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Nov 23


There is nothing special about me. I am a middle-aged, Mid-western gal who accomplished an extraordinary feat through patience and perseverance: I lost 185 pounds by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly.  


Before I began my journey, I was defined by my addiction to food.  When you weigh 340 pounds it’s hard to deny food isn’t a problem. I had let eating become too important for me—a comfort for bad days, bad jobs and lonely nights. My weight was defining my lot in life and I couldn’t ignore the words “morbidly obese.” I was well aware that being overweight led to a litany of health problems that could put me in an early grave—-heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, gall bladder disease and several forms of cancer.  


I knew that.  Weight loss options I tried didn’t have lasting results nor did the flimsy solutions hawked by the circus of snake-oil salesman.  That didn’t stop me from trying most of them.  With every passing year I was gaining more and more weight.  I knew I didn’t want take a permanent dirt nap in a piano box.  I had to do something. 


So I did: I put down my fork and started moving my butt. 


In this weekly column, I want to share how I learned to live with food and stopped letting it control and run my life. We’ll talk about how to clean out your pantry and become a smarter shopper.  We’ll also discuss different types of exercise and how to cook healthy food, as well as smart dieting tips that will help you tackle those extra pounds.  


And I’ll be sprinkling in many dashes of humor.  Laughing doesn’t involve calories, so why not? 


I’m writing this for you.  Only a third of Americans are currently at a normal weight and the number of overweight Americans is expected to grow within a few years. 


Discouraged? Don’t be.


It can be done.  I did it.  I won’t be writing about a quick fix—but then again, when do quick fixes work? 


Ok, I will step off of my 185-pound soapbox.  But the reality is that our national addiction to food needs to be addressed before the crisis becomes as widespread as my former backside. 


And that’s just what I’m going to do. 


I hope you’ll join me, tell me your weight concerns and you’ll share with everyone tips you’ve tried that have been successful.  I hope you’ll be part of the discussion as we all put down our forks and start moving our butts. 


I look forward to hearing from you!  

 

Other articles by Lisa Griffis: "D-I-E-T" Is A Four Letter Word, The Moment of Truth, Weight Loss: 6 Tips To Keep The Weight Off, A Dieter's Juggling Act, DNF, Did Not Finish, Life in Moderation 

 

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


More Lisa Griffis articles, click here.

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© ShareWIK Media Group, LLC.

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.


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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

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© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009 


Can’t kick the four-soda-a-day habit? Worried about your risk of diabetes or obesity?  


Continuing scientific evidence demonstrates that you may need to curb regular soda intake if you want to stay healthy.  Regular soda – not the sugar-free kind - is a non-nutritive, calorie-dense product sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.  Excessive fructose intake can increase your chance of developing the metabolic syndrome.  This syndrome increases your risk of developing heart disease (a leading cause of death in women) and Type 2 diabetes which can cause stroke, kidney failure, and blindness. As a society, we're increasingly fighting the battle of the bulge, so cutting back your intake of any food or drink high in fructose is a good way to start. 


Recent data shows that taking in fructose can cause your blood pressure and insulin levels to rise as well as unfavorably alter your lipids (think higher triglycerides and lower HDL cholesterol).  In addition, consuming too many sugary drinks such as soda can lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is a chemical that helps your brain tell your body that is is full and satisfied. Developing a resistance to leptin can increase your sugar craving causing you to consume more sugar….and increasing your risk for all the health problems listed above.

 

The solution: just switch out that soda for plain water, and you can improve your health today.


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

 


For more Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati 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.

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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.

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May 09

I was tired of looking the way I did. I was carrying 340 pounds on my 5’2” frame. 

 

According to the body mass index, I would have to grow three-feet to justify all the extra weight I was hauling around.

 

I wanted to be “normal-sized” for the first time in my life. 

 

One of the first things I learned is that the average person faced over 200 food choices a day. That wasn’t a surprise to me. My obesity was a tribute to the fact I had made millions of crappy food decisions over the years.

 

If you were trying to lose weight, it would be a simple choice to make. But for me, who was trying to find comfort from my stressful day, it wasn’t simple. 

 

So, I began putting healthy things in my lunch box like spinach salads with grilled chicken or hummus with cherry tomatoes, or a container of my wickedly hot turkey chili. 

