Loading...
Dec 13

Hesitantly, I lifted one foot and then the other onto the scale. It was the first time in months I had mustered enough courage to do this. I had a feeling the news wasn’t going to be good.

340 pounds. My moment of truth was revealed between my pudgy legs. I just stared at the number in horror.

How did I get to THAT number? How did I let my problem with food get so out of control? How was I going to bring that number down? How was I going to fix me?

It was time to stop blaming my gene pool for my problem with overeating and start putting a plan into action that would turn my life around.

I was 45 years-ld and the excess weight I was carrying around was starting to slow me down faster than I wanted to admit. I had to do something. And fast.

But what? Where should I start?


I knew what hadn’t helped me in the past. The cabbage soup diet, low carb diet, grapefruit diet, Slim Fast and so many other things didn’t work for me. I am not one to join a group or work out my problems on a doctor’s couch. My gal pals are my harshest critics and most treasured confidants but I didn’t even tell them that I was embarking on a life-changing mission to lose at least 180 pounds. I had failed too many times before to overcome my obesity. So I quietly started to do my own research and didn’t tell anyone that I wanted to lose weight. A lot of weight.


This time was different. I was determined. I made the commitment and started to push my oversized butt up the proverbial hill. The harder I worked the lighter the load became.

Several months into the reduced-calorie-and-increased-exercise journey, I began to keep a journal. Paper and pen became my friend, my therapist and on some days, my worst critic. My mistakes, my humor, my reality were scrawled in blue pen as I embarked on a mission to lose the equivalent of another person. I was so tired of my overweight existence.


People ask me all the time how I lost the weight. Everyone wants the quick fix, the golden answer, a secret formula. But there isn’t one, except this: Start eating less and exercising.

My amazing transformation included a healthy dose of self-assessment and self-discipline and a healthy outlook on my relationship with food. It can’t be escaped or used as an escape from whatever is bothering you. Like many Americans I had let food overtake my body and it was starting to kill me.


I want to help you stop letting food overtake yours.

Tip 1: Face your fears and step on the scale. Every journey has a starting point.

Tip 2: Go to the bookstore and find a weight loss plan you think fits your lifestyle and tastes.

Tip 3: Make a commitment to take the time to do what it will take to change your life.

Tip 4: Make a commitment to no longer let food have power or sway over you.

Tip 5: Stay focused on your goal.


 Lisa Griffis has lost over 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  She is a member of the TODAY’s show “Joy Fit Club” and a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. Visit her website at lisagriffis.com.


More content on Weight Loss


© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009


Dec 27
George Carlin was never bleeped for using the four-letter word, “diet," but maybe everyone else who uses it on TV should be--like television networks and magazines. They seem to love the word because they know it will grab the attention of people looking for a quick fix. They sure grabbed me for years.
 
I wish there was a quick fix for weight loss. Lord knows! I wasted a ton of money and time on products and plans that claimed they were the answer to my weight problem.
 
All that excess weight didn’t jump onto my body. It took time for all those extra calories to amass themselves into 340 pounds. The pounds didn’t go on overnight. And deep down, I knew they weren’t coming off overnight, either.
 
Damn them.
 
Webster’s Dictionary defines dieting as “a means to eat or cause to eat or drink less or according to a prescribed rule.” Whose rule? And why do so many think they have the answer to a problem so many are trying to solve?
 
I didn’t want one of those plans that delivered food to my door. I knew I needed to teach myself how to make good choices at the grocery store, bring it home and then learn how to prepare it in a healthy way. I needed to teach myself how to consume correct proportions and then how to work-off the calories I had just eaten.
 
I knew what needed to be done and knew I probably needed some advice to come up with a game plan. So, I read many books and found a lot of good ideas. I would follow one diet plan until I reached a plateau and then I’d go in search of another diet guru and then add their sage advice on top of the advice I had already put into practice.
 
Bit-by-bit I began to formulate a new way of approaching food and learning how to peacefully coexist with my former demons. My bookshelves are filled with dozens of different points of view, all of which helped me reach my goal weight.
 
Here are a few books you might want to check out to get started:
 
Joy Bauer – Joy’s LIFE Diet: Four Steps to Thin Forever – It is filled with wonderful recipes. Her approach to eating healthy really paid off for me by teaching me the right portions and sensible foods I should be eating. This book offers great fitness and exercise regimens to go along with a new attitude toward food.
 
Suzanne Somers — Eat, Cheat, and Melt the Fat Away — I lost my first 100 pounds using her plan as a guide to eating and exercising when I was trying to get a handle of what I needed to do to create a brand new lifestyle. Somers also focuses on achieving hormonal balance while trying to eat healthier.
 
Bob Greene — Bob Greene’s Total Body Makeover — He clearly specifies how losing weight has just as much to do with your mind as it does with your body. Greene’s 12-week plan includes exercising and eating habits that can become a lifestyle, not just a short-lived diet.
 
Jorge Cruise — The 3-Hour Diet — This plan made me realize food is fuel for your body and that you need to fashion your eating plan so that your body runs efficiently. Cruise emphasizes that your body should be fed in three-hour intervals throughout the day to control your blood sugar and therefore, your appetite.
 
Lisa Griffis is a regular columnist for ShareWiK.com. Visit her web site at lisagriffis.com

Jan 03

Like millions of other women, this is the time of year I look back over the past 12 months and begin to list my expectations for the New Year. First on my list:  I need to take better care of myself. 

Last year, I gained 30 pounds and now, I can barely zip up my fat pants (you know the ones you keep, just in case). Yes, that’s a lot of weight to gain in one year. But what makes it even more disheartening is that I know better.  Since 2005, I’ve lost almost 200 pounds and promised myself I’d never put it back on.  

I am mad at myself. I thought I had beaten my weight problem. I thought I had taken control over my food-addiction.

I used to be that woman that people on airplanes prayed they wouldn’t sit next to.  I was the woman about whom people would not-so-quietly-whisper, “That woman has a pretty face but her backside is the size of a cow.” 

I couldn’t argue with them.  I weighed 340 pounds. There was no denying my food addiction.  It was there for the world to see.

There was no magic pill.  Over the course of four years, I lost half of my former self by teaching myself how to eat healthy and work out. 

My salvation?  The old adage, “Calories in and calories out.”  But, along with everything else I learned about a healthy lifestyle, one fact kept haunting me:  Ninety-five percent of the people that lose weight gain it back; of the 5% that succeed, the failure rate over five years is high.  

That statistic often kept me awake at night because deep down I knew the numbers weren’t in my favor.   

Juggling school (I am pursuing certificates to become a wellness coach and personal trainer), a new boyfriend and working ever-changing shifts at work (I am a designer for a newspaper) consumed my time and I forgot to take time for myself. 

I NEED to get back on the diet bandwagon. I need to start making time for myself to exercise.  This time I am going about it as if this is the rest of my life.  There is no thinking, “When I lose x-amount of weight, I can eat…” 

This time I have to deal with the stress that makes me reach for food more than anything else.  This time I am going to manage it instead of letting it overtake my life.

 

6 Tips to Get Back on The Diet Bandwagon and Keep My Weight off:

 

(1)  More sleep.

At least 7 hours a night. More if I can, but at least that.

 

(2)  Portion control my food and keep a food journal for the first two weeks.

I have to catch my mindless eating and get back to proper portions. Portion distortion led to my own distortion before I lost 200 pounds.  It is part of my problem now.

 

(3)  Calories in and calories out.

Simple but yet effective.

 

(4)  Working out.

I used to love it but when you get out of the habit, it’s hard to get back into it. So I will begin with just one hour a day; more on weekends. Strength training, Pilates, cardio.  Just do it, Lisa. Set the alarm clock early and go to bed early.

 

(5)  Posting a picture of the old me on my refrigerator and at my desk at work.

I can’t forget what I went through to lose 185 pounds.  I don’t want to have to start over and I do NOT want to return to my old ways.

 

(6)  Pitch my fat pants when I get out of them.

Maybe I’ll burn them. No, wait.  They’re made of polyester and the fumes are toxic.

 

I would love some company as I make my way back to the “New Me” in the New Year.  Send me your list of tips, add to my list.  I would love more suggestions. 

It’s much more fun to do this with girlfriends.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

 

Lisa Griffis has lost over 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  She is a member of the TODAY’s show “Joy Fit Club” and a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. Visit her website at lisagriffis.com.

 

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.


More content on Weight Loss


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Hear Lisa's first hand account of what inspired her to lose 185 lbs:


Jan 17

Exercise is a very important ingredient in any successful weight loss program. If I didn’t know this before I changed my lifestyle, I sure know it now.
 
Every morning, I go for a long walk along the lake in Cleveland. Rain or shine. My dog, Jerry, a 7-year-old Golden Retriever, knows the routine so well that while I’m pulling on my work-out clothes, he heads downstairs and waits for me by the door.
 
Let’s set the record straight. I don’t run. Never have, and I really don’t care to in the future. My arthritis is too bad, and because I didn’t start my active lifestyle until I was in my mid 40’s, I have learned to listen to my body, which is happier with a long, brisk walk than with a run.
 
 
To walk regularly, you need good walking shoes. Every spring, I head to my neighborhood running store and treat myself to a new pair of shoes. Since there are so many choices, and it’s always hard to pick just one, I set up a wish list: fit my foot, stay in budget and hope it’s a shoe that isn’t too ugly.
 
I’ve made plenty of mistakes. As hard as it is to admit, I am drawn to brightly colored shoes. After I suffered through blisters, I learned color is the last thing I should be concerned with. I also learned you don’t need to spend a fortune to buy a high-quality, good-performing shoe. A great shoe can be had for around $100.
 
For the first couple of years, a pair of Asics fit my criteria each time. But this spring, I left with a pair of Reeboks. The best fit outweighed brand loyalty.
 
In the first few months, I added a pedometer to keep track of my steps and an iPod filled with my favorite tunes to make my walks more enjoyable. I often tell people I have literally walked my butt off in my lakeside community. I even keep a pair of walking shoes in my desk at work so I can get active on my lunch hour.
 
I cherish my walking time. Not only do I get fresh air, but I also use the time to think through problems and plan my day. “Time for me,” is the way I look at it. I am not setting any speed records, but I do try to keep a good, consistent pace – stopping only to be a good neighbor or to pickup after Jerry, my four-legged walking companion.
 
Cross training is also included in my daily routine. I have incorporated biking, swimming, weight training and Pilates into my new life. I’m not sure what I can bench press, but my clothes look good on me, and that is what counts to this middle-aged chick.
 
I even turned the empty space in my basement into a home gym. It isn't anything fancy, but it's worked for me.
 
Here are few of the readily available tools I have found useful:
 
• ACCUSPLIT AE170 Pedometer with Steps, Distance, and Calories Burned. My dad gave me my first pedometer. I have used this brand for over five years, and I just love it. Every journey starts with a single step, and this product has helped me keep track of my progress.
 
• The Biggest Loser Workout, Volume One— Great workout that will tone and shape. Good place to start.
 
•The Biggest Loser Workout: Power Sculpt and Cardio Max — This two-DVD series is a wonderful second step in getting fit.
 
• Gaiam Pilates taught by Ana Caban — Pilates is much easier to learn from a DVD than yoga. Half the time while learning yoga you are bent like a pretzel making it hard to see the TV. Plus, Ana is great instructor. In order to fully utilize the video, make sure to grab a Covered Resistance Cord Kit at the same time as the DVD.
 
• Core Secrets by Gunnar Peterson — Good whole-body workouts. Focuses on building a strong core and overall flexibility.
 
