued to exercise in the gym until 2 weeks before my sons due date.  I did Yoga and Pilates I also used the exercise bike, cross trainer and lifted light weights.  Once I stopped going to the gym at 38 weeks, I continued to go for long walks at least 3 times per week up until the day that I went in to labour, my son came 3 days after his due date.

As I was so active throughout my pregnancy and ate healthily, I was very surprised when I got on the scales, when my son was 2 weeks old, to find that I was still 2 stones over my pre pregnancy weight. I decided that I would only weigh myself once per month and by the time my son was 7 weeks I was only 9lbs above my pre pregnancy weight without the gym. 7 weeks post partum I returned to the gym 2 days per week and this is a routine that I hope to continue for a while.  As I only go twice per week I have to ensure that each workout counts.  I do cardio and weights each time, I vary the cardio between my own work out or attending a spinning class. I do not concerned about being 9lbs above my usual weight as I know that it will come off in time with exercise and my usual eating patterns.  I am still breast feeding which means that my body will naturally maintain some additional fat stores. I read an excellent article on breast feeding written by Anne Smith who is a Lactation ConsultantIt is said that the average woman “will carry around about 3 extra pounds of breast tissue while she’s lactating”.

I have often heard that between 300- 500 calories are burned each day with breastfeeding and that it is natures way of getting women back to their usual weight.  However in reality many of the women that I have spoken to have not found it helpful. My opinion is that breast feeding does burn calories and speed up weight loss but you still have to eat healthily.  You cannot over eat or take the unhealthy option because you are breast feeding.  The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. By eating healthily and getting some form of exercise no less than 3 days per week the weight will begin to come off.

Video

Kony 2012

Joseph Kony, the guerilla group leader, has been at large killing the innocent children of Uganda for too long.  He needs to be arrested and brought to justice. Please take a few minutes out of your day to watch this short video and I guarantee that you will want to support the Kony2012 Campaign and do what you can to make a difference.

Alternatively you can look at the Kony2012 website http://www.kony2012.com.