Welcome to the Biggest Loser - Turlock's 12 Week Weight Loss Challenge.

Biggest Loser Turlock begins a new 12-Week Individuals Challenge on January 7, 2014! You’re making a commitment to lose weight, and we’re looking forward to supporting you along the way. Check in on our blog often for weekly results, mini - challenges, and tips to help you stay on track and lead a healthy lifestyle!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Get Ready for the Superbowl!

Many NFL football fans will be doing more than watching the big game this Sunday - they'll be loading up on extra calories, as well.
Even though it's only one day out of the year, try not to go overboard with what you eat. Don't go to a party or celebration hungry. Have a healthy snack before you head out so you'll be less likely to overeat. The game is not until the evening so get some exercise in before kick-off.
You can enjoy your favorites whether it's chicken wings, pizza, salty snacks or other treats but do so in moderation. Nutrition experts suggest you put a few of these treats on your plate and then fill the rest with fruits, veggies and whole grains. Try to eat slowly and, if you come back for seconds, opt for more fruits and vegetables.
If there are low calorie dips available, go for those and try dipping with veggies instead of chips.
If you drink alcohol, consider low calorie options such as light beer and drink water between beverages. Alcohol lowers your blood sugar, which can leave you hungry - and more likely to overeat.

Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

- 16 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 8-oz. fat-free cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
- 1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
- 2 tbsp low calorie butter ( I used Brummel & Brown)

NOTE: If you are feeling lazy, you can use two 9.75oz cans of white chicken meat in water (drained), instead of the grilled chicken, but the taste isn’t nearly as good as using actual grilled chicken breasts.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rub chicken breasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Spray a skillet with non-fat cooking spray, and set on med/high heat. Put in chicken breasts, and cook until brown on both sides and meat is cooked through. Once meat is cooked, cut it up into bite sized shredded chunks. Set aside. In a large, oven safe bowl, stir cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in chicken and other remaining ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until dip has heated all the way through.
Serving size is approx 1/2 cup
Each serving = 2 Point Total

Entire recipe makes 12 servings

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mini Challenge Winners

Our mini challenge yesterday was a one-mile walk. Anyone who completed the walk when they came to weigh-in had their names entered into a drawing for 1 of (10) Biggest Loser Power Walk DVD's. And here are the winners!

Isela Scroggins
Luis Arrizon
Sallie Wright
Shanti Pinedo
Barbara Olave
Nathan Ayala
Katie Contreras
Nancy Nelson
Kris Horn
Laura Willey

Congratulation! You can pick up your DVD's on Monday at weigh-in!

Why Do I Crave Comfort Food?

An insatiable desire for all things cheesy, creamy, and carby may be the sign of a serious health problem. 

Q:  Why do I crave comfort food more in the winter?

A:  Seasonal changes in food cravings are a good example of the tight link between food and our hormones and emotions. If you notice a marked changed in your levels of desire for homemade baked macaroni and cheese (my No. 1 comfort food) as the weather turns colder and darker, it could be due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
This condition is characterized by increased anxiety, oversleeping, lethargy, and problems concentrating. Since comfort foods are generally high in fat and carbs, they can increase serotonin production and thus feelings of wellbeing, making them a natural pick for anyone feeling low.
See your doctor, and if it turns out you do have SAD, try some of these treatments to deal with your wintertime blues instead of heading to the kitchen.

Vitamin D
Improvement in blood levels of the “sunshine” vitamin is associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms. I recommend that you get your vitamin D levels checked (this is a simple blood test that your physician should have no problem approving for you), and then supplement with vitamin D according to your test results. If you want to skip the blood test, you can start taking 2,000 to 3,000 IU of vitamin D each day, as this dosage is shown to be safe. I would caution against supplementing with higher levels, however, without having a blood test done.

