Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:
Most of you are more than familiar with tracking food and calories. You can do this any number of ways: MyFitness Pal, Pen and Paper, sticky notes–whatever works for you! Some goals of tracking EVERYTHING you put in your mouth are:

– Increases awareness of what, how and when you eat
– Promote accountability for yourself and you can share with your weight loss coach
– Increases knowledge base about calories, macronutrients and portion sizes. Usually, in the beginning it’s a big wake up call as you realize that American serving sizes are colossal!
– Can unveil patterns of mindless eating, habits, food triggers and food cues (you shall know the truth and it will set you free)
– Help you to lose weight. Research supports that the simple act of writing it down is correlated with greater amounts of weight loss

– Do not generalize. Be specific and write everything down including portion sizes and amounts
– Include extra’s such as condiments, dressings, creamers, etc–they add up!
– Keep it simple. If you make it too difficult, you will not stick with tracking
– Include your feelings and emotions
– Find a format that works for YOU. Myfitness Pal is a good tool, but pen and paper works well too
– Personalize it. Journaling is about YOU and for YOU. You may have to experiment some before you find a system that works for you

In addition to tracking food, I would advocate for a different type of journaling. When we overeat, it’s likely not due to a knowledge deficit. More than likely our harmful eating habits are in response to emotional triggers such as feelings of loneliness, sadness, anger, boredom, stress, etc. We can also eat to increase feelings of happiness or elation. Journaling is simply a method for externalizing your thoughts, feelings or emotions. I would argue that most of us have not been taught how to identify and deal with our tough emotions. So instead of dealing with our emotions and taking control of our emotional health, we stuff emotions/feelings with food (or fill in the blank). Journaling is a powerful tool that allows your left and right brain to work together to solve complex problems.

If you have weight loss goals, it’s important that you reconnect with journaling and/or food tracking. Try it for one week and see if its a tool that helps you.

HIIT-is it right for you?

Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“HIIT-is it right for you?”
Exercise/Movement is the other half in the energy balance equation. Factors like sleep, stress, genetics, environment, etc certainly play a role, but the greatest impact comes from diet and exercise and those that are within your direct control. The ACSM recommends 30 mins of “moderate” intensity physical 5 days a week, or 20 mins of “vigorous” intensity physical activity 3 days a week. To measure intensity, you can use the talk test or you can directly measure your heart rate using a Fitbit or HR monitor.
-Moderate intensity is the point at which you feel slightly out of breath, but are still able to carry on a conversation. You may have a slight sweat. Measuring the heart rate, this would be about 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. Max Heart Rate is calculated as 220-age. So, for example a women who is 50 would have a MHR 170 beats per minute. Aiming for moderate intensity, she should be in the range of 85-119 bpm. Vigorous Intensity (perceived exertion as hard to very hard) could be targeted at 70-85% MHR. The 50 yr. old would aim for 119-145 bpm. And then there’s high intensity….

What is HIIT? It stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It is targeted at 80-95% of MHR and can be used to improve your aerobic and anaerobic fitness level, decrease blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve lipid profiles (Cholesterol), decrease abdominal obesity and to maintain or increase lean muscle tissue. You alternate between intervals of high intensity followed by active recovery phases. In essence, you get a lot of bang for your buck with HIIT because it can be a real time saver. In addition, people usually experience results which helps them to maintain motivation.

HIIT can be modified at the individual level based on injuries, conditions and fitness levels. If you are just starting out, walking for short distances may be your starting point and that is perfectly fine. Just keep doing this in order to build a habit. Build an aerobic base and then work from there to increase intensity and/or endurance. Applying HIIT principles, a person could walk for 2 minutes at moderate intensity, then jog for 1 minute. Alternate this cycle from 20-60 minutes or focus on distance. Apps such as C25K (couch to 5k) can help with a plan. It’s my responsibility to remind you to check with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise routine, but I should also remind you that NOT exercising is dangerous to your health. Find a group of people that you can maintain an active lifestyle with.

Thank you to Kaylan Gilliam who rocked the 6p class–that was too much fun! Thank you for leading.

Stress & Weight loss

Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“Stress & Weight loss”
Stress. No one can escape it, BUT you can change how you respond to it (notice I said respond and not REACT). If CHRONIC stress becomes a way of life, it can wreak havoc on your health. In terms of weight loss, stress makes it very difficult to lose weight for several reasons:
1) Stress causes a cascading release of hormones that ultimately results in increased hunger and cravings (Increased ghrelin signaling and decreased leptin signaling)
2) Stress increases cortisol which may lead to central fat deposition (Extra fat around the abdominal cavity)
3) Stress makes it difficult to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors such as exercise and planning nutritious meals. If you’re stressed out, you’ll find you have very little energy to make thoughtful decisions about food and exercise
4) Stress often leads to overeating because overeating food causes a release of serotonin in the brain. Over time, this creates a habit that is hard to break.

Chronic stress affects digestion (IBS and reflux), can lead to hypertension, increased risk for diabetes, depression, anxiety, weight gain, pain and can weaken your immune system.

The solution:
AVOID, ALTER OR ADAPT. There are some stressful situations that you can avoid all together (discussions on controversial issues, watching the news, etc). Others you may have to alter or adapt. If you simply cannot avoid rush hour traffic, find a book to listen to or some nice music. Keep a list of your favorite podcasts or TED talks and listen to them in the car. Change your outlook on challenges.

Some helpful strategies to relieve stress: prayer/meditation, yoga, exercise, dancing, breathing exercises, balanced diet, mindful eating, sleep (7-9 hours), massage, laugh often.

If chronic stress is a way of life for you, here are my top recommendations:

Stress happens to all of us, but it should not become a way of life. If you live under chronic stress, maintaining your healthy weight will be very challenging. Take an inventory of stressful events in your life and start to make changes today. It will be worth it!