• Bring your bike inside and put it on a stationary rack
 
• Hand weights and toning bands
 

 


Lisa Griffis has lost over 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  She is a member of the TODAY’s show “Joy Fit Club” and a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. Visit her website at lisagriffis.com.


More articles by Lisa Griffis

More content on Weight Loss

© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009 

Feb 14

Just in time for official start to “Diet Season,” NBC launched its ninth season of the “Biggest Loser” by bringing in a contestant that weighted 526 pounds--its heaviest contestant to date.  

 

I confess the show is an inspiration to me.  I regularly follow the contestants, wishing I could spend three months on a ranch with all the tools that are made available to the show’s contestants: Great trainers and endless time to spend in a well-equipped gym that doesn’t resemble rush hour for jocks.  Wow, that would be a real joy!  Just once, I would love to see a double-digit weight loss in my own life after an intense week of working out.  But in the real world that doesn’t happen. 

 

What the program does show us is that season after season, the age-old theory of calories in and calories out works. 

 

Which is why I was disappointed to learn Jillian Michael, the relentless trainer on the show, has joined the diet pill pushers with a new line of her own. I thought she was one of the good guys who believed that hard work and calorie counting was the way to lose weight.  But I guess just espousing that ideology wasn’t making her enough money. 

 

Along with all the newest gadgets and plans that surface are the reports touting the latest findings on this or that. 

 

Here are two that caught my eye: 

 

   A published study in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association revealed that food at popular chain restaurants and in the frozen food aisles have as much as 20% more calories than advertised. The report was featured in a “Today Show” segment and their experts revealed this skewed calorie count could lead to a 30 to 40 pound weight gain.    

 

   At the University of Southern California lab, scientists are developing wearable wireless sensors to monitor the workouts and eating habits of overweight people.  The Associated Press reported the experimental devices are designed to keep track of how many minutes they worked out and how much food they consumed.  It even sensed if they were eating at a fast-food joint.  The goal, according to the scientists, is to cut down on self-reported answers that often cover up or lie about what's really happening. 

 

I know I should tune out the hip but the truth is, knowledge is power. The fact that diet meals aren’t really diet meals is a good thing to know. The knowledge that they are developing a GPS tracking system for fat people is interesting, though also a bit disconcerting. 

 

It’s so hard to separate fact from fiction about what to do to lose weight.  We all want to believe it’s as easy as the popping the newest diet pill.  Deep down we know—or we should know—it’s all a matter of math: calories in and calories out.  I just wish researchers and trained professionals would put the time and energy into more sensible ways of teaching people that you are what you eat and getting regular exercise is the way to a longer and healthier life.

 

But I guess that’s too simple of a concept, I suppose, to put into a headline during diet season and not a good enough moneymaker. 

 

Lisa Griffis lost a 185 pounds through diet and exercise and is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  To find out more about Lisa, visit www.lisagriffis.com. 

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 

Feb 28

Dear Mr. Postman,

 

I would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t bring any more larger-sized women’s clothing catalogs to my house. I have called the companies and asked them not to send them any longer. It took 15 calls to Lane Bryant for them to finally stop sending them to me. I must admit it was the only way I could buy clothes for decades.  All of these catalogues represent fine companies but I don’t need their garments any longer and I don’t want their catalogs delivered to my house any longer.

 

The reality is that I haven’t bought anything from a plus-sized catalog for over 4 years so I am surprised they waste their money sending them to me. I told a friend about this last week and she asked me why I was so bothered by the junk mail that came my way.

 

It made me stop and think, and I told her I didn’t want to know those types of catalogues still existed. I am no longer the same person that used to order from those catalogues.  Not only has my weight changed but so has my attitude, outlook on life and philosophy.  I wanted these companies to recognize the change in me--how hard I worked to lose the weight and change.  Every time a new catalogue arrived, I felt they were taunting me.  


Long ago, I donated all my old clothes so I didn’t have an escape hatch for my diet. I know you can still buy larger clothes but I have put that idea out of my head. I haven’t kept any garment that is more than a two sizes too big—and those I kept just to wear to workout in. 

 

Ninety-five percent of all diets fail and I don’t want to be a casualty. If I can’t fit into my skinnier clothes, that is my sign to cut out the sweets and hit the gym. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

 

Thank you Mr. Postman for not delivering any more catalogs.

 

Sincerely,  

Lisa

 



Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

For More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

A daunting question given that 10% of U.S. healthcare costs are related to obesity, one third of us are obese, and another one third of us are overweight.  At least half of Americans have one chronic disease.  And our generation has not learned how to cook, either at school (Remember taking a home ec. class?  Well I don't either) or at home (How many of your mom's recipes do you cook on a regular basis?  No, really.)  Oh, and did I mention that many schools have cut funding for physical education?  

We are going to fight childhood obesity.  One pound at a time.  And we're going to win.  We are going to do this by remembering that our mothers were right. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  You need to break the fast, literally. You need to rev the engine if you want it to work for you.  And, by the way, you need to put the right fuel in your engine.  

What does that literally mean?  It means limiting your saturated fats (the fat from four-legged animals).  Ok, I'm all for a little half-n-half in my morning coffee.  It means no trans fat.  Really, none.  No tropical oils.  It means no added syrups and sugars.  And it means brown grains instead of white.  Yup, that's whole wheat pasta and brown rice.

And one pound at a time, the children around you will change.  Actions speak louder than words.  Your actions.  When you make the right nutritional choices, children will watch.  And learn.  And mimic.  And suddenly eating breakfast becomes cool again. Fruit smoothies and homework suddenly seems like a great idea.  Making sandwiches stuffed with lean turkey, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and mustard on a whole grain bread is suddenly a great lunch.  

One pound at a time.


Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati is the director of The Cleveland Clinic's LifeStyle 180 program and a regular columnist for ShareWIK.com

 

More Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati articles, click here.

 

Mar 28
There are many things that are tough about dieting. 

Like many people, I have struggled with that empty feeling in my stomach. Skinny people will tell you to embrace hunger. Yea, like I can stop thinking about food when my stomach is growling like a grizzly bear. 

But are those skinny people right? Do you have to embrace it or can you just learn to live with that empty feeling in your gut?

Water has been my saving grace this week. When I am feeling that empty pit in my stomach I have reached for a tall glass of water and a piece of sugarless gum.

I will admit that going to bed hungry in a one word, SUCKS, but I have done it plenty of times during my downsizing. 

Frankly, most nights when I hit the bed I am so exhausted that I am asleep in just a few minutes.  When I wake up I am so glad that I didn’t give in to my stomach before I went to bed and often in the morning the scale has rewarded me for my efforts.
 
Many diet plans recommend that you not eat after 7:30 at night or at least 3 hours before you go to bed. The theory is you are doing nothing but sleeping and you burn fewer calories during the night.  Granted you burn a few when you are sleeping but not many, so carbing up for a good nights rest isn’t a good idea. Sorry, no pint of ice cream before nightly night. 

Just give me a tall glass of water and I will burn a few calories getting up several times at night. 

Counting Calories 

The government recommends a daily caloric intake for women at 1,600 and 2,200 for men.  

Learn to count calories. The good, the bad and the just plain shouldn’t have in your diet. When you realize how much you are eating it will help you realize what you will need to do to lose your extra pounds. 

Measure out your food. Cut up veggies in advance. Spend time on the weekend preparing foods and portioning them up for the week. It sets you up to eating better during the week. 

Use spray oils lightly. There are calories in spray oils.  There are calories in them and they are measured in serving portions that are hard to achieve. Read the can and try to achieve a serving portion.

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.
 
More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.
More on Losing Weight
©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010   


You’ve heard the crazy statistics:

 

·      Our children are exposed to 40,000 ads a year.  

·      Images of women in magazines are stretched on average 15% to make the model appear leaner and taller. 

·      After just 3 minutes of looking at these images, 70% of females feel worse about themselves.

·      The average runway model used to be a Size 4-6; now she is Size 0. 

These days children and adolescents spend more time in front of a screen than they do with any other activity except school and sleeping, averaging SEVEN HOURS a day of texting, TV, IM, Facebook

So how does all this media saturation impact today’s girls?

The American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls was determined to find out.   

They discovered that the media was harmful to girls in a variety of ways, including causing impairments in cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, and beliefs.  In particular, the sexualization of females in the media was linked with eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression.

In 1998 Harvard psychologist, Anne Becker interviewed middle school girls in Fiji, three years after Western TV shows were introduced to the island.  She discovered TV exposure directly impacted the girls’ attitudes and beliefs.  They not only talked about the positive attributes of characters on TV, but the fact that they became preoccupied and disparaging of their own weight and body shape.  They actually started throwing up their food in an attempt to look like their new TV role models.  None of these attitudes or behaviors was present prior to their exposure to Western TV.   

So, does looking at skinny models or watching Hannah Montana cause eating disorders? 

It’s not that simple. 

All girls are impacted by the images.  But the girls who develop eating disorders are particularly sensitive to their environments.  They are the “canaries in the coalmine.”

So what’s a concerned parent to do (other than locking your child in a padded cell for 18 years)?

Monitor your kids’ media diet.  Change the channel or better yet, turn off the TV.  Ditch the magazines from the coffee table.  Talk to your kids about “the profit motive,” and explain how advertisers purposely try to increase insecurities so we will buy their products.  Along with your daughter, write letters to companies that are particularly bad offenders. 

By speaking up and speaking out, you empower your daughter to do the same.  The best defense is media literacy and awareness. 

Help your daughter channel her anger and healthy resistance outward, towards the purveyors of the messages.  Then she is less likely to turn the anger on herself (and her body) for not measuring up.

Raise Your Right Hand and Repeat The M.O.D. Squad Principle #7: BALANCE ENJOYMENT OF MEDIA WITH A CRITICAL EYE

 

While recognizing the fun aspects of the media, I will teach her to view media critically, being especially aware of messages promoting intolerance, materialism, sexism, weightism, violence against or the objectification of women and the sexualization of children.  I will promote systemic change by speaking out (writing letters, e-mails or taking other actions) when companies demean or objectify women and children.

 

####

Disclaimer #1: These principles apply to Dads and sons as well.

Disclaimer #2: An eating disorder is not a choice.  It is a mental disorder caused by a complex combination of genetic, personality, familial, social and cultural influences.   

 

####
To start a M.O.D. Squad group, visit
www.MyEdin.org

 


Dina Zeckhausen is a nationally-known psychologist who specializes in treating adults, teenagers and children with eating disorders and body image issues.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist and the author of the children's book, "Full Mouse, Empty Mouse: A Tale of Food and Feelings."  You can visit her on the web at dinazeckhausen.com and MyEdin.org.

 

More Dina Zeckhausen articles, click here.

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 

Apr 13

One recent afternoon, I was indulging in the simple pleasure of channel surfing on my TV when I landed on an episode of Dr. Phil.   

That afternoon, it was the fat people versus the skinny people.  

Not too unexpected, everyone on the set was yelling at each other about how fat people were being treated on airlines. The loud discussion was focused on how large people should purchase two seats if they spilled over onto another paying customer’s seat.

I could relate to the overweight panelists who were offended, feeling they were being singled out because of their size. I remember a flight when the attendant followed me after I boarded the plane, waving a seatbelt extender behind me.  After I found my seat, she made a scene, making sure the whole plane knew I needed extra material to strap myself in during the flight.

The sticks and stones being thrown around the Dr. Phil set by both the skinny people and the fat people rang all to familiar to me. 