Light Therapy 
This involves sitting in front of a light box, which simulates natural light, for a predetermined period of time each day. For the most effective treatment, you should look directly into the light box light. As with most things, start out slow with 10- to 15-minute sessions, and work up to longer sessions depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Get Outside
It doesn’t get much easier than a walk outdoors. One study in Denmark found that going for a stroll outside was as effective as light therapy for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. And there’s no substituting nature photos on your laptop for time spent taking in real nature: In a review of research looking at the impact of nature versus technologically simulated nature (for example, nature scenes projected on HDTVs), researchers found that technologically simulated nature is as effective at improving mood and wellbeing as staring at a brick wall, but a real window to nature improves wellbeing and reduces stress.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Is Walking a Mile Good Exercise?

About 60 percent of American adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise, and about 25 percent are not physically active at all, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Exercise need not be strenuous to provide significant health benefits. Physical inactivity is most common in older women, and walking is often an ideal way for them to gain some of the health benefits of physical activity.

Moderate Intensity

Though many athletes and other people get regular vigorous or sustained exercise most days, the actual goal of good exercise is simply to achieve moderate intensity physical activity. The Michigan Surgeon General defines moderate intensity physical activity as that which causes you to feel exertion, but wouldn't prevent you from holding a conversation comfortably. For most people, walking should fall within this category. If you need to walk more than 4 mph in order to feel exertion, use proper speed-walking technique or consider jogging instead.

Duration of Activity

The Michigan Surgeon General places the target for physical activity at 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense activity at least five times each week. At an average walking speed of 3 to 4 mph, this means the equivalent of walking anywhere from 1.5 to 4 miles. Thus, while walking a mile is good exercise, on its own it is probably insufficient to meet the recommended level of physical activity. Continuing on for at least an extra half mile, however, would probably be sufficient to meet your minimum level of recommended physical activity for the day.

Cumulative Activity

The total amount of cumulative physical exertion you undertake in a day determines whether someone is getting "good exercise." That means you can get the same relative benefit from a longer period of less intense activity as you can from a relative brief period of intense exercise. Thus, 30 minutes of brisk walking is about as useful as 15 to 20 minutes of jogging. And if 30 minutes to an hour is tough to fit into your schedule, break it up into 10- or 20-minute segments. If you are completely sedentary, start by getting just five to 10 minutes of moderate activity daily and gradually build to your desired level of exertion

One Mile Could Be Enough

Walking one mile alone could be good and sufficient exercise if it took a full 30 minutes to complete the mile at a moderately intense pace. This would be an average pace of about 2 miles per hour. While it probably wouldn't be true for most people, if at this pace you feel the exertion of the activity, walking one mile would be enough exercise for the day even if you completed it in two or three different periods during the day


Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/397890-is-walking-1-mile-good-exercise/#ixzz2J6P9KE4W

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/397890-is-walking-1-mile-good-exercise/#ixzz2J6OianFx

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Help with Hitting Your 5-a-Day Quota

Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

We all know we should be eating our fruits and vegetables. You’ve probably heard the recommendations for meeting a 5-a-day quota, or seen the USDA’s recommendation to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies during each meal. And you probably already know that eating fruits and vegetables provides a number of important health benefits, like reducing the risk of chronic diseases and heart disease and helping you manage your weight. Eating a diet filled with veggies and fruits might also protect against certain cancers and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

With all of those benefits, you’d think the entire human population would be chowing down on bok choy and snacking on spinach. But not everyone has a built-in love for the produce department. If you struggle to fit in your fruits and vegetables, read on for some tips and tricks to make eating a healthier diet easier than ever!

Tips for Increasing Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake

1. Eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal. If half a plate of fruits and vegetables seems like an overwhelming goal for you right now, start by simply adding one fruit or veggie to each meal. You can eat them as a side—think a cup of green beans with dinner or a banana with breakfast—or simply start adding them to foods you already eat. Fruit is a cinch to add to oatmeal, yogurt and cereal in the morning. Add onions and peppers to meat dishes, or pile a few of your favorite vegetables onto your sandwich. Once you start working them in, you’ll welcome the new additions!

2. Snack smart. Instead of hitting the vending machine for an afternoon pick-me-up, start snacking on fruits and vegetables. Cut veggies and hummus or sliced fruit with yogurt dip will satisfy you more than a candy bar will.