 

I started to really love the way the good food made me feel, less sluggish and ready to take on what the world had in store for me.

 

After several months, the simple steps of eating better and walking were making a small dent in my mountain of extra weight. I had lost around 25 pounds in the first three months. Gone were the four fat-laden food groups from my childhood like butter, chips, ice cream and chocolate. I was becoming more aware of a balanced-food world. Hello! Baked chicken in the correct portion size with a small salad and dressing on the side. I began to take to heart what the books were telling me about proper portion size. 

 

I even bought a food scale and began to use it on a daily basis. I would measure the chicken to make sure that I learned what a proper portion should be. 

 

 

The Land-Of-Plenty had skewed my vision to what was a normal portion. Super-sizing was a way of life for me but had to change along with what I was putting on my plate. I took a week and ate nothing but Lean Cuisines to teach myself what a 300-calorie meal meant. I learned to drink water to fill the void of being hungry and to chew sugarless gum to take my mind off of my growling stomach. 

 

A TV news story about how shopping the perimeters of the grocery store—where the fresh food and produce are normally sold—was a good way to fight the temptation to buy unhealthy food. That seemed like a good game plan to me. 

 

“The middle aisles are just bad for your mid-section,” became my new motto. The only problem with this theory was a store’s bakery is normally located on the outer rim. To fight the temptation of the “Cookie Monster,” I learned to employ the bakery dash: every time I would smell bread baking I would speed up my pace and look away from what was in the display cases. I reasoned if it doesn’t go into my cart it wouldn’t end up on my hips. 

 

By reading food labels, I learned where I had been making some of my worst food decisions, like products with too much salt and hidden fats, all foods that could sabotage my diet. 

 

I grew up watching the television program, “The Beverly Hillbillies.” I learned from Jethro, the oldest son of the Clampett’s that I should use the largest bowl in the kitchen to eat my cereal every morning. One box would last me only a few days. After I started reading labels, I learned that cereal boxes contained more than two weeks worth of full breakfast bowls in one box. Who knew? 

 

I then began to realize that if I couldn’t eat the right portion of a certain food, it was time to rid my pantry of that item. 

 

Eliminating some food choices was a good thing for me. Out went jars of peanut butter, Life breakfast cereal, Cheetos and mint-chip ice cream—all things I could never seem to eat the correct portions of to maintain my proper calorie intake. 

 

Instead, I began setting time aside each week to chop, cook and portion out my vegetable rich meals with small portions of protein. I had to make food that was convenient for my busy weeks. 

 

Still there were moments when I was stressed out or just plain hungry that I would raid the refrigerator or pantry for a treat. I had learned what a proper portion was but when these moments of weakness hit, a box of cookies disappeared in one sitting. 

 

So I added another rule: if it’s not in the house, you aren’t going to be tempted. So I cleaned out my food pantry and refrigerator, eliminating every item—not just some—I knew were not part of my healthy eating program. 

 

No more kidding myself I had the self-control to resist.

 

Tips to follow for the new you: 

 

Tip 1: Make a grocery list and stick to it. Plan out your meals and snacks. 

 

Tip 2: Read food labels. Take the time to realize what is in the food you are eating and make wise choices at the market. 

 

Tip 3: Buy organic produce and products. 

 

Tip 4: Prepare foods yourself. You can control what goes into everything you make. No hidden ingredients or fats.

 

Tip 5: Learn to taste and enjoy your food. You are eating less but that doesn’t mean you have to diminish the pleasure. 

 

Tip 6: Pack your lunch; it is less tempting to go off your plan. 

 

Tip 7: Find a few low calorie treats that you enjoy, like sugar-free gum and Jell-O. They have fewer calories and can help you overcome the feeling that you need to eat something sweet. 

 

Tip 8: Introduce a new vegetable or fruit into your repertory. Since most of your diet should consist of these items, mix it up to make it more interesting. 

 

Tip 9: Learn portion control. Vegetables should be about half of your meal with protein and starches equally filling in the rest of your plate. 

 

Tip 10: We all need our treats. But start to purchase them one at a time. Buy the single candy bar or buy a single cookie and then savor it. Eat it slowly, enjoying each bite. 