On the skinny side of the debate was Jillian Michaels, trainer on The Biggest Loser; MeMe Roth, president of the anti-fat organization National Action Against Obesity; Michael Karolchyk, owner of the Anti-Gym. 

On the other side of the bench were the “fat” people: Peggy Howell from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance; Marianne Kirby, author of Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere; Erica Watson, star of the one-woman show "Fat Bitch."  And there was poor Kelly Osborne trying to tell the story from both sides of the fence.  (By the way, Osborne looks fabulous and she really seems to have a handle of what it takes to stay that way.)

From the skinny side of the bench: "To believe that fat people are discriminated against, you have to believe that obesity is an innate state, like race, like sexual orientation. Obesity is not an innate state," said MeMe Roth.

From the fat side of the bench: "My body is not public property. It’s no one else’s business to tell me what I should be doing with my body," said Peggy Howell.

The heated debate was so involved that it was subject for not one, but two episodes of Dr. Phil. The more the heavy people talked, the more they were shot down for their opinions on the entire debate.

It was truly the fat people vs. the skinny people.

I just sat there listening to the jabs.  I have lived my life on both sides of the hefty debate. I remember how hurtful the insults were as they were thrown in my direction.  Like the many times I walked down the street and someone yelled, “Lard ass.”  I know all too well from personal experience that there is a bias in this country toward the obese.

People should be able to live their lives as they choose but as a lighter person, I know that I am healthier for my efforts of losing as much weight as I did.    

There is no debating that point.

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight




 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

Apr 25

When I set out to lose weight several years ago, I thought I was going on yet another diet.  What I realized after a few months was that if I was going to really get rid of my weight—and keep it off—I needed to change my whole relationship with food.  

That meant that everything—from how much I ate to what I ate—had to change. 

When I weighed 340 pounds, I actually thought I ate healthy.  But I was fooling myself.  Hey, I only went through a drive-thru once or twice a week.  And compared to most Americans, I thought that was pretty good.  

One of the first things I did was begin to take note of what the “skinny” people at my office ate for lunch.  I noticed a lot of them went to the salad bar, skipped the bread and asked for smaller portions of the cafeteria’s “Specials.”  Initially, I joined them in line at the salad bar; but after a few weeks of the same thing, day-after-day, I began to pack my own lunches. By packing, I could cut down on expenses and, at the same time, offer myself more variety.

I learned that healthy eating wasn’t just a concept.  With a little planning, it could become a reality for me.

Here is a look at my lunch shopping list and how I organize two weeks of lunches with a single trip to my local health food store.

“Pack it smart and healthy” is my new lunchtime motto.

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight


 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 

May 23

Every time I think about my friend, Willa I get a lump in my throat because I wish I could have done more to help her.

 

Willa passed away over a year ago and I still have a hard time gathering my thoughts about a woman whose heart was a big as her smile. Her passing brought me to tears; and even now, as I think about her and how dedicated she became to losing weight and getting healthier, I cry. 

 

Unfortunately, time ran out for her.

 

Willa worked in the cafeteria in my office during the day and cleaned offices at night.  She struggled to get through her days as a woman who weighed 440 pounds. The small task of walking around the eatery took her longer than most but she always did it with a smile on her face and without complaint.

 

Several years ago, I noticed that her white food service jacket was getting big on her and I asked her if she was losing weight. She came from behind the counter and put her finger on my nose and told me that I had inspired her to lose weight.  (I had already lost over 100 pounds at the point.)


Jun 06


Seventy million Americans are overweight and I was one of those obese souls.

At 340 pounds, I classified myself as pleasingly plump, but my doctors preferred the term morbidly obese. They urged me to have “the surgery,” but I turned a deaf ear to the skinny people in their white coats.


Finally at midlife, I took off my rose-colored glasses and realized I had a problem, a rather large one at that. I was all too aware that diets don’t work, and in the end most people wind up heavier for their efforts. It was my problem and I had to solve it.


700,000 CALORIES AND COUNTING


I purchased many weight-loss programs over the years, but never put them into action. So I went into my closet of good intentions and began teaching myself how to incorporate healthy food and exercising to burn off what I ate. I became my own trainer and nutritionist, lost 200 pounds and burned more than 700,000 calories to accomplish that feat.


Eating healthfully and working out does work. Who knew?


I will never regret my decision to change my life. There have been many bumps in the road but in the end I am glad that I learned from the available healthy tools that weight loss is about teaching your self better eating and exercise habits.


CALORIES IN, CALORIES OUT


Weight loss comes down to a simple math equation: Calories in, calories out.


Few weight-loss options seem to have lasting results, which has led to the circus of snake-oil salesmen hawking their flim-flam solutions that seldom work. The quick fixes don’t work, and with every passing year more and more people are becoming heavier and heavier.


Save your money on the quick-fix solutions and use the money for all the cute clothes that you will soon be able to buy.


I hope you find the power within yourself to make your wishes come true for a better life.



Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

 


Jun 20

The minute I realized that I was no longer tucking my kids in at bedtime, I knew I had to make a change. 


This may sound like a strange thing to change your life, but I wasn’t tucking them in because their bedrooms were on the second floor.  I had no energy to walk up the stairs in the evening.  My 7 year old would make me promise I would tuck her in.  I lied right to her beautiful little face so many times when I said I would be up before she fell asleep. 


I’ve fought the weight so many times.  It always came back (and brought a few friends along).  Sitting at my desk…commuting…and sitting at home in the evening;  I hated the word, but I was, in fact, sedentary.   The scale was tipping and I was panicking. I had tried everything…was there anything that would work for me?


I went to see my therapist, Susan.  I knew she would help me with my plan.  I knew this, because we had done it so many times before.  “Susan, I’ve given up sugar”…”Susan, I’m doing Weight Watchers”…”Susan, I’m trying Jenny Craig”.  There had been so many attempts to become the person who I was on the inside.  I remember telling a friend that the person she sees is not who I really am.  I had no idea how to let the real me come out to play.


Thankfully, I did one thing differently this time.  I asked Susan’s advice.   She told me about a new program she had heard about at the Cleveland Clinic called Lifestyle 180.  I couldn’t think of a better definition of what I wanted to achieve than a Lifestyle 180.  This felt right and I signed up.


For six weeks, in our twice-weekly sessions we learned how to live the “180 lifestyle.”  We had classes in nutrition, healthy cooking, yoga, and stress management.   We learned how to use healthy ingredients and cooking methods to make some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten in my life.


I realized how confused I had been about nutrition.  High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a great example.  I had been reading a book about HFCS.  The author said that it was bad for you; but playing in the back of my head was the commercial where the one mom says, “You let your kids have high fructose corn syrup?  You know what they say…” and the other mom says, “What? That it’s is made from corn and is all natural?”   There was so much conflicting information that I couldn’t discern what was real. (Note: we learned in 180 that HFCS is pretty darn bad for you.)


And we worked out.  Our trainer worked us hard, but she made it fun.  She made sure we pushed ourselves but not too hard.  It seems one of the keys to becoming fit, is to gradually work your way up.  I think this keeps injuries away that might halt your progress.    I remember so many times when I would be gung ho for my new fitness program (often on New Years Day), and within the first week I had hurt my ankle and was back to sitting on the couch.  The 180 program got us to a level where we were fit enough to work out.


So what was the result of the first six weeks?   I began to have real energy!  I kept moving long after I got home in the evening.  I was constantly joining the kids in activities.  I went swimming with them when I took them to swim.  We did walking videos in the winter when it was too cold to walk outside.  I laughed when my 9 year old would make up an excuse to go check on something in her room because she couldn’t finish my workout!  I was no longer waiting to live once I lost enough weight…I was living!


I also learned the secret to losing weight.  Persistence.  It’s not like a video game that has harder levels.  You just learn the basics and then keep doing it.  Nothing magic, nothing more difficult than the day I said this was how I was going to live.  You just have to keep living your healthy lifestyle.  You will get off track.  But you know exactly what to do to get back on track.  It’s the same as you did the day before you got off track.  And the same as so many days that will come.  Follow the rules of the program and feel the rewards.


So has it been a perfect journey? No.  I lost my dear grandfather this March and I took it badly.  Some of my coping skills from before 180 reared their ugly heads.  Comfort eating…not making myself a priority….it was nowhere near a perfect time.  But we were prepared for what to do when we slipped…so I slipped and then got back on track. 


Do not take those last words lightly…I have NEVER, EVER been able to course correct before.  Once I had fallen off of a diet, it was done.  I was a perfectionist in the least helpful sense of the word.  If it wasn’t perfect, it was failure.  And, if I failed (aka was not perfect) at eating properly, everything was fair game. 


So where am I today?  In 30 weeks, I have lost 30 pounds; my cholesterol is within 10 points of the healthy range; I have stopped taking heartburn and anxiety medication; heck, my face even cleared up.  I turned 40 on May 16th of this year.  I kicked off the celebration with my first 5K on May 15th.


If you are struggling with being overweight - don’t give up!  Consult experts.  Commit to yourself and the people you love.  Find what works for you and make a change.  Before you know it, you’ll be 30 weeks down the road; and I can tell you that the view is great from here!

 

Lisa T is the mother of three children and lives in the Cleveland area.  


©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jun 20

Summer time in the Midwest

 

I live in Cleveland.  And Summer, my favorite season, lasts only a few short months.  All I can do is think about how I am going to fit in all the warm weather things I love to do in such a short period of time; walking, farmers markets and of course my first love, swimming.

 

I moved back to my beloved Ohio nearly 15 years ago after a long stint in South Florida. I think I moved back just to be near the fresh tasty riches that come from the fertile fields of my homeland.  Buying produce right out the hands of the farmers that grew the treasures is not only good for the economy but for your waistline as well.

 

My grandmother instilled upon me at an early age, “Honey, if it doesn’t smell like what it should taste like, then don’t buy it.”

 

The first farmer's market opened this month and I was all to eager to take a walk at lunchtime to see what was available early in the season.

 

Tables full of strawberries were the first things I spotted as I approached the handful of stalls. The smell of the farm-fresh berries was intoxicating. I bought two quarts and happily passed by the booths with yummy baked goods knowing that I had something better to eat in my sack.

 

I went back to the office and washed them off and polished off a quart at my desk. A coworker stopped by and commented that they couldn’t believe I ate the whole quart but the irony was that person was holding a bag of chips from the vending machine. I pointed out that the chip bag had more calories than the quart of pure nutrition that I just devoured. I am not sure that person really got the message.  Oh well, their loss.

 

Summer time is here and those lush fragrant sweet berries were just the beginning of what is to come. 


I can hardly wait for peach season.

 

5 Tips to Take Advantage of Fruits in Season: 

  • Take the time to visit your local farmer’s market and meet the people that grow the sweet treasures of summer. 
  • Buy extras and freeze them.  Frozen blueberries, strawberries and yes, peaches, taste great in smoothies. 
  • Eat fresh berries after dinner to satisfy your sweet tooth and avoid high-calorie, high-fat desserts. 
  • Try grilling peaches to use as a side dish instead of noodles or potatoes.
  • And don’t forget to load up on the fresh basil and make pesto.  You can make a couple batches and freeze the extras to bring summer to mind during the winter months.    

Well, I’m off to go hit the pool and do some laps. The TV is off for the summer and it is truly the season of perpetual motion for me.

 

Enjoy!

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

Jul 05

The hour is early—well, at least it is for me.  The neighborhood birds are squawking louder than what I can sleep through. (Don’t those feathery creatures know that it isn’t even 5 a.m.?)

