Myth #4 – All “Bad” Foods Are Off Limits

To go along with yesterday’s myth buster, I wanted to just let you know that you are human and sometimes you are going to want to indulge in your favorite bad-for-you foods. Unless you have some crazy love for broccoli or a special hidden talent, I don’t know anyone who can resist pizza for the rest of their lives. Still though, so many people think that the way to lose weight is to cut back on everything pleasurable. But, do you think that you could really give up cheesecake and ice cream for good? Most likely not. You’ll eventually start picking at that luscious piece of cheesecake and before you know it will have devoured a third of it (at least). This kind of flip-flopping between all or nothing, better known as yo-yo dieting, activates your stress system, making you want to scarf down even more. Which is why you can’t seem to drop the weight, even though you’ve been so “good”.

Taking off weight and leaving it in the dust for good depends on learning how to live a BALANCED lifestyle, which includes the occasional piece of birthday cake. Follow my 80/20 rule. If you eat well 80% of the time, then you can indulge the other 20% guilt-free. Yay cake!

Myth #4 – All "Bad" Foods Are Off Limits

To go along with yesterday’s myth buster, I wanted to just let you know that you are human and sometimes you are going to want to indulge in your favorite bad-for-you foods. Unless you have some crazy love for broccoli or a special hidden talent, I don’t know anyone who can resist pizza for the rest of their lives. Still though, so many people think that the way to lose weight is to cut back on everything pleasurable. But, do you think that you could really give up cheesecake and ice cream for good? Most likely not. You’ll eventually start picking at that luscious piece of cheesecake and before you know it will have devoured a third of it (at least). This kind of flip-flopping between all or nothing, better known as yo-yo dieting, activates your stress system, making you want to scarf down even more. Which is why you can’t seem to drop the weight, even though you’ve been so “good”.

Taking off weight and leaving it in the dust for good depends on learning how to live a BALANCED lifestyle, which includes the occasional piece of birthday cake. Follow my 80/20 rule. If you eat well 80% of the time, then you can indulge the other 20% guilt-free. Yay cake!

Myth #3 – I’ve Been Good All Week, So I Can Splurge All Weekend

I’m sure this thought has popped into your head. “I’ve stayed on track all week, eating well and exercising, so are 4 cocktails, some pancakes for brunch, and pizza really going to do me any harm? I deserve them.” The sad truth is yes, all that is going to harm your waistline. Think about it, Saturday and Sunday make up for 30% of the week and most likely you’re getting started with happy hour on Friday afternoon. Many people lose weight during the week, but then put it all back on over the weekend.

You have to be consistent. It’s ok to treat yourself to a slice of pizza, you’ve definitely worked for it, but leave it at that. Any more than that slice – unless you’re running 10 miles that weekend – will only slowly pile on the pounds and won’t help you with any consistent and permanent changes you’re trying to make. Being good during the week, but holding your breath to party over the weekend will only set you back, so make sure you’re being reasonable.

Check out these weekend survival tips:

* JOT IT DOWN – Writing down what you eat will make you more aware of what you’re putting into your mouth and will help you second-guess that second slice.

* REMEMBER YOUR WHEATIES – Skipping breakfast is a surefire way to binge later, so make sure you eat within an hour of getting up.

* SATISFY YOUR CRAVING – It’s ok to give into a nagging craving once in a while when it really won’t let up. Be reasonable about it and make sure you really want it and that another culprit isn’t to blame, like stress. You probably won’t feel the need to let all hell break loose on the weekends if you don’t build it up so much.

Myth #3 – I've Been Good All Week, So I Can Splurge All Weekend

I’m sure this thought has popped into your head. “I’ve stayed on track all week, eating well and exercising, so are 4 cocktails, some pancakes for brunch, and pizza really going to do me any harm? I deserve them.” The sad truth is yes, all that is going to harm your waistline. Think about it, Saturday and Sunday make up for 30% of the week and most likely you’re getting started with happy hour on Friday afternoon. Many people lose weight during the week, but then put it all back on over the weekend.

You have to be consistent. It’s ok to treat yourself to a slice of pizza, you’ve definitely worked for it, but leave it at that. Any more than that slice – unless you’re running 10 miles that weekend – will only slowly pile on the pounds and won’t help you with any consistent and permanent changes you’re trying to make. Being good during the week, but holding your breath to party over the weekend will only set you back, so make sure you’re being reasonable.