 

Tip 11: Pinpoint your weaknesses and start to overcome them, be it time of day, stress triggers or love of chocolate and ask yourself if it is really worth the extra calories. 

 

Tip 12: Catch yourself when you are overeating. Acknowledge it and learn from it and then put the fork down.

 



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 2009

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

 


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 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

 

 

 

 

It’s election season - your chance to stand up and be counted. The primaries have come and gone, and now it is your turn to stick to your platform of living a healthy life.  You, too, have an opportunity to shape the views of those around you….You, too, have an opportunity to be an example.  Seize this moment for yourself and for those around you.

 

Did you know, for example, that you don't need to bring in sweet treats for your child's birthday at school?  You may know just what I am talking about: those large cupcakes from your local big box store that are more frosting than cake. Does your little 40-pound child and her classmates need that much sugar?  

 

I don't think so.  

 

Ideally, one should strive for no more than 4 grams of sugar per serving.  Many “foods” that are appealing to children far exceed this recommendation - it is not uncommon to see serving sizes with 27 grams of sugar! Think about that!  Now how is your child's body supposed to process that much sugar in a healthy way? They can’t - It's too hard.  

 

Serving your children foods high in sugar over the course of their childhood increases their risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes or other obesity-related chronic conditions.  


But you can do something about it. You can take a stand today and teach your children that celebrations don’t always have to include eating foods high in sugar. Instead of sending your child to school with sweet treats for birthdays, consider substituting small, non-food treats instead. Kids love them. Think stickers, pencils, or small toys.  It doesn’t have to be expensive – trinkets from a local discount or dollar store will do just fine.

 

So go for it - take a stand this election season, and be healthy!

 

Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati is the mother of three children and founding medical director of The Cleveland Clinic's LifeStyle 180 program.  She is a regular columnist for ShareWIK.com

 

More Dr. Elizabeth Ricanati articles, click here.

 

 ©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010

When we notice that some aspect of our life is truly out of control, we are likely to have one of three responses: we can take back the reins, we can stay the course (with some degree of denial), or we can surrender to the inevitable.


Most of us want to believe we’d take control. I suspect many of us fear – like me – that we’d surrender all too quickly. (One of my greatest fears, actually, is that I’m basically a chicken at heart.) In truth, the most common response is to stay the course, often with a healthy dose of denial.


I have seen true bravery in my life. I’ve watched my child withstand outrageous medical procedures with hardly a word or a tear (from her – I’ve cried plenty). I saw my spouse dive into a murky river to rescue a drunk stranger he saw disappear beneath the surface. And I’ve witnessed loved ones make the drastic decision to take back the reins of their lives and undergo gastric bypass surgery.


The thing about many people who struggle with obesity – whatever the cause, and there are many – is that their relationship with food, or depression, or something fiendish – has gotten out of control. Smart, funny, creative souls find themselves hiding behind padded rooms of their own making, of their own flesh.


The considerations surrounding gastric bypass surgery are incredibly complex. I see the final decision as incredibly brave. Think about it. Pulling yourself up and onto firm ground when you’ve already toppled over an edge can be a helluva lot harder than breaking before you go over the edge in the first place.


Living with obesity can build boundaries that limit the opportunity for full expression of life. Choosing surgery is a bold move:  by doing so, people take the reins firmly in their grasp and reclaim the ability to steer their lives in a direction of their choosing. 


The risks of gastric bypass are extensive. While any surgery is dangerous, this one is particularly complex because it presents a sort of Catch-22. The long-term success of gastric bypass depends on behavioral changes. That would be hard enough in the best of circumstances, but when those behaviors have been part of the very challenge that created the problem in the first place, then the risks are compounded.


To commit to gastric bypass people must commit to doing what they’ve previously had trouble demonstrating a consistent ability to do: use extreme self-discipline in their relationship with food and eating, and in their relationship with themselves.


A dear cousin of mine elected to have this surgery. He was inspired, in part, by the birth of a grandchild. New life reminded him that he could actually determine his own life.  After decades of staying the course, he opted to initiate dramatic change.


It took some getting used to, actually, to see the features of his face after the surgery. I couldn’t get over how much he had grown to look like his father. Being with him after the surgery was an inspiration. His life had a renewed sense of purpose.