 

As I toss and turn trying to figure out a way to muffle the birds’ constant chirping, I can’t help but think of everything that is on my plate for the day: the balancing act that is my life.

 

I sit here typing before the sun comes up, running through my to-do list.  What needs to be done today?  At work?  At home?  And then, of course, when will I get my workout in?  And how much time will I have to devote to it in the few hours that I can call my own?

 

I went to the local swimming pool yesterday and enjoyed every minute that I got to spread my wings and glide through the water. I love the freedom that swimming allows me, especially the quiet it provides to just let my mind go and my thoughts run wild as the water washes over me.

 

When you’ve been overweight most of your life, like I have, working out daily isn’t an option.  Working out isn’t part of “diet plan” or a fad that I’m into—it is part of my lifestyle.  Everyday, without fail, I have to move my butt.  Period. 

 

And because exercise isn’t optional for me, I try to find ways to make it enjoyable.  Some days I walk along the lakefront or in my neighborhood.  On other days, I work out to an exercise tape, do Pilates, go to the gym or take a friend along to join me in whatever I’m doing. 

 

But my all-time favorite thing to burn calories is swim. 

 

There are only two months out of the year that I can make my early morning swims a part of my daily workout routines and I try to fit it in as many as I can as the weather and my schedule allows. The fact that my morning crawl at 50 yards a minute burns about 540 calories per hour is a great plus for me.

 

I know that swimming isn’t for everyone but walking in water helps take the pressure off aching joints and provides 12 times the resistance of air. The calories you could burn can equal my efforts of doing my morning swim.

 

Every morning the pool is filled with older women walking back and forth for hours.  One woman is there every morning.  She is 86-years-old and walks beside my swimming lane.  She often comments how glad she is to be there every day and smiles about how she looks forward to just waking up tomorrow and getting her feet wet.

 

I just smile back and tell her I couldn’t agree more. 

 

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

More on Losing Weight

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

Jul 19

Several years ago, Joy Bauer started a segment for the TODAY show called “The Joy Fit Club.”  Membership into her club was limited to those people who had lost more than 100 pounds. Currently, there are over 100 members of in Joy’s club and our hope is to encourage others to follow in our footsteps and become healthier by reducing our weight.

 

Another member of this elite club is my friend John Staton of Michigan.

Like me, John is also on a mission to get the word out that living a healthy lifestyle can have lasting results for your waistline.

 

He started a blog that follows his ups and downs about weight loss. His most recent entry was heartfelt and all to true for so many people that can’t find their way out of a weight problem

 

Obesity Kills

 

Today's blog is not a "happy" blog. While I prefer to focus on the positive and convince you of all the reasons you can and should lose weight from a positive perspective, there is, of course, a very negative side to obesity. I was reminded of that just this week.

 

First, a bit of background.

 

When I lost 230 pounds, I found myself with several boxes and bags of clothing that I could no longer wear. Most of the stuff was size 5x or 6x or 64 to 66 inch waists. I had paid a lot of money for those clothes. My job required professional dress, so within those items were pants, dress shirts, etc. that cost a couple hundred bucks each,

in some cases. I had a hard time parting with the clothes because of the money I had invested, so I tried to sell them on Craig's List. I had a few bites, but nothing panned out, so in the end, I decided to just give them away. I was going to take them to Goodwill but then I thought about it a little bit more and decided to give them to someone I thought could really use them.

 

I took the clothes to his house and he was indeed very grateful. He was especially grateful for the winter coat as he had been surviving Michigan's winters with nothing more than a sweatshirt jacket. He was also very grateful because he could not afford to buy the clothes he really needed. Wal-Mart and K-mart only carry up to 3x and the clothes I special-ordered were out of his budget.

 

I found out that the gentleman I gave these clothes to passed away this week, at the age of 42. He leaves a loving wife and young son. He had many health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure. I didn't have a chance to talk to him again after giving him the clothes and now I really wish I had taken the time to stay in touch with him.

 

This occurrence reminded me of something that most Americans refuse to acknowledge. Obesity kills. Our culture as a whole refuses to acknowledge this truth. We place Surgeon General warnings on cigarettes, but take our kids to McDonalds 3 times per week. We tell kids they can't consume alcohol until they're 21, but we cook box after box of unhealthy macaroni and cheese and serve it to them with a breadstick and "Juicy Juice."

 

Our nation has a death wish, and unfortunately, that death wish is being visited upon our children as well. Statistics out this week showed that obesity increased in 28 states from 2008 to 2009, including Michigan, which is ranked #10 nationwide. Michigan is on the cusp of passing the mark where 1/3 of its citizens are obese. Perhaps even more disturbing is the realization of how this trend has skyrocketed in a short period of time. Today, more than 2/3 of states have an obesity rate above 25-percent, whereas only 20 short years ago, NO state had a rate above 20 percent.

 

Enough is enough. It's too late for my friend, but I know he is now in a better place, but his son will grow up without his dad, and that is a profound injustice. We can do better. We MUST do better.

 

If you struggle with obesity, take a step - ANY STEP - today, and begin your journey to health and wellness. I began by walking to the end of my driveway and back and started paying attention to what I was eating for the first time in my life. YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

 

Please, don't let yourself become a statistic - do something about it - NOW.

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

Aug 01

Who isn’t watching their pennies these days?

 

My job is to keep up on the news and, to top it all off, I work as a designer for the business section of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.  I call it the department of doom and gloom.

 

The only good news in the business world is that because the economy is so bad we won’t be lacking for stories any time soon. 

 

When the economy is this bad, how do you buy nutritional items without going broke Sure a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is a cheap meal.  But it is far from being a nutritional meal. (Frankly, I think the box has more nutrients and fiber than what’s inside.)

 

When I am grocery shopping, I often find myself looking at other people’s carts and I wondering what they’re thinking buying so much junk. God gave us one body and it is our duty to take care of it.  Eat healthy, be wise with your money and enjoy the temple that you’ve been given. 

 

Eating right on a budget is tough but it can be done with some planning.

 

6 Tips to Shopping Healthy while Sticking to a Budget:  

 

1.   Make a list and stick to it.
2.   Shop the sales.
3.  Limit how much you eat out. Not great for the restaurant business but I am not alone in this rule. When I do go out I try to go to family places so that they can stay in business. They have more pride in what they are serving and are they grateful for your patronage.
4.  Pack your lunch and dinner.  I work a swing shift and this allows me to stay on my diet with little effort.
5.  Take advantage of the frozen veggies. There is no waste and they are far more economical.
6.  Search out the discount stores and compare prices. Target has great prices on staples; so does Costco. 

 

Put good calories into your body and your body will return the favor by remaining healthy. 

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Aug 15

Several years ago, I knew that if I was going to reach my goal of losing a great deal of weight that I needed to set up my own home gym.


I took the extra space in my basement and started added workout tools. I put a TV and boom box down there so that I wouldn’t get bored. I can’t make any excuses about why I can’t get to the gym, mine is only down a flight of stairs. It isn’t anything fancy but it’s worked for me.


Here are few of the readily available tools in my underground gym.


ACCUSPLIT AE170 Pedometer with Steps, Distance, and Calories Burned.


My dad gave me my first pedometer. I have used this brand for over 5 years and I just love it. I tell my friends and neighbors that I have walked my butt off in the community where I live and it’s true. This little trooper has helped me keep track of my long walks with my dog, Jerry. Every journey starts with a single step and this product has helped me keep track of my progress.


The Biggest Loser Workout, Volume One

Great workout that will tone and shape. Great place to start.


The Biggest Loser Workout: Power Sculpt and Cardio Max

This two-DVD series is a wonderful second step in getting fit.


Gaiam Pilates taught by Ana Caban —

Pilates is much easier to learn from a DVD than yoga. Half the time while learning yoga you are bent like a pretzel making it hard to see the TV. Plus Ana is great instructor. In order to fully utilize the video, make sure to grab a Covered Resistance Cord Kit at the same time as the DVD.


Core Secrets by Gunnar Peterson —

Good whole-body workouts. Focuses on building a strong core and overall flexibility.


Bring your bike inside and put it on a stationary rack


Exercise mat, hand weights and toning bands


Stamina Aero Pilates with Cardio Rebounder, Stand and Workout DVDs

Most expensive item in my collection but, once I dusted it off, it has been a wonderful machine for toning.


Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  


More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.



Aug 30

I hate to disappoint you but this column has little to do with sex, contains no lies.  And so I guess that leaves videotapes as the topic of the day.

 

Since I have already established that I hate going to the gym, I have found the best way to get my fanny moving is to pop a videotape or DVD into my TV. 

 

I am a sucker for those late night infomercials and I have quite the collection of items that have promised to make me look like Christy Brinkley in a matter of weeks. In the past, I thought that just buying a workout tape was all the effort that I needed to make me look fit and healthy. Wrong. You actually have to do the workout and not just pop the video in the TV. 

 

Over time I have learned, at least for me, not all workouts are created equally. I love the ones in my workout suggestions. They do a great job of taking it a bit slow at first so that you don’t get discouraged. When I pop in a new one and all they do is scream at you to move your butt I tend to pop it back out and add it to my pile of forget this workout tape.

 

There are some workouts that are best for a studio situation like yoga. Who doesn’t want to relieve stress through working out but when you are bent up like a pretzel it is hard to see the TV screen.

 

Pilates fits the relaxing and toning bill for me and you can actually do the workout and see what the instructor is telling you to do.

 

I am always keeping my eye out for a new workout to mix up my routines.  A trip to Target always exercise routine.

 

 

The Biggest Loser Workout, Volume One — Great workout that will tone and shape. Great place to start.

 

The Biggest Loser Workout: Power Sculpt and Cardio Max — This two-DVD series is a wonderful second step in getting fit.

 

Gaiam Pilates taught by Ana Caban — Pilates is much easier to learn from a DVD than yoga. Half the time while learning yoga you are bent like a pretzel making it hard to see the TV. Plus Ana is great instructor. In order to fully utilize the video, make sure to grab a Covered Resistance Cord Kit at the same time as the DVD.

 

Core Secrets by Gunnar Peterson — Good whole-body workouts. Focuses on building a strong core and overall flexibility.

 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

 

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Sep 12

My family will tell you in a loud voice that I used to be a salt-aholic. 


I would grab for the saltshaker without even tasting my food. Not a good habit. Most are in agreement that your daily intake of salt should be kept to a minimum—in fact, our daily intake should be only a teaspoon.  This includes all the salt that is hidden in most processed foods.

 

Since starting my new way of eating, I have cut back and frankly have put my saltshaker on vacation for the last several weeks. I use a lower sodium hot sauce if I feel the need to flavor my food.

 

I haven’t really given it much thought until this weekend when I was having lunch with my parents at Panera. I ordered the Low-fat chicken noodle soup; I am fighting a cold and it seemed like the thing to do.

 

The soup was served lukewarm and I sent it back but the salty taste from one spoonful stayed with me all day.  I did a web search on the nutritional value of the soup and learned that just one cup had 1110mg of sodium or 46% of your daily intake of salt.  Lesson learned!

 

7 Tips to lower your daily sodium intake: 

 


  • I have taken the saltshaker off my spice shelf and have replaced it with Vege-Sal Vegetized Seasoning Salt. It is lower in sodium than salt and its mix of spices and vegetables gives my food a nice flavor without all the sodium. I find it my local grocery store or health food market.
  • Use herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking and at the table. 
  • To add flavor to your food, use low sodium hot sauce or soy sauce.
  • Buy fresh, plain frozen or canned “with no salt added vegetables or better, use fresh.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned or processed types.
  • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.
  • Choose "convenience" foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings — these often have a lot of sodium.  If you still want to eat them, at least take the time to look up on the internet the nutritional values in the food you’re eating.  It’s a real eye-opener. 