3. Drink up. While you should limit the number of calories you get from beverages, if you have trouble fitting fruits and vegetables into your busy life, work them into a drink that you can take on the go. Try outsmoothie recipes until you find a few you love and work them into your rotation as a breakfast or afternoon snack option. You can easily get several fruit and vegetable servings in a yummy beverage. If you simply want juice, look for 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice for it to count as a serving, but limit yourself to no more than one serving of fruit or vegetable juice per day, as the calories are concentrated and juice removes some of the other benefits of produce (such as fiber).

4. Slurp some soup! Soups and stews can be a nutritious, filling way to get lots of vegetables into a meal. Soup is an easy way to increase the variety of veggies you eat, too, as it can make some of your least favorite options more palatable. If you don’t make your own, make sure you know the healthy soup options at the grocery store.

5. Be ready at all times. Have cut fruits and vegetables in the fridge ready for munching at all times. Whether you buy the pre-cut options in the produce department or take the time to cut and bag it yourself, you’re more likely to eat it if it’s readily and easily available. Have hummus, low-fat ranch or fruit dip on hand, too, if it’ll encourage you to eat up.

6. Keep them in sight, in mind. Just like you keep sweets out of sight to discourage incessant snacking, keeping fruits and veggies in sight will help you think of them as an option for eating. Stock a fruit bowl at work each week and keep a bowl on the kitchen counter at home so you’ll be more likely to eat it when you’re hungry.

7. Bar hop. Next time you’re blanking on a quick, easy place to grab lunch, head to the salad bar at a local grocery store. With an endless variety of vegetables, cut fruit and soups, it’s an easy way to make sure you get a meal rich in nutrients and fiber.

8. Start smart. Make it a habit to order a salad or vegetable-based soup when you’re out at restaurants. These fiber-rich starters may keep you from overeating when your meal comes, in addition to helping you add more vegetables into your day.

9. Bag it up. It may be more expensive to buy pre-chopped lettuce mixes, but they make whipping up a salads a breeze. Throw a few into your shopping cart so you can take salads to work for lunch or have dinner salads ready throughout the week. Just make sure your salad toppings are healthy ones!

10. Use the freezer. If you buy produce in bulk only to have it rot in your refrigerator before you get to it, start using your freezer more frequently (and check here for produce storage tips!). Have a stock of frozen fruits and veggies on hand at all times so you’ll always have them ready for smoothies and easy dinner sides.

11. Chop them up. If you have a hard time crunching into big vegetables, try slicing and dicing them into a more manageable size. Shred carrots and zucchini or finely dice onions, pepper and spinach to hide in pasta sauces, hamburger patties, omelets and casseroles.

12. Pack portable produce. If you’re a snacker who gets hungry when you’re out running errands or on the way home from work in the early evening, carry easy-to-eat fruit and vegetable items for snacking. Spinach and kiwi may not be convenient on the go, but baby carrots, chopped broccoli and celery sticks are great for munching anywhere, as are no-muss, no-fuss bananas, apples and grapes. Dried fruits like raisins and prunes are easy to have on hand for a quick snack, too.

13. Find the ones you love. While you should aim for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, don’t hesitate to stick to the handful you love if you can only stomach a few. It won’t do you any good to buy the spinach you know you hate if it’s just going to sit in your crisper until it turns into goo. Buy your favorite fruits and vegetables and eat up, while allowing yourself to experiment with new options every now and then. You never know--you might find a new favorite!

The USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both have calculators on their sites to help you calculate how many fruit and vegetable servings you should aim for each day. Everyone’s caloric and dietary needs are different and depend on age and activity level, so see what’s recommended for you and make that your new goal!

  -- By Erin Whitehead, Health and Fitness Writer

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Last Week's Mini-Challenge Winners!

Congratulations to the following 10 people who won our mini-challenge last week. The Challenge was to journal your eating habits, your calorie intake or exercise hours for at least 2 full days. If you did, this, your name was put into a drawing and the winners are:
Mike Rich
Odelta Cardoso
Angie Raposo
Shally Vasquez
Alysia Gonzales
Cherie Pettit
Meghann Ryan
Gina Ceja
Donna Geary
Kris Pettit

Great Job! You can pick up your copy of the Biggest Loser Food Journal next Monday at weigh-in! Make sure you all take a look at the column to the right to see what this coming week's mini challenge will be!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Finding Time to Workout

Busting the #1 Exercise Excuse: Lack of Time

What's the No. 1 excuse for not working out? Lack of time. Sure, we're all busy handling multiple priorities and rushing around from here and there every day. However, I promise that no matter how busy you are, someone even busier than you are is working out right now. If you look closer, you'll discover that you do have the time to work out—and you deserve to use that time for yourself.