What strikes me is that he took back the reins of his life when he had a strong enough motivation to do so. He came to the recognition that, to be fully present for his loved ones, he had to do something to help himself. And it was not a little something (no pun intended).


Classic lesson, isn’t it? Sure enough, you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself. But I think it’s actually a two-part lesson. To take care of yourself, to hold the reins tight, it helps to figure out what motivates you. What’s important enough to get you to slam on the breaks, or climb back over the edge, if the need arises?


Wherever you are when facing a situation seemingly out of control – in charge of the reins, on auto-pilot or hands up in surrender – these two lessons are a guide on the path to recovery:


            • self-care is a gift to those you love, and

            • figuring out what motivates you is a powerful agent for change


It’s no coincidence, of course, that heeding these lessons can help prevent you from getting to the edge in the first place.

 

Elaine Taylor-Klaus is a Life, Leadership and Parenting Coach and the founder of Touchstone Coaching and ImpactADHD™. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

Read more articles by Elaine Taylor-Klaus here.

 

 ©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

Oct 10

The Greatest Generation was set up to have eating disorders, and to then have children and grandchildren with eating disorders, is my theory. This not grounded in science. It is grounded in what I’ve seen at home and out in the world. And this isn’t about judgment. God knows there is enough of that in the world. It is simply about observation with regard to my own family, the size of people, the size and nutritional facts of meals out, and the size of the problem we, as a nation, are facing if we don’t get a grip on eating disorders one person, one family, at a time.  

 

Children of the Great Depression I knew – my dad, mom, stepdad, an aunt and uncle, a few older friends from that era – grew up hungry and afraid there wouldn’t be enough. Their mothers were afraid of not having enough food for their hardworking husbands and children. My father’s mother scraped and saved a penny here, a nickel there; a bite of fatback here, a cup of flour for gravy there.

 

She would mix the white flour, lard, sugar, and home-grown fruits for pies and sugary preserves. Her family would feast on these foods that we now know have a high glycemic index, meaning that the carbohydrates in them would break down quickly, flooding the bloodstream with sugars and setting up a spike in blood sugar, a surge in insulin, and then a drop in blood sugar that creates a tremendous craving sensation for more and more food. It is was a vicious cycle then, but the good news was that then, back in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, people were required to be more physical. At least my family was. For my dad there were farm chores to do. Those chores, plus walking to school and other places, burned calories. That helped to balance the blood sugar and kept his weight low until he returned home from World War II. I don’t know what kind of shape he was in then, physically. Emotionally, though, I have heard he was devastated by what he had seen. And glad to be home in one piece. And glad to have his mother’s cooking. He had been missing the sweetness in life. Now it was back in front of him.

 

Her gallons of sweet tea, made with cup after cup of sugar that mounded at the bottom of a clear glass pitcher and turned into a glucose tolerance test when the hot tea was poured over it, must have tasted wonderful to him after two years of Navy food. He would love that tea for another three decades as again and again its plentiful sugar and caffeine fueled a surge of energy and another drop in blood sugar, another round of cravings, another round of overeating.

 

Even though the Depression and WWII were decades behind them, the cooking and eating habits from the 20s and 30s drove our family's need for a table full of the foods to which he was addicted: biscuits and gravy made with white flour, lard, milk, sausage drippings. It was hot and tasty and came from loving hands that wanted to make sure there was never any more hunger in that house.

 

On many, many levels, food represented love. The food brought on a kind of stupor – a food coma of sorts – that would require coffee and Coca-Cola in the afternoon. For my dad, the Coca-Cola often had several shots of bourbon along with it. The combination over the years led to his adult-onset diabetes. His body was so damaged by the wildly changing blood sugar levels that he required several injections of insulin a day. On top of that, his vision kept changing. An eyeglass prescription never lasted more than a few months before it would stop working. The damage to his vision due to high blood sugar started stealing his sight when he was in his early 40s.

 

Food and liquor were ultimate comforts; ultimate killers. In his mid-50s, he quit drinking for three months. The doctor told him that if he ever started back again it would kill him. He started back the day before Thanksgiving, 1981, and was dead within 24 hours. The change in his body chemistry was just too much; it was too toxic. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage just three weeks short of his 57th birthday.

