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Heavy Contenders Vie For First Place

(Excerpts from Diet Support Group #3; each group builds on information given in previous meetings - check my blog for past episodes starting with 6/10/2017 post))

Ah, summer...the Season of Inundation by Zonky, Zaggly, Lunatic Envisages (acronym: SIZZLE - for summer, get it?). What does this mean exactly? Well, bring on the skimpy clothes and the public goes into cram session for weight loss and the media complies by providing a slew of ridiculous information!

When focusing on the best way to lose weight, people often ask: "How much of weight loss is about diet and how much is about exercise?" I typically respond that more of your life is spent doing things other than exercise and we have to eat on a regular basis so it would seem logical that diet carries the greater percentage of importance. And unfortunately, we often use our workout as a reason to eat a bit more, leading to a cancellation of the caloric reduction the increased energy expenditure created. It is important to remember to reduce the daily caloric intake regardless of whether there was a visit to the gym. This is the best way to be certain that your caloric deficit will provide a direct route to weight loss. Knowing what your BMR is as well as your activity level will provide the approximate starting place from which to base your caloric reductions. Remember that following fad diets while also reducing caloric intake is usually the wrong approach - for long-term success - because your body will most likely be deprived of necessary nutrients (macros/micros). Instead, gradual changes to healthier food choices while staying within your calorie range will help create a sustainable dietary approach that over time won't even be viewed, or felt, as a weight-loss diet. The change to clean eating will ultimately provide you with better health while enjoying foods that do taste better than their over-processed counterparts. When it comes to weight loss, it's important to see the entire picture - not just the food portion. Focusing on food alone just increases the obsession over food: what one can't eat, how much one can eat, good carbs/bad carbs, and so on, with constant preoccupation over food. Having struggled with an eating disorder for most of my life and finally overcoming it, I get a lot of questions about how to eat right for weight loss. I understand this is what most would find a pertinent question. The truth is that my eating changed when I changed my focus away from losing weight. I became centered on getting healthy and by doing it with one small goal at a time. For me, that started with the statement "I will not by any more binge foods." This carried all the elements of effective goal-setting: 1. The goal was very clear. 2. I made it a priority. 3. I created consistency to my actions. I stopped going to stores where I'd buy binge food; I created alternative activity to replace bingeing (my blog was a huge part of the alternative activity!). 4. Surrounded myself with positive vibes (look up motivational/inspirational quotes and post them where you can see them). 5. I rewarded my accomplishments (started enjoying activities I had saved for the time when I would be in 'perfect' shape - like going to the beach). 6. Set the stage for long-term success by: Making the goal challenging but attainable, specific and with a time frame (I wanted to be done buying binge food at the end of one year) and always framed in a positive light. Because weight loss and dietary change - for life - is a complex and challenging process, developing a flexible thought process is crucial to success. It's not entirely a matter of 90% diet and 10% exercise, or whatever number you choose to go with, and even though diet does tend to be a bigger part of the equation, exercise is still a highly important factor. Just as a shift to clean eating will help one adopt better dietary habits, exercise will also help promote adherence to the dietary changes, as most regular exercisers state they are more in tune with healthier choices, like drinking enough water. Exercise has also been proven to reduce stress and improve sleep - 2 things that are closely related as not getting enough sleep can cause more stress, and stress levels can negatively affect the quality of sleep, creating a nasty vicious cycle. Stress and being tired are also common reasons given for bad eating behavior and while exercise most often will alleviate both of these issues, what goes on in your head in the form of self-talk is every bit as important as what you eat and your exercise routine. When you understand how all of these factors play a part in your life, that they are interrelated and don't exist independently of each other, you'll see how developing stress management techniques will also help in the achievement of your diet and exercise goals. Developing positive attitudes, relationships and support systems all help to reduce distress, whatever the cause, further enabling the effectiveness of exercise and dietary changes. When you connect that what goes into your mouth affects what is most important to you in life, you realize that good health and fitness will help you reach your most important goals in life. Understanding this means you're more likely to make better food choices. Your goals can positively influence your nutrition and exercise decisions. But, as is often the case in life, things are rarely a perfect trajectory towards accomplishment! How do you handle setbacks, especially when you feel extremely frustrated? I am a huge supporter of goal-setting and have done many posts on this (for more info: but here is a brief overview: 1) Become your own cheerleader and forgive yourself when necessary. 2) Remember why you started on this journey to health and fitness. Keep your goals and vision board visible – work on building an indomitable perseverance to overcome setbacks by reminding yourself why you started as well as why you are worth it. 3) What can you learn from setbacks (avoid calling them mistakes)? Write about it in your journal! 4) Ask for help and support from someone if you need it 5) Set a small goal, accomplish it as quickly as possible and physically check it as completed. These tips can be applied to ANY of your life goals. Remember - success is so much a matter of mindset. For instance, how much do you complain during the day? Did you know that developing an attitude of gratitude can be one of your most useful tools to accomplishment in all goals you set? Think about this and write down your interpretation of why this may be the case.

I do provide 'homework' for the group and writing about this last question was the assigned work. The previous week, making a healthy version of a recipe was the work and 3 versions showed up for this group: Home-made zero-calorie Ginger Ale (thank you Komala, delicious!), Quinoa Salad (thank you Sheila, fabulous!), White Bean Blondies (my recipe, and can be found here: and of course, it's important to thank the samplers: Pat and Luke! We finished group with a good Q & A session and one that I should have taped. Lots of heavy questions with good debate, part of the reason I encourage you to come to meetings as this is the stuff that those who are struggling really need help with. But - you can always CONTACT me or leave comments below!

Progress video taken 7/09/2017 - 63 days till competition!

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