Squeezing in just a few minutes of physical exercise a day has huge benefits on your health, gives you energy and perks up your mood. In fact, a new study published by The Lancet found that if inactive people increased their physical activity by just 15 minutes per day, they could reduce their risk of premature death by 14% and increase their life expectancy by three years.  Also, remember that "working out" doesn't have to happen in the gym or last for an hour! Short 10-minute bursts of exercise, accumulated over the course of the day, can add up to big fitness and health gains, too.

Still not convinced that you have the time to exercise? Here's how to start fitting fitness into your busy life today!

10 Practical Tips to Fit Fitness into Your Busy Life

1. Wake up earlier. Sleep is definitely important for overall health and weight-loss, but could you hit the sheets just 30 minutes earlier, so that you could get up and work out before your day starts? Working out in the morning has numerous benefits including regulating appetite, boosting energy and—perhaps the biggest benefit of all—an A.M. sweat session ensures that your workout is checked off first thing each day! Because really, how many times have you had the best intentions to exercise in the evening, only to have to work late, help your kids with a project or generally just feel too exhausted to get off the couch? With morning workouts, the time problem is solved!

2. Cut down on media. For just a few days, record how much time you spend surfing the Internet, checking personal email, watching TV and playing video games whether it's on your computer or your phone. You just might be surprised at how much time you spend on Facebook or playing Angry Birds. Just a few minutes here and there can add up to an hour or more each day. Cut out just some of that screen time and, voila, you suddenly have time to squeeze in at least 10 or 15 minutes of exercise into even the busiest day.

3. Be an active TV watcher. It's unrealistic to never watch TV or to shun the Internet forever.  So when you do, try to incorporate some physical activity. When watching TV, make it a point to do some jumping jacks or push-ups during commercials. Doing a little exercise during the commercial breaks can add up to almost 20 minutes of fitness for every hour of TV you watch. And instead of sitting in a chair when on the computer, try sitting on a stability ball or stack your computer up on some books so that you have a standing desk to surf from. No matter how you do it, try not to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time!

4. Try an active commute. One of the best ways to fit exercise into your life is by incorporating it into your school or work transportation routine. If you live close enough, consider biking to work. If you take the bus, walk to a bus stop that's an extra block or two away, or get off the bus a stop sooner than usual and get a few more steps in. And if you drive to work, park as far away as you can—even a few blocks away, if possible.

5.  Make it part of your routine. One reason it's so challenging to fit exercise into a busy schedule is because we're not used to doing it. Heck, it takes time to brush your teeth in the morning, but you do it, don't you? You brush your teeth every day because it's important and because it's almost second nature to get up and do it. Start making some form of exercise—whether it's walking the dog, doing 10 minutes of yoga or going for a bike ride after dinner—a daily tradition, just like showering, brushing your teeth or hitting the coffee shop on the way to work. It's easy to fit in exercise for a few days here or there, but by incorporating it into your daily routine like you would your hygiene, you take the process of working out away from willpower and into habit. Need help getting into the habit? Try SparkGuy's Daily Workout Streak Challenge!

6. Mix socializing with exercising. Do you normally spend time with your family or friends by going to dinner, watching sports on TV or going to movies? Make your social time more active by planning events that get all of you moving. Go for a family hike on a beautiful Saturday morning, play a game of tag football with your buddies during halftime, or make a date with your significant other or best friend on the treadmill. There are so many options for squeezing more activity into your social calendar!

7. Turn chores into exercise. While cleaning might not be the most fun activity, it's something we all have to do, and it can definitely be a workout if you want it to be. Set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes and see how much of the house you can clean. Try to be as efficient and quick-paced as possible, and I guarantee you'll work up a sweat. If you're doing lighter housework that is harder to get your heart rate up (like laundry or organizing), throw in some lunges or push-ups every few minutes to start feeling the burn!