 

Lisa Griffis lost 185 pounds through diet, exercise and sheer determination.  To find out more about Lisa, visit her blog at www.lisagriffis.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.  

 

More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

 

 

Jan 02

Oprah Winfrey’s first name is actually a spelling mistake made by a birthing nurse in deep Mississippi in 1954.  The child, born into abject poverty and a dysfunctional family situation, was named for the biblical character, Orpah—sister-in-law of Ruth, the consummate convert to Judaism, and a maternal ancestor, according to Christianity, of Jesus.  But our Oprah, the ultimate American media icon and true philanthropist, the racial precursor of Barack Obama, is perfectly suited to be herself—even if her name, her credo, and her soul don’t line up in letters.

 

Last year, in yet another stirring and admirable personal drama, Ms. Winfrey went very public with her latest weight gain.  She even authorized a cover photo for her magazine, O, showing the 200+ pound Oprah gazing painfully at her earlier svelte and flat-stomached self from several years ago.  She made several printed, Internet, and televised statements decrying her failure and vowing to return to her slimmer self.  She has inspired many to deal more scrupulously with the maddening crucible of weight control and our vast insecurities.

 

There is hardly a more pervasive and spiritually-challenging struggle in American life, our vanities and narcissism notwithstanding, than the struggle that so many of us—particularly women—are constantly afflicted with than our weight and physical appearance.  This is not to say that there aren’t an extraordinary number of fat men in the US.  It is to say that men are not held to the excruciating, even callous standards that the media, the fashion world, food industry, the gossip culture, and, yes, men impose on women. 

 

Men can indulge and look like roly-poly caricatures, and—their metabolic and cardiovascular systems aside—still not be humiliated at work, in a store, or even on television.

 

In making her confessional so public and bold (a continuing tradition that speaks to Oprah Winfrey’s disarming honesty and self-revelation), this remarkable woman has again proven that she is one of the most spiritually-centered and mentally healthy women or men in this country.

 

Oprah Winfrey, the child of unmarried and reckless parents, rose from destitution and a tormented youth to become the most powerful and influential woman in television and, according to Forbes Magazine, the world's most highly paid entertainer. Though primarily recognized as a talk show hostess, Winfrey also produces and occasionally acts in television movies and feature films that are invariably value-redemptive.  But her greatest wealth is the moral currency she brings to the American social scene—with her candor, convictions, and unrelenting commitment to self-improvement.  Even as she glitters, we still see the vulnerable and abused child from Mississippi who overcame exploitation, racism, stereotyping in terms of skin color and body shape, and is now our de facto cultural prime minister.

 

In an America brimming dangerously with anorexia, teenage suicide, blatant chauvinism, a saturation of antidepressants, a sea of vanity, and viral greed, Oprah Winfrey has never been afraid to name symptoms and advocate cures.  This standard she has now again applied objectively to herself and I say, God bless her.

 

Ben Kamin is one of America's best known rabbis, a multicultural spiritualist, NYT Op-ed contributor and author of seven books, including his latest, "NOTHING LIKE SUNSHINE: A Story in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination."  He is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. To find out more about Ben, go to: www.benkamin.com 

More Ben Kamin articles, click here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Cara has been seeing me in therapy for several years for help with her food and weight issues.  A bright, attractive woman married to a great guy, she has a significant amount of weight to lose.  Over the years, she has lost weight through dieting only to gain back more than she originally lost. The extra weight holds her back sexually with her husband, decreases her physical activity and has contributed to arthritic pain. She fears that cancer, heart problems or diabetes could be in her future.  

  

Through the course of our work, she has made tremendous progress in multiple areas. She’s set up her life to pursue her many creative gifts, including building a career that combines her business savvy with her passions.  She and her husband have improved their communication.  She has widened her network of support and developed deeper and more authentic friendships. 


However, her weight has barely budged.  Frustrated with herself and this therapy process, she wonders if the change will ever take place. She has trouble trusting that, in fact, she has been putting the pieces in place for her to finally succeed. 


There is a term in Science called “homeostasis,” defined as: the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition.  Family therapists use this term to describe the family system.  Members of a family often feel pressure to remain the same so as not to throw the system off balance. Rigid families discourage change, while flexible families are more likely to evolve in positive directions together.


In a healthy family, the dramatic weight loss of one member may cause everyone to get healthier; the system is flexible enough to “bend” and it can re-organize itself at a higher (healthier) level. But in a rigid family system, one member losing weight may put too much pressure on the family. Sometimes the family cannot bend that far, and it breaks.  


For Cara, the fear of this break is at the root of her weight problem.  Losing the weight for good will take a profound and deep mental shift. In order to consistently make the daily changes, she will have to re-write her family story--a story which was composed generations ago.  Then she will need courage to hold onto her new story while remaining engaged with her closest family members. 


Cara grew up in a working class family in a small town.  Her parents divorced when she was a kid and it was her job to care for her younger sister, do well in school and be the emotional caretaker for her parents.  As a child she comforted herself with food (like everyone in her family).  No one spoke of, nor thought about, the concept of emotional needs.  Life was about daily survival.


Cara grew up fast.  Bright, exceedingly capable and responsible, she pretended that she was fine so as not to trouble her family. Over the years, her weight climbed as she buried her feelings in food.  She went to college, got a job and left her small town for the big city.  


Cara was saddled with two conflicting family messages: while it was her role to bring esteem to her family (they loved to “brag on” her successes) it was also conveyed that she should never act “too good” for her family. The no-win message was: “Succeed!... but don’t make us feel bad about ourselves.  Make us proud, but don’t get too big for your britches.” 


As an adult, Cara can now see from the outside how her family has made and continues to make poor life decisions, how they are often the cause of their own misery. There is a sense of fatalism and passivity in her family. In all the things they say and do, this message is conveyed: We are unlucky.  Bad things happen to us.  Let’s pray things get better some day, but we might as well EAT since our fate is out of our control.


As a successful, married woman hundreds of miles away, Cara has proven to herself that she is the writer of her own script. But when it comes to her weight, Cara has bought the family myth: There is nothing I can do about it.  We’ll just see what happens.  Maybe someday it will change. 


But the core fear is that eating healthy, exercising and feeling good in her body will mean that she has out-grown her last connection to that which is familiar.  When she goes home, their idea of fun is eating lots of fattening and delicious food.  They bond through Food and the misery of being overweight.  If Cara makes a healthy food-choice in their presence, they chide her for being a “party-pooper.”  In her family the unhappy, over-weight women view women in healthy bodies as alien, superior creatures: it is an “Us vs. Them” mentality.


While being an “Us” may kill Cara, being a “Them” feels like abandoning (and being abandoned by) the family she loves.


Cara will need to accept that it is possible to BOTH take care of her body AND love and connect to her family members.  She will have to develop stronger psychological boundaries, so that their suffering does not become her burden to fix.  When they tease her for being healthy, she can learn to not take it personally.  Cara can find a new way be part of her family, with physical energy and healthy self-worth. 

   

There may be more tears shed in my office as she grieves the loss of the old, familiar way of being close to her family, but she can learn how to forge new healthier bonds without sacrificing her own well-being. 

   

Dina Zeckhausen is a nationally-known clinical psychologist and author who specializes in treating eating disorders and body image in both adults and adolescents. She is a weekly columnist for ShareWiK.com. You can visit her on the web at dinazeckhausen.com and MyEdin.org.

 

More Dina Zeckhausen articles, click here

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC    

Jan 02

Years ago, when I’d already lost a fair amount of weight and had 10 more pounds to shed, friends and relatives would often ask me what I was “doing.” In other words, what was my Big Secret for losing weight? At the time, I thought the answer seemed pretty obvious. I was eating less and moving my body more.

 

I know my “Big Secret” is easier said than done and may even sound a little flippant, as in ‘duh Ellen, thanks so much for that wonderful insight.’ But eating less and moving more has always been my “formula” for losing weight. The thing is I’ve never been a fan of the “special diets” with goofy names that require you to X out entire food groups – such as carbohydrates. Call me old school. But for some reason I still believe that eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is the best way to shed pounds and feel better in the long run (that and I DO love a heaping mound of mash potatoes from time to time!).

 

Having said that, through the years, I’ve learned some tips and tricks that have helped me and many of my coaching clients lose weight when the scale gets a little tipsier than we’d like.

 

Listed below are six of those tips, but please keep in mind that we’re all so different and therefore require different strategies, so pick and choose and experiment until you find some solutions that work well for YOU:

 

Be Clear About WHY You Want to Lose Weight – If you’re reading this you may be thinking ‘come on, Ellen: isn’t it obvious why I want to lose weight?’ No it isn’t. The truth is everyone has a slightly different reason for wanting to lose weight. Some people may want to “look better.” Others may want to be able to keep up with their grandkids. And some people – who are overweight and at risk for heart disease and diabetes ----may want to live long enough to see their child’s wedding when that happy day rolls around. I once worked with a coaching client who wanted to lose weight and get in better shape so she could cover stories, as a journalist, that required her to spend time hiking in mountainous terrain. The thing is that if we have an intrinsic, or internal motivation for losing weight, or for making any kind of change in our life, we’re more likely to reach our goal. So while a doctor may convince you that it’s a good idea for you to lose weight, that will only go so far. Unless you have your own reason for shedding the pounds and keeping the weight off, you won’t be as successful as someone who is inspired by an internal flame.

 

Write it Out – Many of us have heard that writing out our goals can help us achieve our dreams, and I’ve certainly found that to be true, both in my personal life and as a coach. So write out your goals and make sure they are specific. In other words, how much weight do you want to lose, and by when? And how often do you plan on exercising each week? Each day, look over your weight loss goals, as a reminder.

 

Make it Fun – Are weight loss and fun mutually exclusive? I don’t think so, though some believe otherwise. In my opinion, when we approach weight loss in the spirit of fun, finding recipes that we like and creating an exercise plan that is enjoyable, rather than sheer drudgery, we’re more likely to achieve our goals.  Case in point: I once had a client who incorporated dance into her exercise routine, and looked forward to “exercising” because it was an enjoyable activity rather than something she “had to do.” I’ve also worked with people who recorded their favorite TV programs and then watched them while they were on the treadmill, and looked forward to “their guilty pleasures,” as they put it. The point is that if you can find a way to enjoy your exercise routine you’re more likely to stick to it, and in doing so you’ll be more likely to lose weight.

 

Make an Appointment with Yourself – Everyone has a different way of doing this, but what I do is block off an hour each weekday for exercise – usually at the same time everyday. That strategy has been working for me for more than a decade, because it’s in writing, and I’m committed to maintaining my health through exercising regularly. Years ago, I used a paper calendar. These days, I use an electronic Google calendar, which allows me to color code my calendars, something that provides me with an odd and inexplicable lift. So give it a try. Make an appointment with yourself to move your body, and hold that appointment dear. Because your goals are important, and you’re worth it!

 

Seek Out Support – Have you ever had the experience of really, truly wanting to make a change in your life, but no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t seem to make it happen? If so, that doesn’t make you a lazy person or a hopeless case. It just may mean you need a little extra support. So consider joining a support group for people who want to lose weight, or hiring a coach. Coaches can help you over that invisible hump. We can help you set measurable, reasonable goals, assist you in creating a plan that works for you, help you identify and overcome any limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck, and hold you accountable to what you say you’re going to do.