Check out these weekend survival tips:

* JOT IT DOWN – Writing down what you eat will make you more aware of what you’re putting into your mouth and will help you second-guess that second slice.

* REMEMBER YOUR WHEATIES – Skipping breakfast is a surefire way to binge later, so make sure you eat within an hour of getting up.

* SATISFY YOUR CRAVING – It’s ok to give into a nagging craving once in a while when it really won’t let up. Be reasonable about it and make sure you really want it and that another culprit isn’t to blame, like stress. You probably won’t feel the need to let all hell break loose on the weekends if you don’t build it up so much.

Myth #2 – Low-Fat Food Are Healthy

When I was in 7th and 8th grade I went through a huge Snackwells phase. Remember those? I wanted to lose weight and thought that it was so awesome that a company made “good for you” cookies, cakes, and cracker. I could eat an entire box in one day. And when Entenmenn’s came out with their low-fat danish, I polished that baby right off. Oh, and NutriGrain bars, with their yummy fruit filling, gotta love those!

Low-fat foods may seem like the best option, but that’s not always true. Many of these foods contain lots of added sugars to make up for the loss of flavor, which means that lots of times these foods contain almost the same amount of calories (take a look at reduced fat peanut butter). Too much sugar forces your body to store it as fat, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to do by eating these foods. You’re trying to look leaner not lumpier, right? Shockingly, even though they are lower in fat, these foods can still contain unhealthy saturated fats. And like myself, once upon a time, most people who eat these foods eat double the amount thinking that it’s “safe”, because after all, it’s low-fat, right?… Nope!

Make sure to read food labels and pay attention to serving sizes, calories, and added sugars. Not all low-fat foods are entirely bad for you, but you have to see what these foods are really made of. And you may even find that sometimes it’s worth having the full-fat version, because you will be more satisfied. Just make sure to stick to one portion!

Myth #1- Lifting Lighter Weights With More Reps Is The Way To Get Toned

For the rest of the week I’m going to be debunking a few myths that we all have about weight loss.

Myth #1: Lifting lighter weights with more reps is the way to get toned

You may work out this way, because you read it in a magazine or heard one of your friends talking about it (because she read it in a magazine). And you probably think that if you lift heavier weights your muscles will get too bulky. In actuality though, it’s genetically impossible for a woman to bulk up like a man, unless you are on an extremely rigorous training program that includes eating a very high calorie diet, with specific ratios of protein to carbs, and most of the time steroids. In order to get toned, you will need more muscle and less fat, and to get your body to that point you will need to challenge yourself to lift heavier. A study at Georgia Southern University found that lifting 85% of your maximum ability for 8 reps actually burns about twice as many calories in the 2 hours post workout compared with 15 reps at 45% max.

Suggestion – Your body will benefit from high repetition periods, to build endurance, as well as lower repetition periods to build muscle and burn fat. Do lower weights and higher reps (about 12-15) for about 4 weeks and then switch to lifting heavier weights and lower reps (about 8-10) for the next 4 weeks. You will know it’s heavy enough if you’re struggling to squeeze out the last few reps. Your body needs to be challenged, so keep toggling back and forth every 4 weeks to vary the challenge.

M.’s Story

A rainy Monday (at least it is here in NYC) makes it that much harder to start the week, so in an effort to get you all moving at your best I’m going to tell you a story about my client M.

M. is 64 years young and works out with me 5 days a week. Being one of 16 children has made her a huge giver and caretaker of anyone who needs help. Her favorite color for now is purple and she’s a real fire cracker. She’s always telling me amazing stories about how she used to party all night long, how she once told her boss off, but still managed to keep her job, or how she could climb and swing herself around a telephone pole better than any stripper you’ve ever seen. Her hair is styled in an adorable pixie cut, which is just perfect for her, but she wouldn’t agree with me on that one, because before the chemo she said it was much thicker. M. is a more than a fire cracker, she is a fighter, surviving a traumatic experience with breast cancer, which left her without a breast, never-ending pain in her legs, and anxiety and depression that many times wouldn’t allow her to sleep. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that her father drowned when she was 7, she lost a brother in 9/11 and then another one that same year. Then, on September 11th, 2007, after having a fabulous pregnancy, her daughter gave birth to a boy with Cerebral Palsy. So, to say the least M. is one of the strongest people I know.