8. Schedule an appointment. If you had scheduled a doctor's appointment, you wouldn't miss it would you? How about that important business meeting? Of course not. Working out is actually as important as going to the doctor or any other obligation that you prioritize, because it helps you perform better as a worker, parent, student or volunteer, and keeps you in tip-top shape. So whether it's scheduling in an hour to go to that group exercise class, investing in personal training sessions or even making a date with yourself to do that workout DVD over your lunch break, write it in pen in your calendar and treat it like any other appointment you can't miss!

9. Find an activity you love. Think of your favorite hobby or pastime. Do you have trouble finding time to do it? Most likely, you make time for it because you enjoy it so much. It's the things we don't enjoy that we put off and don't feel bad about missing. That's why it's best to choose a physical activity that you actually enjoy and look forward to. Not only are you more likely to do it, but it also adds more fun into your life. And we all could use some more fun in our busy lives, right?

10. Say no. If you've gone through this entire list of tips and don't think a single one will work in your life, then it's time to look at your priorities and responsibilities. Do you really have to bake cookies for that fundraiser? Babysit for your sister? Take on that extra project at work? Attend that wedding shower of your second cousin? Remember that there's nothing wrong in saying no. Yes, we all have obligations to others, but don't forget about the obligation you have to yourself to take care of your body and your health!

Remember, exercise gives you energy and keeps you healthy to keep going in that busy life of yours! So don't think of exercise as another to-do to squeeze in on your already busy schedule. Instead, think of it as maintenance for your health and a way to de-stress and do something for you! 

  -- By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor

Friday, January 18, 2013


With two-thirds of Americans currently overweight, it is evident that losing weight is not an easy task to accomplish. During the first week of weight loss, motivation is high and the pounds seem to roll off. Week two is often a different story. Understanding why weight loss can slow down will keep you from getting discouraged as you continue along on your weight-loss journey.


It is common to lose 3, 4 or even 5 lbs. the first week when changing your diet. However, a large percentage of this lost weight is water. When you decrease caloric consumption, your body starts to burn glycogen for energy. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate and tends to hold onto large amounts of water. When it is burned for energy, this water is released. Because each gram of glycogen holds onto 4 g of water, there is a significant weight loss when it is burned. That is why week two's weight loss won't match week one's weight loss.


Refined carbohydrates like sugar, candy, soda and chips tend to have an addictive quality to them. For most people, the more you have of them, the more you want them. When you change your diet and cut down on these foods, your body goes through a kind of withdrawal, and you get intense cravings for these foods. If you are eating a healthy diet, these cravings will dissipate after a short time, but they tend to be really bad in week two. This is something you just need to try to tough out until the cravings become more manageable.


When you first start a diet, you are really excited to make changes, and your focus and adrenaline get you through the first week easily. In week two, you start to realize that this whole weight loss thing is going to take some work. The realization that your life will have to seriously change to accomplish your goals becomes apparent. In other words, reality sinks in. This can be a challenge for many.


Most weight-loss plans include an exercise component. It is common to overdo it the first week and experience delayed onset muscle soreness. Delayed onset muscle soreness occurs after 24 to 48 hours in response to either aerobic or resistance exercise. Eccentric muscle contraction leads to structural damages to the muscle that tends to result in an inflammatory response. This soreness can sap your will to exercise because it is uncomfortable. It is a good idea to gradually increase your physical activity over a period of weeks to decrease delayed onset muscle soreness. This will help to keep you motivated in week two and going forward.

By Dr. Thomas L. Halton

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Distracted Eating

You are a multitasker if:
  • You eat and drink while driving.
  • You eat and drink while reading and talking on the phone.
  • You eat and drink while preparing meals and cleaning the kitchen.
You are, however, also a distracted eater.


Although the industrialized world feels the need to multitask, we may be undermining our health when it comes to eating and drinking without paying attention.
Your body regulates hunger and satiety through a complex interaction of physical signals and sensory cues. Research shows that eating while distracted can prolong your eating time and reduce the interval between meals. This leads to taking in more calories than needed, and that usually leads to weight gain.