 

Forgive Yourself  -- Unless you’re perfect, and I don’t know anyone who is, you’re probably going to experience some backsliding from time to time. Maybe you’ll get crazy busy with a work-related project and “forget” about exercising for a full week. Or perhaps you’ll indulge in a third piece of chocolate cake and feel glutton’s remorse.” We’ve all experienced our own version of that defining moment. The good news is that you have a choice, at that point. You can either beat yourself up and tell yourself that there’s no use in bothering to lose weight. Or you can be gentle with yourself, remind yourself that we all make mistakes, and forgive yourself. After all, tomorrow is another day, to start anew. Don’t forget that losing weight is a process,  not a destination, a path, if you will, to a healthier you.

 

What or who has helped you lose weight? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment, here on ShareWIK.com.

 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach, based in Cleveland, OH, and a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.  Visit her website at http://ellen-brown.com.  

 

For more Ellen Brown columns, click here.

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group

How about starting the New Year differently this year?  Not with the latest fad diet, but with a new mentality? 


Why not begin the year by taking a deeper look into the myths and messages you bought into growing up that have shaped your belief system and prevented you from losing weight and living fully!  Open your mind to the possibility that by changing your way of thinking, you can choose a new reality this year.  Imagine giving up the self loathing and replacing it with love and respect for yourself and your body.  


Let me share part of my own journey… 


After years of jumping on the bandwagon of every diet craze under the sun, it suddenly dawned on me that diets don’t work or there wouldn’t be a new one out on the market every week. When I began dieting it was fashionable to do the Stillman Diet, the Atkins Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, while today some of the more popular fads include the Hollywood Cookie Diet, Super Smoothie Diet & the South Beach Diet.  I was looking for a “magic bullet.”  One myth is that there’s some magic solution; another myth is that it's all about willpower.   


Realizing that while all my diets started with the best of intentions, they always ended in yet another cycle of deprivation and bingeing, leaving me feeling depressed and hopeless. 

The truth is that dieting is not about the food, it’s about your emotions and what you’re truly hungering for.  Unfortunately, most diets don’t teach you any skills or tools to help you deal with all the emotional underpinnings that must be addressed if weight loss is to be permanent.  


The epiphany came when I realized this was a process and change wouldn’t happen overnight. Change takes place with consistent, sustained effort, energy, and by making mistakes—and most importantly, learning from them.  


This was going to be a marathon, not a sprint. 


While living in Boston, I created Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet program for managing weight, changing eating habits and making peace with food, one’s body and oneself.  Now after 30 years, I can see how developing Slimworks was my way of not only healing my own disordered eating, but also my attitudes and beliefs about myself and my body.  These beliefs contributed to my being locked into a diet mentality and the insidious cycle of deprivation and bingeing that kept me from living fully.  


Sound familiar? 


In my Slimworks groups I ask my clients to think about the internalized messages told to them as children by their parents, siblings, peers, extended family, society, etc. about food, weight, their bodies, and themselves. 


Here's some of the most common:  

§  Finish your plate because there are starving children in …

§  You shouldn’t eat ______ or you’ll get fat.

§   Thin people are happy, successful, popular, have it all.

§   Eat something, food will make you feel better…

 

Being told to finish your plate because of the starving children living wherever your parents said they were, is a recipe for eating out of guilt and without regard to your true, internal hunger or your internal point of satisfaction.  The more you eat out of guilt or to please others, the more you lose touch with your body’s inner signals and your own needs.  This only leads to an inability to trust your body. 


Being told you “shouldn’t” eat something sets up a dynamic which makes you want to REBEL—usually causing the opposite to happen. It also adds an unhealthy dose of fear to whatever the food is since you are now convinced that you are destined to be fat if you eat it.  


As for the notion that thin people are happy, successful, popular, have it all… when you think about it, aren’t there thin people you know that are unhappy, have problems, and are not where they want to be in life?  Being thin doesn’t come with an automatic key to happiness and success.  That comes from within and takes time and experience to cultivate.  


And finally, eating something to make you feel better only works temporarily.  It will never fill the emptiness inside.  It will only serve to stuff down the emotions that need to be expressed, not suppressed.  So your time is better spent practicing communicating your feelings, not giving yourself the message that you “shouldn’t” feel the way you do and that your feelings aren’t important or valid.  You have a right to feel whatever you do and to give voice to those feelings. 


In order to began to heal your relationship with food and reconnect mind and body, you’ve got to be aware of what myths you’ve bought into and decide whether you’re going to continue to believe them or choose a new belief based on what’s true for you today.  Remember it’s our feelings and thoughts that drive our actions—so notice the negative internal dialogues you carry on with yourself, visualize a stop sign, and reframe that negative thought into something positive, self accepting and encouraging.  You may be surprised to discover that positive action will result and that you have reconnected with your body. 


It’s time to write a new script. 


Remember this is a process.  And like a labyrinth it has many twists and turns, with some dead ends along the way.  But with patience, courage, tenacity, and effort you will find your way out.  


Freedom from diets await you.  Shape your mind, your body will follow. 

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.comShe is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

Jan 02

This time of year, you can’t get out of the “What’s your new year’s resolution?” conversation.  Judging from television commercials and web ads, losing weight is at the top of many people’s lists. 

 

My new year’s resolutions used to be quests that would turn me into a Martha Stewart protégé.  A really skinny one.  Who was also in good shape.

 

But no more. 

 

It’s not a bad thing to establish new eating and exercise habits.  But, like so many others, my tendency to overeat and skip the daily exercise regimen is usually due to incessant issues of stress and lack of time. 

 

So, I decided made reducing stress and making more time for myself part of my goals for the year.

 

In other words, I avoid things that annoy me and/or waste my time.

 

It started a few years ago, when I decided I would not go to WalMart after Thanksgiving.  This accomplished both goals: more time, less stress.  Because WalMart is a cultural center in our community.  I can’t enter that windowless cement-block cavern without meeting someone I know – which leads to a conversation that wasn’t in the schedule — and buying numerous items I didn’t know I needed.  


I never left that place in a good mood.

 

No more.  My six-week experiment went so well, I never turned back.  It’s been years since I stepped foot inside a WalMart.

 

But why stop there?

 

I quit beating myself up for not keeping up with my Grandmother’s standards of housekeeping.  (They were higher than Martha’s.)  That means I ignore cobwebs until I have time to dust. 

 

I don’t answer my kids’ dumb questions anymore, either.  If they ask where the milk is, I just let them answer the question on their own in the pregnant silence. 

 

I leave a little early in the morning to avoid the morning carpool congestion at my kids’ schools.  They don’t necessarily enjoy getting out of bed five minutes early; it’s their gift to me.

 

If I trip over toys or shoes left out, I place them in the “you’ll have to buy this back” basket.

 

And if anyone asks why, I tell them: I’m avoiding things that annoy me or waste my time.

 

It’s the best diet I’ve ever been on.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  

 

After a stressful day at work, you come home, your head swimming with deadlines, your son needs you to pick him up from basketball practice, your daughter has dance class, your husband needs his clothes picked up from the cleaners for tomorrow’s business trip and you’re trying to create some space in your brain to think about what on earth you can prepare for dinner that’s quick and healthy! 


Suddenly, the vision of Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream” pops into your head and next thing you know, you’re standing in front of the refrigerator unconsciously stuffing food down your throat.  All you hear is the sound of your own muffled voice silenced by food. Then it all becomes a muddled mess of confusion—your boss’ needs, your children’s needs, your husband’s needs, your family’s nutritional needs.  And guess whose voice and needs are conspicuously missing in this complex web of life…YOURS!! 

 

YOU didn’t even make YOUR own priority list!

 

Learning to taking care of ourselves in a healthy ways is a complicated process and depends upon many factors such as how you were raised, what you saw modeled by your parents, siblings, peers, extended family, others in your life and the belief system you have internalized, just to name a few.  Growing up with a silent, self sacrificing mother who ran herself ragged “doing for everyone” and never taking time for herself or with a workaholic father whose only means of “de-stressing” from the day was by ingesting multiple stiff drinks each night, sends a number of messages to children.  Some might gleen from their parents’ behavior:

  • My needs and feelings are not important.
  • I must do everything to please others to be loved.
  • I should work until I’m exhausted without complaining.
  • Taking care of myself is selfish.
  • Alcohol is the best way to relax.
  • I have to be perfect.

 

Adopting and internalizing any or all of these beliefs is a recipe for being disconnected from your feelings and needs and can lead to a lifetime of unfulfillment, stuckness, and voicelessness. So how do you find fulfillment, get unstuck and find your own voice, you might ask…

 

Some or the main keys to your happiness and contentment is to learn to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually by being in touch with your feelings, needs, and desires, by learning how to set healthy boundaries with others and to find the assertive voice inside of you to express all of the above.  In so doing, you will find greater balance and discover your authentic self.

 

In my work with people struggling to lose weight and develop a healthy relationship with food, their bodies and themselves, I have noticed that once they find their voices and start using it, they begin to feel more integrated inside.  Their bodies and minds begin to work together as partners, not adversaries.  Consequently, their weight begins to drop.

 

A Case in point is Debra, a 30-year-old married woman who began treatment with me to lose weight, love and accept herself, and realize her dream of becoming a nurse. 

 

In order to do this, she explained she needed to be healthy and not have her mother be a trigger for her eating.  Tipping the scale at slightly over 300, she was discouraged and hopeless. Debra grew up as the only child of a loving Dad who traveled for worked a lot and did little “interfering” with the complex relationship with her critical, appearance conscious, laxative-using bulimic mother.  Debra’s mother often competed with her and compared her to other girls. Despite her excelling in a variety of sports, dance, and academics, she never felt like she measured up. 

 

The beginnings of her negative body image went back to age 5 as she described imagining that she had a zipper going down her body so she could zip herself out of it to be thin.  By age 7 her mother was “supergluing ” her ears back for dance recitals, telling her daughter that they “stuck out.”  Ultimately, she convinced Debra to have them surgically “pinned back.”  By 12, Debra had written a suicide note that her mother found and got angry over.  Just before starting high school her mother put her 15-year-old daughter on an extreme diet on which she lost 60 lbs and completed the makeover by taking her for a breast reduction.  The only messages Debra remembers getting from her mother regarding food were---“See how little you can eat,” “Food is bad and something you can’t control.”  Is it any wonder that she never felt good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or thin enough?

 

Through her young adulthood Debra’s weight skyrocketed and she sought treatment.  Her therapist suggested she “cut off” the relationship with her mother.  While staying in touch with her Dad, who she realized was uncomfortably in the middle, she stayed out of contact with her mother for a year.  Surprisingly, she lost weight.  Upon reconnecting with her mother however, she slowly regained. She had not yet found her voice.

 

Debra’s work with me has been about guiding her to find her voice and listen to it.  Today she knows what she feels and needs and expresses both without stuffing them down with food for fear of displeasing others. Her relationship with her husband had grown deeper emotionally.  She has learned to eat mindfully, listen to and trust her body’s physical needs and to be her authentic self.  As a part of loving, respecting and accepting herself and her body just as it is, she has bought new clothes, underwear, gym outfits that have enabled her to feel good about herself and comfortable while exercising.

 

As for her dream of becoming a nurse, it became clear to me early on that some of her past academic struggles might be related to undiagnosed ADD. Once tested and placed on the proper medication, her concentration and retention of information became easier and she is now excelling in Nursing School. 