I met M. almost 2 years ago when she came into the gym where I worked. What I remember from those first few months is that M. was just a shadow of who she is now. We had plans to work out twice a week, which we did some of the time, but most of the time there were cancellations, because she was too tired to come in. Too many thoughts reeling through her mind created an unescapable anxiety that kept her up at night. When we did work out together though I could tell that her mind was somewhere else. She couldn’t remember things that I just showed her and I would have to constantly repeat myself. Yet, she never once got too frustrated and never once gave up. Persistence really paid off, because little by little I would catch a glimpse of the person hiding behind all that heaviness inside of her. 2 times a week became 3 times a week and one day she came into me and said, “Dani, if I’m going to do this I better stop half-assing it. I think I’m going to come in to see you 5 days a week”.

And that is when everything changed. She put her foot down and decided that she wasn’t going to live like this anymore. Every day she was going to get dressed, get out of the house, and make sure that she took care of herself. She realized that none of her feelings were going to go away on their own and that she would have to do something about it if she was ever going to feel better.

That was a year and a half ago. Almost nothing keeps her from a session anymore. Not even the food poisoning that she had last Thursday. Seriously, she had food poisoning all night on Thursday and showed up at my door on Friday morning, with absolutely no sleep or food in her stomach. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.

At 10am this morning, M. came in with a fabulous green raincoat on, a chic purple purse, and her make-up just perfect. But the thing that stood out the most was her smile. For the entire 60 minutes of our workout she had me laughing, she never complained, never once said she couldn’t do something, and mentioned that she slept through the entire night last night in her bed. If you ask her why she works out now, the weight she wants to take off is secondary. The real reason is because of how good she feels. She works out because there was a time when she couldn’t and she never ever wants to be back there again. She has strength not just in her body, but in her conviction to do this every day. If you ask her now if she likes working out, the answer will most likely be no. But does she like the results, hell yes, you bet ya!

Every single time I see M. I’m inspired. She is what it means to conquer yourself. When I’m having difficulty mustering up the energy to work out I think of her. My being tired or not in the mood is nothing compared to what she’s overcome. Not even my soreness should hold me back. So, I tell you this story, because if you’re not feeling up to it, if you’re feeling weak, if you have hang- ups that keep you from walking into the gym, or if you ever say “I can’t”, remember M., because oh yes you can! Find a way and conquer yourself.

M.'s Story

A rainy Monday (at least it is here in NYC) makes it that much harder to start the week, so in an effort to get you all moving at your best I’m going to tell you a story about my client M.

M. is 64 years young and works out with me 5 days a week. Being one of 16 children has made her a huge giver and caretaker of anyone who needs help. Her favorite color for now is purple and she’s a real fire cracker. She’s always telling me amazing stories about how she used to party all night long, how she once told her boss off, but still managed to keep her job, or how she could climb and swing herself around a telephone pole better than any stripper you’ve ever seen. Her hair is styled in an adorable pixie cut, which is just perfect for her, but she wouldn’t agree with me on that one, because before the chemo she said it was much thicker. M. is a more than a fire cracker, she is a fighter, surviving a traumatic experience with breast cancer, which left her without a breast, never-ending pain in her legs, and anxiety and depression that many times wouldn’t allow her to sleep. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that her father drowned when she was 7, she lost a brother in 9/11 and then another one that same year. Then, on September 11th, 2007, after having a fabulous pregnancy, her daughter gave birth to a boy with Cerebral Palsy. So, to say the least M. is one of the strongest people I know.

I met M. almost 2 years ago when she came into the gym where I worked. What I remember from those first few months is that M. was just a shadow of who she is now. We had plans to work out twice a week, which we did some of the time, but most of the time there were cancellations, because she was too tired to come in. Too many thoughts reeling through her mind created an unescapable anxiety that kept her up at night. When we did work out together though I could tell that her mind was somewhere else. She couldn’t remember things that I just showed her and I would have to constantly repeat myself. Yet, she never once got too frustrated and never once gave up. Persistence really paid off, because little by little I would catch a glimpse of the person hiding behind all that heaviness inside of her. 2 times a week became 3 times a week and one day she came into me and said, “Dani, if I’m going to do this I better stop half-assing it. I think I’m going to come in to see you 5 days a week”.

