Trans fat ban? How about just labeling GMOs?

Indeed, trans fats are not good for us. If you want to get healthy and lose weight, avoid trans fats. And, the good news is that we have labels that enable us to identify those foods that contain trans fats so that we can avoid them.  That said, what’s worse for our health are the pesticide-laden genetically engineered foods that are in 80 percent of the processed food in most grocery stores. For further information, read the full article published today in The Hill.

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How to never lose weight

When you want to lose weight and get healthy, convenience stores are evil. Never enter them. Period. The proliferation of processed junk food has led to the expanding waistline and these types of “food” should not be eaten. Ever.

Junk FoodFor kicks, try a two-day experiment. Pick any time of the day — just make sure you perform the experiment at roughly the same time of day. Day one: eat some highly processed item purchased at a convenience store, like a candy bar, chips, cupcake, whatever. Ask yourself how you feel while you’re eating it, one hour later, and two hours later. Day two: eat some type of whole healthy food, like a banana, apple, hardboiled egg, or canned tuna. Again, ask yourself how you feel while you’re eating it, one hour later, and two hours later. On day two, sneak in a walk while you’re at it. Compare how you feel.

Here’s a general rule of thumb. If the food you are about to consume has colorful packaging and is advertised on TV, don’t eat it. Convenience stores are filled with them. Got it?

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No sugar coating: it’s the sugar, stupid

In the 1700s, the average person consumed roughly seven pounds of sugar per year. Today the average person consumes 150 pounds of sugar each year and obesity rates are skyrocketing. If you want to lose weight and get healthy, you must eliminate or significantly reduce the amount of sugar you’re consuming. This includes white sugar and its nasty cousins, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and corn syrup solids. They are high in calories, highly addictive, nutrition poor, and cause your blood sugar to rise and fall. Hello Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, inflammation, yeast infections, an expanding waistline, and a long list of medical and dental conditions. Eating too much sugar causes a boatload of dreadful medical conditions and is stored in your body as fat.

photoIf you’re craving a bit of sweetness on your oatmeal, a squirt of maple syrup or honey is better. And if you must have something sweet on a rare occasion, make sure it’s one cookie, not four, and that it’s made with pure ingredients (like a homemade chocolate chip cookie) and not the preservative-laden, hydrogenated crap they sell at the grocery store. If you’re craving chocolate, have a small bite of dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa and made with raw cane sugar and no artificial crap. No, a Tootsie Roll won’t cut it. Look at the label: it’s made with sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil (hello clogged arteries and high cholesterol), condensed skim milk (woo hoo, a hint of nutrition), cocoa, whey, soya lecithin, and artificial and natural flavors (could you be more specific?). Eating artificial sweet crap is never okay if you want to live a healthy lifestyle.

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Avocados and olive oil

I once overheard an overweight woman in the produce aisle comment that she doesn’t eat avocados because they are too high in fat. Clearly, this is someone who jumped on the low fat bandwagon of eating low fat, high sugar, chemical-laden foods with the goal of losing weight. This approach has led to the expansion of waistlines and the omission of healthy fats that are essential to slimming down and getting healthy. AVOCADO-hass

If you want to lose weight, healthy fats – like avocados, olive oil, almonds, and walnuts – are fine in moderation and provide essential Omega 3 fats and vitamins. What is not okay is to eat anything that comes in a box with the words “low fat” on them. These processed foods typically contain sugar, high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients. These ingredients are not healthy, turn your blood sugar into a yo-yo, and should be avoided.

Avocados = healthy. Packaged processed food with a “low fat banner” = unhealthy.

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What are you doing when you’re not at the gym?

When people talk about how they’re trying to lose weight, they’ll often puzzle over the fact that they go to the gym and put in a good workout, yet are not losing weight. Food intake aside, the other variable in the equation is the number of calories burned. To burn calories and create a calorie deficit, we must move and move a lot.

imagesSo, you go to the gym…big deal. If you workout at the gym for an hour, but spend the rest of your day on an office chair or on the couch, you won’t lose weight. Let’s illustrate. Do you know someone who is always on the go and never seems to sit still? They are typically thin. The reason they are thin is not because they hit the gym three times a week (although that’s important), it is because of what they are doing to move when they aren’t at the gym: walking and walking. Walking to the store; walking to the bus stop; walking around the house to clean, do laundry, feed the pet; walking to the mailbox; walking while they are on the phone; walking during their lunch break.  Moving and moving.

If you’re hitting the gym, but not losing weight, watch your calorie intake, but also consider how many times your fanny hits a hard surface.

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Here come the weight loss ads

scaleNew Year’s celebrations have passed, the scale registers a little higher, weight loss resolutions have been made, and the weight loss ads have hit the airwaves. Most of the television ads are for weight loss programs that include their own “food” that I wouldn’t eat if I was stranded on a desert island. I’d be hunting for coconuts and making a spear to hunt for fish before I’d eat anything with a Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, or Atkins label. Why? Chemical shitstorms and few nutrients. Here’s a few examples:

Nutrisystem’s Chicken Alfredo: Calories in check, but high in sodium and a whole host of additives, flavor enhancers, and MSG cousins that I wouldn’t feed my dog. Artificial color, mono and diglycerides, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate, and disodium insinate. Healthy alternative: A small chicken breast brushed with olive oil and covered in a rub with real herbs and spices; roasted at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes per side.