 

As for Debra’s relationship with her parents, it was not my suggestion that she cut off her relationship with her mother though she chose to do so on her own until she felt her voice was strong enough.  But this time she brought her father into therapy and with her strong new voice told him, “I am angry that you never stood up for me against Mom.” Her father agreed and said he regretted not protecting her more.  Ten months later and 45 pounds lighter, Debra went home to test out her new voice with her mother, particularly adamant about having her mother see her in her current body, not after losing all of the weight she wanted.  This was truly a statement of self-acceptance.  With strength, clarity, and loving kindness, Debra heard the sound of her own voice and so did her mother.  The visit was followed by a card from Debra’s mom saying she loved seeing her and looked forward to their rebuilding a stronger, loving relationship.

 

Sometimes we need to disconnect from the old voice in order to come back together to hear the new one.

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.comShe is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you have probably been lured into the process by some appealing looking diet du jour.  Maybe you’ve even lost the desired weight, only to regain it and perhaps more.  Full of self-loathing and disappointment, you lick your wounds and vow to try again — next time you’ll have more willpower. 


Newsflash: It’s not about Willpower.


Many people have come into treatment with me to lose weight explaining that they’ve tried everything. They just see themselves as weak individuals with no willpower.  I always explain that you have to start by asking yourself what is motivating you to lose weight?  Once you begin to understand your reasons for wanting to lose weight, you can truly start to make progress. 


In thinking about writing this article, I discovered many different definitions of motivation but only one really hit the nail on the head.  According to motivation-for-dreamers.com, motivation is the reason for an action, that which gives purpose and direction to behavior.  It is “what drives you” to behave in a certain way or to take a particular action. It is your WHY.


Over the 30 years I have counseled people desiring weight loss, I have always reminded them first and foremost, that Slimworks, my non-diet, mindful-eating approach is not the quick fix that diets promise.  It is a process that takes time, energy, sustained effort, and a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them. 


In addition, you must practice being self-compassionate, not self- critical or judgmental.  But first you have to begin by looking at the various motivators that are driving your desire to change and lose weight—your very own WHYS.


These reasons are very important.  It is crucial that you take time to think about them, since I have worked with countless people who initially come in to lose weight for the wrong reasons and that inevitably leads to failure and frustration. What are the wrong reasons for losing weight?  Here are 10 common ones to avoid:


1. Losing weight for an event — a reunion, wedding, family gathering

Whenever you make an event your reason for losing weight, it is destined for failure because once the event is over, so is your motivation. 


2. Losing weight to be loved by your partner, parent, significant other

The focus has to be on loving yourself unconditionally as well as caring for and about yourself first, not trying to lose weight to get that love and affection from others. You’re the source.  It has to come from within.


3.   Losing weight to start dating

Your life has to start now, there’s no need to postpone things that you truly want — including a partner.


4.   Losing weight to fit into a specific size or be a certain number on the scale

You will discover that when you learn to eat according to your physical hunger and stop when you’re comfortably satisfied, your body will naturally gravitate toward a comfortable body weight that is sustainable.  You have to be realistic and not strive to be the weight you were in high school.   So keep the focus on the internal processes and your body will follow.


5.   Losing weight to go on vacation

Don’t wait, plan a vacation now.  No need to punish yourself or delay a much needed opportunity to rest, relax, and rejuvenate and experience someplace new.  You will get much more out of giving to yourself than depriving yourself.


6.   Losing weight to buy new clothes

Throughout the entire process of losing weight, you have to feel comfortable in your body.  Tight-fitting clothes just make you feel self- conscious and overly aware of not being where you want to be.  Buying new clothes that fit your current body size will make your feel more attractive and as you lose weight, you can always have them taken in.


7.   Losing weight in order to join a gym, do an exercise class or start an exercise plan

Isn’t there something oxymoronic about this?  You go to the gym to enhance your weight loss efforts, not to mention, the endorphins that your brain releases that make you feel good overall.  Remember there are people of all different shapes and sizes at the gym and if not, look around and choose a gym that feels comfortable to you.


8.   Losing weight to go out with friends

If someone is truly your friend, they don’t care what size you are.  They love and appreciate you for who you really are — both inside and out. Depriving yourself of fun with friends will just land you back into isolating and using food for comfort and soothing.


9.   Losing weight in order to look for a new job

Pursue a new job now.  If you’re unhappy with your present job, redo your resume, buy a new interviewing outfit, get some job coaching and go for it!  No need to put your life on hold.


10. Losing weight to go to the beach or the pool

There are all different sizes and styles of bathing suits out there—in stores and online.  If you enjoy the beach don’t deprive yourself. Find something you feel comfortable in and enjoy being by the ocean.  Go out and live your life.  No need to sit on the sidelines!

 

So if any of these reasons are some of your motivators for losing weight, think again.  Your reasons have to be deeper and more meaningful, ones that will withstand your urges to eat emotionally, impulsively, compulsively, and mindlessly.  They have to come from within.

 

Once you have your list of reasons, write them on an index card.  Put them by your bedside table and read them when you wake up in the morning and when you go to sleep at night.  Keep another copy at work in your desk drawer and one in your wallet so you can refer to it at anytime.  Constantly reminding yourself of your motivators can help to imbed them in your unconscious.  You can even have a good friend with a soothing voice record them onto a CD that you can upload onto your iPod.

 

Be creative and focused on your goals and you will stay motivated!!

 

Stay tuned…the next article is on the RIGHT reasons to ensure successful, sustained weight loss.

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer columns here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

After a stressful day at work, you come home, your head swimming with deadlines, your son needs you to pick him up from basketball practice, your daughter has dance class, your husband needs his clothes picked up from the cleaners for tomorrow’s business trip and you’re trying to create some space in your brain to think about what on earth you can prepare for dinner that’s quick and healthy! 


Suddenly, the vision of Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream” pops into your head and next thing you know, you’re standing in front of the refrigerator unconsciously stuffing food down your throat.  All you hear is the sound of your own muffled voice silenced by food. Then it all becomes a muddled mess of confusion—your boss’ needs, your children’s needs, your husband’s needs, your family’s nutritional needs.  And guess whose voice and needs are conspicuously missing in this complex web of life…YOURS!! 

 

YOU didn’t even make YOUR own priority list!

 

Learning to taking care of ourselves in a healthy ways is a complicated process and depends upon many factors such as how you were raised, what you saw modeled by your parents, siblings, peers, extended family, others in your life and the belief system you have internalized, just to name a few.  Growing up with a silent, self sacrificing mother who ran herself ragged “doing for everyone” and never taking time for herself or with a workaholic father whose only means of “de-stressing” from the day was by ingesting multiple stiff drinks each night, sends a number of messages to children.  Some might gleen from their parents’ behavior:

  • My needs and feelings are not important.
  • I must do everything to please others to be loved.
  • I should work until I’m exhausted without complaining.
  • Taking care of myself is selfish.
  • Alcohol is the best way to relax.
  • I have to be perfect.

 

Adopting and internalizing any or all of these beliefs is a recipe for being disconnected from your feelings and needs and can lead to a lifetime of unfulfillment, stuckness, and voicelessness. So how do you find fulfillment, get unstuck and find your own voice, you might ask…

 

Some or the main keys to your happiness and contentment is to learn to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually by being in touch with your feelings, needs, and desires, by learning how to set healthy boundaries with others and to find the assertive voice inside of you to express all of the above.  In so doing, you will find greater balance and discover your authentic self.

 

In my work with people struggling to lose weight and develop a healthy relationship with food, their bodies and themselves, I have noticed that once they find their voices and start using it, they begin to feel more integrated inside.  Their bodies and minds begin to work together as partners, not adversaries.  Consequently, their weight begins to drop.

 

A Case in point is Debra, a 30-year-old married woman who began treatment with me to lose weight, love and accept herself, and realize her dream of becoming a nurse. 

 

In order to do this, she explained she needed to be healthy and not have her mother be a trigger for her eating.  Tipping the scale at slightly over 300, she was discouraged and hopeless. Debra grew up as the only child of a loving Dad who traveled for worked a lot and did little “interfering” with the complex relationship with her critical, appearance conscious, laxative-using bulimic mother.  Debra’s mother often competed with her and compared her to other girls. Despite her excelling in a variety of sports, dance, and academics, she never felt like she measured up. 

 

The beginnings of her negative body image went back to age 5 as she described imagining that she had a zipper going down her body so she could zip herself out of it to be thin.  By age 7 her mother was “supergluing ” her ears back for dance recitals, telling her daughter that they “stuck out.”  Ultimately, she convinced Debra to have them surgically “pinned back.”  By 12, Debra had written a suicide note that her mother found and got angry over.  Just before starting high school her mother put her 15-year-old daughter on an extreme diet on which she lost 60 lbs and completed the makeover by taking her for a breast reduction.  The only messages Debra remembers getting from her mother regarding food were---“See how little you can eat,” “Food is bad and something you can’t control.”  Is it any wonder that she never felt good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or thin enough?

 

Through her young adulthood Debra’s weight skyrocketed and she sought treatment.  Her therapist suggested she “cut off” the relationship with her mother.  While staying in touch with her Dad, who she realized was uncomfortably in the middle, she stayed out of contact with her mother for a year.  Surprisingly, she lost weight.  Upon reconnecting with her mother however, she slowly regained. She had not yet found her voice.

 

Debra’s work with me has been about guiding her to find her voice and listen to it.  Today she knows what she feels and needs and expresses both without stuffing them down with food for fear of displeasing others. Her relationship with her husband had grown deeper emotionally.  She has learned to eat mindfully, listen to and trust her body’s physical needs and to be her authentic self.  As a part of loving, respecting and accepting herself and her body just as it is, she has bought new clothes, underwear, gym outfits that have enabled her to feel good about herself and comfortable while exercising.

 

As for her dream of becoming a nurse, it became clear to me early on that some of her past academic struggles might be related to undiagnosed ADD. Once tested and placed on the proper medication, her concentration and retention of information became easier and she is now excelling in Nursing School. 

 

As for Debra’s relationship with her parents, it was not my suggestion that she cut off her relationship with her mother though she chose to do so on her own until she felt her voice was strong enough.  But this time she brought her father into therapy and with her strong new voice told him, “I am angry that you never stood up for me against Mom.” Her father agreed and said he regretted not protecting her more.  Ten months later and 45 pounds lighter, Debra went home to test out her new voice with her mother, particularly adamant about having her mother see her in her current body, not after losing all of the weight she wanted.  This was truly a statement of self-acceptance.  With strength, clarity, and loving kindness, Debra heard the sound of her own voice and so did her mother.  The visit was followed by a card from Debra’s mom saying she loved seeing her and looked forward to their rebuilding a stronger, loving relationship.

 

Sometimes we need to disconnect from the old voice in order to come back together to hear the new one.

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction. She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer articles, here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

For the past few summers I’ve participated in a mini-triathlon in Peachtree City, Georgia.  My first one at age 45 was one of my proudest moments.  The event (400 meter swim, 14-mile bike ride and 5K run) is no IronMan, but it requires some training on my part.   


True Confessions: I’m not the most self-disciplined person regarding exercise.  Thanks to an active childhood I’ve been “fit enough” for much of my life, so losing weight has never been a big motivator.  (Interestingly while many folks exercise to lose weight, those who use this as their main motivation have difficulty sustaining these habits over the long haul.) My nod towards fitness generally consists of a daily mile-and-a-half dog-walk and an occasional dance class.