 

Food was an addiction. Alcohol was an addiction. Irregular schedules, some unhealthy relationships, lots of worry and intensity around money; it all caught up with him and his brain – the seat of his soul, the home of his brilliant but troubled mind, the keeper of his painful secrets – could not process the additional poison.

 

That was thirty-one years ago next month. Since then, we’ve all learned so much more about nutrition, and what’s healthy. Why we need to eat to live instead of living to eat. And yet so many people I know are plagued by the destructive consequences of food as comfort instead of food as fuel.

 

That big business has a hand in keeping people addicted to food is another story, and one I will write about soon. What is sad to me is that most of us have access to healthy food and access to help in the form of Overeaters Anonymous or any one of a number of free support groups to help us understand what happens when food becomes a Higher Power. Yet most of us don't take advantage of that help. 


I don’t think the Greatest Generation fought so hard for us to be able to have freedom of choice, and then choose to kill ourselves with food.


 

Quick facts from the Centers for Disease Control:

Obesity is common, serious and costly http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html#Socioeconomic

·       More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese. [Read data brief  [PDF-528Kb]]

·       Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. [Read guidelines]

·       In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read summary]


Carey Sipp's first book, The TurnAround Mom – How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Toxic Cycle for Her Family, and How You Can, Too, guides fellow “children of chaos” to create the kind of sane and loving home life that helps prevent next-generation addiction and abuse. Her book is available here.


Read more articles by Carey Sipp here.


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

When we notice that some aspect of our life is truly out of control, we are likely to have one of three responses: we can take back the reins, we can stay the course (with some degree of denial), or we can surrender to the inevitable.


Most of us want to believe we’d take control. I suspect many of us fear – like me – that we’d surrender all too quickly. (One of my greatest fears, actually, is that I’m basically a chicken at heart.) In truth, the most common response is to stay the course, often with a healthy dose of denial.


I have seen true bravery in my life. I’ve watched my child withstand outrageous medical procedures with hardly a word or a tear (from her – I’ve cried plenty). I saw my spouse dive into a murky river to rescue a drunk stranger he saw disappear beneath the surface. And I’ve witnessed loved ones make the drastic decision to take back the reins of their lives and undergo gastric bypass surgery.


The thing about many people who struggle with obesity – whatever the cause, and there are many – is that their relationship with food, or depression, or something fiendish has gotten out of control. Smart, funny, creative souls find themselves hiding behind padded rooms of their own making, of their own flesh. 


The considerations surrounding gastric bypass surgery are incredibly complex. I see the final decision as incredibly brave. Think about it. Pulling yourself up and onto firm ground when you’ve already toppled over an edge can be a helluva lot harder than breaking before you go over the edge in the first place. 


Living with obesity can build boundaries that limit the opportunity for full expression of life. Choosing surgery is a bold move:  by doing so, people take the reins firmly in their grasp and reclaim the ability to steer their lives in a direction of their choosing.  


The risks of gastric bypass are extensive. While any surgery is dangerous, this one is particularly complex because it presents a sort of Catch 22. The long-term success of gastric bypass depends on behavioral changes. That would be hard enough in the best of circumstances, but when those behaviors have been part of the very challenge that created the problem in the first place, then the risks are compounded.


To commit to gastric bypass people must commit to doing what they’ve previously had trouble demonstrating a consistent ability to do: use extreme self-discipline in their relationship with food and eating, and in their relationship with themselves.


A dear cousin of mine elected to have this surgery. He was inspired, in part, by the birth of a grandchild. New life reminded him that he could actually determine his own life.  After decades of staying the course, he opted to initiate dramatic change.


It took some getting used to, actually, to see the features of his face after the surgery. I couldn’t get over how much he had grown to look like his father. Being with him after the surgery was an inspiration. His life had a renewed sense of purpose.


What strikes me is that he took back the reins of his life when he had a strong enough motivation to do so. He came to the recognition that, to be fully present for his loved ones, he had to do something to help himself. And it was not a little something (no pun intended). 


Classic lesson, isn’t it? Sure enough, you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself. But I think it’s actually a two-part lesson. To take care of yourself, to hold the reins tight, it helps to figure out what motivates you. What’s important enough to get you to slam on the breaks, or climb back over the edge, if the need arises? 