And that is when everything changed. She put her foot down and decided that she wasn’t going to live like this anymore. Every day she was going to get dressed, get out of the house, and make sure that she took care of herself. She realized that none of her feelings were going to go away on their own and that she would have to do something about it if she was ever going to feel better.

That was a year and a half ago. Almost nothing keeps her from a session anymore. Not even the food poisoning that she had last Thursday. Seriously, she had food poisoning all night on Thursday and showed up at my door on Friday morning, with absolutely no sleep or food in her stomach. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.

At 10am this morning, M. came in with a fabulous green raincoat on, a chic purple purse, and her make-up just perfect. But the thing that stood out the most was her smile. For the entire 60 minutes of our workout she had me laughing, she never complained, never once said she couldn’t do something, and mentioned that she slept through the entire night last night in her bed. If you ask her why she works out now, the weight she wants to take off is secondary. The real reason is because of how good she feels. She works out because there was a time when she couldn’t and she never ever wants to be back there again. She has strength not just in her body, but in her conviction to do this every day. If you ask her now if she likes working out, the answer will most likely be no. But does she like the results, hell yes, you bet ya!

Every single time I see M. I’m inspired. She is what it means to conquer yourself. When I’m having difficulty mustering up the energy to work out I think of her. My being tired or not in the mood is nothing compared to what she’s overcome. Not even my soreness should hold me back. So, I tell you this story, because if you’re not feeling up to it, if you’re feeling weak, if you have hang- ups that keep you from walking into the gym, or if you ever say “I can’t”, remember M., because oh yes you can! Find a way and conquer yourself.

The 3/4 Mark

Whenever I go out for a run, whether it’s a 2.5 miler or a 10 miler, I start strong and ready to go. I run and I run and I run and I think about how great I feel, how strong my legs have gotten, and my mind clears from all its day-to-day thoughts. But, inevitably, when I get to the 3/4 mark of almost finishing that’s when I get antsy and I can’t wait to see the finish line. I start to psych myself out and think that I won’t make it. That it’s too far away. That I’m going to pass out if the end mark doesn’t come soon and fast. And it seems like it takes longer for that to come than the entire run itself.

Like I said, this happens whether it’s a short or long run, which means I’m clearly psyching myself out. Even if you’ve never run at all you know what I mean by this if you’ve ever walked up a few flights of stairs. It’s those last few stairs that seem like Mt. Everest. It takes a Biggest Loser type perseverance to climb to the top.

So, why am I telling you this? Because we all hit the 3/4 mark when we’re working hard to get somewhere. If you’re trying to overcome some bad habits that are keeping you from losing weight and feeling good about yourself this 3/4 mark will creep up on you at some point. You will start off strong, motivated, and inspired. You’ll keep this up for a bit, but eventually you’re going to want to just forget it all, because it’s going to seem too hard. You have to be stronger than your mind at this point, because it will try to bring you back to your old ways.

But listen to me, if you can just get over this hurdle and remind yourself that you’re hitting a wall, that this is your 3/4 mark, you will be golden. You will overcome this mammoth sized challenge and you will come out stronger than before, and everything that you’ve struggled for will seem so much easier. You won’t even believe that it was all that hard in the first place. You might even have your Aha! moment.

Whenever I hit that wall I think of Rocky running up those steps. Find your Rocky and fight for it!

Food Fun

We’re pretty visual creatures, so it’s not surprising that sight is part of taste. When we can’t see our food, like if we were eating in the dark, we wouldn’t perceive our food to taste the same way as we would if we could see it first. Say I gave you an orange-colored drink, you would assume that it tasted like orange, right? And you would be caught pretty off guard if you tasted it and realized that it wasn’t orange-y after all, but it was really grape. Your brain and taste buds were expecting something totally different, so to be surprised like that would throw you for a loop.

So, here is where it gets interesting. Did you know that the color blue is an appetite suppressant? Interesting, huh…

Of all the colors, blue rarely occurs in nature. Aside from blueberries and some bluish-purplish potatoes, blue just doesn’t exist in large amounts as a natural food color. A million years ago, when our ancestors were foraging for food, blue, black, and purple were warning signs of potentially lethal foods.

This makes me wonder, if you were to color your foods blue with non-toxic food coloring, would you be inclined to eat less?? Would you feel less hungry while eating and not finish what’s on your plate?

Anyone up for a little science experiment?