But a few years ago, with the onset of hot flashes and the impact of a sedentary job (sit for 50 minutes, hit restroom, sit for 50 minutes, repeat…) my body was starting to feel the effects of aging.  The time seemed ripe to push myself, especially given that my professional role often includes helping people who struggle with their weight. If I was to encourage others to step out of their comfort zone, I’d need to walk the walk (or run the run!)


A few years ago I encountered a unique group of fit women in their 30s and 40s. Interestingly, they all lived in the Lake Forrest Lane neighborhood of Chastain Park. This group supports the 2009 findings of Harvard Professor Nicholas Christakis who demonstrated that variables like weight and happiness were affected by social networks, e.g. overweight people tended to have overweight friends.


If you live on Lake Forrest Lane you’re probably going to end up fit!


So I felt honored to be informally invited into the LFL “club.” These gals set their alarms early. By 6:00 a.m. they are running around the park, returning in time to get their kids on the bus or get showered for work. Before joining this group, I never woke up that early except to catch a plane. All of a sudden, I was hopping (well, rolling) out of my warm bed and venturing into the cold darkness for a run. More often than not I’d catch them on their “cool down,” meaning they’d already run five miles before they met up with me.  


As excited as I was to be included, as a psychologist I was curious about what made these women so committed to exercise.  I noticed they did a number of things that experts suggest:


·      They mixed up their work-outs, running different routes, doing Saturday bike rides or meeting at the pool to swim laps. 


·      They signed up for events so that they were often in training, which gave them each concrete goals. 


·      They used their work-out time to meet their social needs, chatting about their lives, their marriages and their kids. 

·      They gave and got lots of support, loaning each other equipment, sharing training tips and being generous with positive feedback.


Over time I discovered a more subtle but probably even more critical variable. While I was unaware of their internal dialogue, I was certainly aware of mine. Listening to my brain was like being tugged on by a whiney toddler.  “I’m tired.  My legs hurt.  I’m thirsty. I’d rather be sleeping. When are we going to get to the top of this hill?  Are we almost there yet?  Waah waah waaaaaah…”      

 

In my profession I’m so accustomed to people sharing unfiltered thoughts, I forgot that the rest of the world doesn’t care to endure such negativity, especially at 6:30 a.m.   One gal started calling me “Debbie Downer.” But what stopped my complaining for good was Lucy (who adheres to a strict “no whining” policy) stating matter-of-factly, “If it’s not fun, Dina, then don’t do it.”


 Wow. Okay. Duh.  I guess I’d lost sight of the fact that this was supposed to be fun.

It hit me that while I’m adept at helping others challenge teir internal negative voices, I was quite over-indulgent with my own. I vowed to quit complaining, but it wasn’t just about muzzling Debbie Downer.  The key was getting her re-focused. I started consciously connecting to the positive aspects of early morning exercise, adopting a more mindful and accepting approach.


·      I focused on my breathing and my heartbeat and the rhythmic sounds of my feet on the pavement. 


·      I appreciated the stillness of the early morning as the world was waking up around me.


·      I experienced the rush of being in the presence of other women. 


·      I congratulated myself for working towards an important goal.


·      I encouraged myself up the hills and reminded myself of the downhill that followed.


·      I looked forward to the reward of a great breakfast, which was only a few minutes away. 


·      I reminded myself that getting out of the enveloping warmth of bed was harder than staying in it, and that instant gratification didn’t lead to the pride of accomplishment.


·      I knew that the run would afford me a more relaxed, productive, and happier day.


·      I felt pleased that I was one run closer to being in better shape.


·      I acknowledged with gratitude that I lived in a healthy body that was capable of running.


·      I thanked the Universe that I was simply alive.


Perhaps this was the key to the successful mindset of the ladies of Lake Forrest Lane.  I could see how this new way of thinking was actually sustainable, self-reinforcing and ultimately the route to a lifetime of fitness. 


So my third Peachtree City Tri is three weeks away.  This year I’m doing it with my 14-year old son. I enjoy training with him so I can pick his brain. The kid has no ambivalence about his athleticism and attacks physical challenges with gusto. How does he do it?


I’ll check back in my next column for a progress update…


Dina Zeckhausen is a nationally-known clinical psychologist and author who specializes in treating eating disorders and body image in both adults and adolescents. She is a weekly columnist for ShareWiK.com. You can visit her on the web at dinazeckhausen.com and MyEdin.org.

 

More Dina Zeckhausen articles, click here.

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

With increased work demands, people are expected to work longer hours and be more productive with fewer resources, sometimes without much verbal praise or monetary rewards.  Compound this with the inevitable stressors of home and personal life and you can find yourself swimming in a morass of anxiety and a feeling of being overwhelmed. 

 

Under the weight of the stress you decide to go for a routine check-up and your doctor tells you “Your PSA is elevated.”  You wonder, “What Do I Do Now?!”  And worse yet…

 

Does this mean I have prostate cancer???

 

When my client, Jim, a 50-year-old, married father of two young boys and a high-level executive in a Fortune 500 company, came in for his session, he clearly look frazzled.  Four months earlier he entered treatment to deal with the loss of his mother with whom he was very close. 

 

Being composed and compartmentalized, Jim talked a lot about how sad he was about his mother’s death and what she meant to him, but he never showed his sorrow.  So it came as quite a surprise when he walked in to my office shaken and teary blurting out, “I think I have prostate cancer.” 

 

As we talked he explained that he had seen his doctor for his annual physical and that his Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test came back elevated — it was a 4.0.  He was distraught and hadn’t been sleeping since.  His mind raced with thoughts of his own death, leaving his second wife a widow at 42 with two young sons to raise, how hard he worked to build up his career. And, for what? 

 

After asking questions about what the doctor said, exploring the “evidence” that he has cancer, and next possible steps, it was clear that Jim had shut down after hearing the doctor’s voice say that his PSA was elevated.  To him it was a pronouncement of doom.

 

First, we addressed the negative messages and beliefs he was telling himself — “My PSA level is elevated meaning I am going to die and leave behind my wife and sons.”  Recognizing that he didn’t have nearly enough information to make that statement, he reframed it by saying, “My PSA is elevated and it doesn’t necessarily mean disaster; there are many options and possibilities and I have to get more information and stay in the present moment.  Take it one step at a time.”

 

Knowing some about the topic, I began to educate him about the fact that as men age, it’s natural for their PSA levels to increase and that the Borderline range was 3-5 but that the test has limitations.  There are false positives where the level is elevated but no cancer is present. In addition, there are false negatives when the level is normal but cancer is actually present. 

 

Exploring further I pointed out that there is no family history of prostate cancer, another predictor of the likelihood of one getting prostate cancer. He was then able to remember the doctor telling him not to worry, that another test should be taken in four to six weeks since he never recommends a biopsy based on a single elevated test result. Jim looked visibly more relaxed.

 

Once the calmness had set in, he also remembered the doctor telling him that there are a number of other non-cancerous causes of an elevated PSA level.  Thinking more clearly, he realized that two of the causes applied in his case.  Being an avid bicyclist, his physician mentioned that a strenuous bike ride could increase the PSA level (he had taken a 40-mile ride the day before his appointment) as well as any recent ejaculation (he and his wife had made love the night before seeing the doctor).

 

We discussed the value of mindfulness practices since as he could see from our session, once he was able to approach this upsetting information from a calmer, centered place, he was more focused and could remember more of what the doctor said. Not only would the practice of mindfulness and relaxation techniques help him later to deal with the concerns around his PSA level, but it would also give him more tools to manage his work and daily life stresses.

 

Being more holistically minded as a therapist, I suggested to Jim that perhaps he could make some important meaning of this new medical information, that maybe it was an opportunity to take stock of his otherwise, harried life and think about his priorities.  He might want to examine how he was or wasn’t taking care of himself in his life, I added.  This could be the wake-up call he needed.

 

Since he knew that I have an expertise in food and weight-related issues, we began to discuss his diet.  There is research that shows that a diet high in fiber with many fruits and vegetables and low in animal products and dairy can lower the PSA level.  Also helpful is decreasing the intake of fatty foods and avoiding overeating.  Plus, foods like strawberries, tomatoes and garlic have powerful antioxidant qualities and can also decrease high PSA levels.

 

I suggested that he discuss with his doctor other natural alternatives like herbal supplements such as saw palmetto, known to reduce PSA, and green tea.  I could tell that by the end of the session, he was back in the driver’s seat of his life, no longer feeling like his life was coming to an end, but perhaps, a new beginning. 

 

We ended the session agreeing to do some mindfulness techniques that we would also record next time so he could practice them at home. With a little education, learning to reframe his negative thoughts into positive ones, and some mindfulness training, Jim had started to build a whole new set of tools to cope more effectively.

 

And just so you know, his PSA was normal the next time and has been ever since and this wake-up call changed his life.

 

Allyn St. Lifer has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years and specializes in teaching clients mindful eating to determine physical hunger and the point of satisfaction.  She is the founder and director of Slimworks, a mind/body, non-diet approach for managing weight and transforming one’s relationship with food, body and self.  To find out more about Allyn, please visit her website: www.slimworks.com.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read other Allyn St. Lifer columns here

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ShareWIK does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information, please read our Additional Information, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

home | sitemapfaq | columnists | members | discussions | groups | videos | press | advertise | contact us | estore | share your story | topics | calendar

Search ShareWIK

Loading

Facebook




Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Enter email below to receive our free eNewsletter
For Email Newsletters you can trust

Twitter

Latest Columns

The Grass Is Greener Right Here
With her trademark wisdom, humor and honesty, Diana Keough provides a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in increasingly fraught times.

Ben KaminSpirit Behind the News
Ben Kamin is one of America's best-known rabbis, a multi-cultural spiritualist, New York Times Op-ed contributor, national columnist, and the author of seven books on human values. His kids, however, are not that impressed.

I Kid You Not
With a self-deprecating sense of humor, a dash of Midwest sarcasm, and candid honesty, award-winning freelance writer Kristine muses on life in a chaotic household. Spoiler Alert: her teen, tweens and dog don’t find her even mildly amusing.

Susanne KatzSecond Life
After divorce, a death, a mid-life crisis, or just growing up and changing, baby boomers are learning to reinvent themselves, have fun and find satisfaction. Look out kids…it’s a new world out there!
Class Notes: Special Needs
Learn from the journey of Jacque Digieso who was given a challenge and a blessing with her son, who has special needs.

What's Eating You?
Dina Zeckhausen, Ph.D. on food, weight, body image and raising resilient kids.

Steve Powell
Steve is an experienced facilitator, practitioner, communicator and proven leader with over 25-years in experience in human factors education and teamwork training.
Living On Purpose
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, teaches how to make life extraordinary.
rWorld
Dale Kuehne explores developing a world where relationships come first, and recognizes that individual health and fulfillment is connected to the quality of our relationships.
Teacher Feature
School teacher Margaret Anderson will provide insight into what really happens with your child in the classroom.
The Power of Grief
Diane Snyder Cowan specializes in grief therapy to help those in need deal with loss.
Jan Jaben-Eilon Cancer is Not Me and I Am Not My Cancer
My name is Jan Jaben-Eilon and I am an ovarian cancer survivor. I don’t like the expression, battling with cancer. I am living my life as fully and passionately as possible, despite the cancer. Cancer is NOT my identity.

Latest Activity

posted a new blog entry Are You Up for the Job of Caregiver?.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry When does Sex End?.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Obesity brings on a variety of health issues.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Getting the marriage license.
4 years ago
posted a new blog entry Praying for Theo.
4 years ago