Wherever you are when facing a situation seemingly out of control – in charge of the reins, on auto-pilot or hands up in surrender – these two lessons are a guide on the path to recovery: 


• self-care is a gift to those you love, and 

• figuring out what motivates you is a powerful agent for change


It’s no coincidence, of course, that heeding these lessons can help prevent you from getting to the edge in the first place.


Elaine Taylor-Klaus coaches parents from around the country, on the telephone, to confidently help their families thrive. She is the co-founder of ImpactADHD.com, a free resource for parents, and works together with her husband, David Taylor-Klaus, in their company, Touchstone Coaching. Elaine is a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com and ImpactADHD.com, and writes for “Living Without” and "Womenetics.com" magazines. Follow her on Twitter@TouchstoneCoach and @ImpactADHD.


Read more columns by Elaine Taylor-Klaus here


©2013 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Mar 12

My brother avoided the draft by gaining weight. This was in the 1960s. He was, and is, a pacifist. Not officially a conscientious objector, but he certainly did not want to go and fight in Vietnam. Somehow, he learned what the weight limit was for his height and gained the necessary pounds so that the Army would reject him.


This could not have been very difficult. Those were the days when he would make himself a dozen scrambled eggs to eat at one sitting. A time when he and his buddies would go to Dunkin’ Donuts and ask for one of each.


My favorite story was when he went to have dinner with a friend’s family. His friend’s mother passed to him the pot roast and he ate it all, not realizing that it was supposed to feed the whole family. Not surprisingly, in those days my mother put a lock on the refrigerator out in the garage. She did not want him to eat in the afternoon what she had prepared for the family’s dinner.


Unfortunately, Bruce never lost his love for food as he matured. Nor did he lose his excess weight. When he married a beautiful Russian woman who loved to cook like he did, it only made matters worse. Together they watch the Food Channel lying down in bed.


I am not sure what he weighs now, probably more than 300 pounds. But I do know that the excess weight is endangering his life.


The Centers for Disease Control define overweight as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. Okay, my brother is obese. This puts him at risk for diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, cancer, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea, among other scary-sounding diseases.


My brother knows he has sleep apnea, for which he uses a breathing machine at night, and hypertension, for which he takes blood pressure medication. He also knows that his body aches all the time. Muscular issues have kept him from exercising for many years, which, of course, only worsens his obesity.


Because of all his aches and pains, which he knows can mostly be attributed to his weight, he doesn’t go to a doctor very often. What’s the point? he asks. The doctor will tell him he should lose weight. And he has tried. He subscribed, at least for awhile, to one of the diets that are hawked on television. He bought a treadmill, which sits unused in his living room.


But there are other hidden dangers that the doctors and websites don’t talk about. Because he just suffers his aches and pains without getting diagnoses and treatment, problems can escalate. Recently he was taken to the emergency room in the middle of the night because the pain became too much to bear.


It turned out that he had a large kidney stone, which the doctors couldn’t, at first, remove because an infection had developed all around it. So, for about five days, he was in intensive care, on a ventilator and heavy antibiotics and extra liquids. His body puffed up even more. His wife took a photo, which she plans to show him after he is better, to scare him into taking care of himself.


Perhaps the whole experience – he’s still in the hospital as I write this – will frighten him to finally start a real diet and some light exercise.


I can’t say I’m very optimistic. According to physicians, obesity can also cause psychological effects including depression and self-esteem issues. Bruce has both, which means he doesn’t feel very motivated to change his behaviors. Turning 65 recently doesn’t help him.


What he doesn’t understand is that today’s 65 is the last generation’s 45. He’s not that old. He has time to change his eating habits and exercise more, and finally lose all that excess weight. But will he? I don’t know.



Jan Jaben-Eilon is a long-time journalist who has written for The New York Times, Business Week, the International Herald Tribune, the Jerusalem Report and Womenetics. She was a founding reporter for the Atlanta Business Chronicle and was international editor for Advertising Age before she fulfilled a lifelong dream of moving to Israel. Jan and her Jerusalem-born husband have an apartment in that city, but live in Atlanta.

 

In November 2006, she was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer and has kept a blog on her cancer journey since December of that year. 


Read more columns by Jan Jaben Eilon here

©2013 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.

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