Atkins Meatloaf with Portobello Mushroom Gravy: High in sodium and fat, with a boatload of chemicals and crap ingredients, including rendered bacon fat, hydrolyzed soy protein (MSG in disguise), beef fat, disodium insinate, disodium guanylate, and flavors. Healthy alternative: Skip the beef and have a plate full of steamed vegetables, a baked sweet potato, and legumes sautéed in olive oil, onions, and salt/pepper.

Weight Watchers Smart Ones Turkey Medallions with Mushroom Gravy: Yuk, yuk, and more yuk. High in sodium, hydrogenated oils, and a whole host of controversial ingredients, including hydrogenated oils, yeast extract autolyzed, flavors, sodium benzoate, chicken fat, disodium guanylate and inosinate, BHA, propyl gallate, and turkey flavor. What the hell is turkey flavor? Healthy alternative: Make a turkey sandwich with 100% natural turkey, preservative-free whole grain bread, lots of vegetables, and mustard.

If you want to lose weight and get healthy, you must avoid the “F words” (read chapter 21 in I’m Fat, Help Me) and embrace the other guidelines outlined in Eat Smart or Use Duct Tape (part three). Weight Watchers, Atkins, and Nutrisystem and their profit-seeking foods violate most of these guidelines.

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Go ahead and eat the holiday cookie, but…

Two parties this week, people bringing baked goods into the office, the school holiday party, and a kitchen full of flour, sugar, chocolate, and sprinkles. That’s enough to ruin any attempt to not gain weight during the holidays.

holiday-eating-caution-sign-300x215Here’s the trick: you can have a holiday cookie or two and maybe an extra drink, but you have to increase your activity. Additional calories will equate to added unwanted pounds if you don’t move your body more during the holiday season. How much more? The typical cookie has 100 calories. To burn that off, you’d need to bowl for a half hour, walk for 20 minutes at 4 mph, or brush your teeth vigorously for 35  minutes (for a 150-pound person). Sorry to be the grinch that stole Christmas.

Here’s a handy tool to help you calculate the number of calories burned by activity. Enter your weight and the minutes for any particular activity, and it will calculate the total calories burned. Enjoy the holidays by eating, being merry, and moving your body.

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It’s all in the math

Munch, munch. Nibble, nibble. Chomp, chomp. Gulp, gulp. We are eating too much and too often, and not moving enough. Today, the average American is consuming nearly one-third more calories than he did in the late 1970s, and we are less active. It’s a fairly straightforward calculation and you really don’t need to be a math guru to understand the formula that determines why we gain or lose weight. Simply stated, you must balance the calories you eat and burn each day. If you want to lose weight, then you must create a calorie deficit. What the hell is that?

A calorie deficit is when you burn more calories than you take in. In order to lose one pound of body fat, you need a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. Get it, one pound of body fat = 3,500 calories. If you have a calorie deficit of 500 calories (meaning you burn 500 calories more than you eat each day), you will lose approximately one pound per week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). If, however, you continue to munch, nibble, chomp, and gulp more than you walk, jump, and lift, you will continue to be fat and will likely get fatter.

To learn more, read I’m Fat, Help Me.

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Don’t get a Facebook fanny

Facebook is great for staying in touch with family and friends, but it may not be so great for your fanny. Regardless of whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, emails, or a work project, the average person does a lot of sitting. And all that sitting translates into a lot of ass-widening, tush spreading lack of activity. A Facebook fanny.

To get your large muscles working and rev up your metabolism while sitting, replace your desk chair with a balance ball, also called a stability ball. Using a ball while sitting at your desk forces you to adjust your body to maintain your balance, helping you to strengthen your lower back, glutes, and abdomen.

Purchase a stability ball that will enable you to sit at your desk with your feet planted on the floor so that your knees form a 90-degree angle with your hips. You can inflate the ball to the level that feels the most comfortable to you. You will discover that the ball also encourages better posture and, in the end, will help avoid the dreaded Facebook fanny.

For additional tips, read chapter 15 entitled “Sitting and Ass Squeezing” in I’m Fat, Help Me.

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It’s never too late to start…meet Ann

Regardless of your age, how much you have to lose, or how out of shape you think you are, it is never too late to begin to exercise and eat smart. I’d like you to meet Ann to make my point.

Ann is 74-years young. Two years ago she decided to continue her efforts with Weight Watchers and begin an exercise program. She joined Curves, began to walk more, and started to participate in Tufts University’s StrongWomen Program. Three times a week she heads to the mall (where Curves is located), walks around the outside of the mall (1.5 miles), and then works out at Curves. Three days a week she also lifts her weights during exercises at the Strong Women program held in her town. She started out slowly, building up strength and endurance over time. It didn’t happen over night. But two years later, Ann has lost 45 pounds and she’s stronger than ever.

“I had a hard time getting up on my tiptoes to reach for things,” Ann commented, “but now I can easily get up on my tiptoes and I feel so much stronger.” Two of her proudest moments were finally learning to twirl the hula hoop around her waist, and to hike with her family while on vacation. “The last time I hiked I think I was a Girl Scout,” she smiled proudly.  This fall Ann will participate in a training course to become a leader in the Strong Women program. Go Ann!

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