Hunger and Fullness

When you're physiologically hungry, you need food. Hunger signals range from an empty feeling in your stomach, to stomach growling, headaches, lightheadedness, irritability, and/or stomach pains.
Satiety, or fullness, occurs when the body no longer feels hungry. There are physiological and sensory cues your body gives when it's satisfied or sated. For instance, when you're full, your midline might feel a bit stretched.
If you are engaged in another activity while eating, it can be hard to detect the subtle feeling of satiety. For example, when driving, you need to pay attention to the road. That means you can't focus on what you're eating, if you're still hungry, or if you've had enough to eat. Most people continue eating, while distracted, until all the food is gone.

There's More to Eating

Eating and drinking are intricately involved with the senses. You see food, hear it cook, touch it, smell it, and then taste it.
Try to uncouple eating from other activities. If you track what you eat in a food record, note of other activities you do while eating. Notice where you are, whom you're with, and note the time. You're looking for patterns or behavior chains that you can break.
In the meantime,
  • Eat at the table.
  • Set the table with dinnerware, silverware, placemats and napkins, and maybe even candles,
  • Pick a place in the kitchen or dining room at home and at work. Pledge to eat and drink at this spot.
  • Turn the television off while eating.
  • If you are in the car, pull over to eat at a pit stop or take an exit to a pleasant country road.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Key to Weight Loss Success

It's Write In Front of You
Finally-- here it is. You have been waiting to hear these words for years...or at least as long the zipper on your skinny jeans hasn't budged. The key to weight loss success! It's not a shake, a supplement, or an exercise gizmo. You have it already, right at your finger tips.

"I feel the most important action one can take when trying to lose weight is to keep a food diary," says SparkPeople dietitian Becky Hand. "Yes, it takes time to write down everything consumed during the day, but this in itself can curtail overeating and be vital for self-assessment and monitoring.  Today, it is easier than ever with computer-based tools such as SparkPeople's free Food Tracker.  A few clicks, and your results are known immediately!"

Studies show that people who keep food journals lose more weight and keep more of that weight off in the long run. The National Weight Control Registry–an ongoing research project tracking more than 3,000 people who’ve lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for five years–found that keeping a food journal is the one strategy used by the majority of successful dieters. In fact, in a study of 1,685 dieters conducted by a health insurance company, the best predictor of weight loss throughout the first year was the number of food records kept per week. Another recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dieters who tracked their food intake in a "food diary" lost twice as much weight as those who didn't track their food.

This is why the Nutrition Tracker plays such a key role in the SparkDiet. It gives you a proven, fighting chance. If you're not yet a Nutrition Tracker user, try it out for a few days and see if it doesn't help youmake better choices, too.

Why keep a food journal?
  • Tracking the food we consume forces us to take responsibility for our food choices. It shows what we're really eating.
  • An accurate food journal helps us see eating patterns, giving us insight into when and why we eat.
  • Monitoring the foods we eat helps us estimate calorie intake, so we can make adjustments, by eating less or exercising more.
If you're beginning a program to change your habits, you may want to start with a baseline food journalthat keeps track of a "typical" week of food choices and exercise. This way, you'll have a better handle on what you need to work on-- problem times or situations, circumstances that make it difficult to eat healthy, and so on. The level of detail you record depends on your goals, but some possible things to jot down include:
  • What you eat and how much you eat: You can estimate portions, but be honest and be thorough-- don't forget items such as candy, condiments, etc. Record as you go to ensure accuracy.
  • When and where you eat: Time of day, how long you were eating, if you ate in a fast-food restaurant or the company cafeteria, etc.
  • Who you were with and any other activity you were involved in: Were you reading or watching TV, or having brunch with your best friend?
  • Your mood while eating: Were you bored, frustrated, happy? This may tell you whether you engage in emotional eating—eating triggered by mood, not hunger.
  • Any exercise you did, including the activity, length and intensity, and estimate of calories burned.
  • Any special categories for which you want to monitor consumption, such as carbohydrates, fat, or fiber content.
Once you have a baseline journal, you can set priorities for what to work on. Do you eat well when eating by yourself, but go overboard when you're with friends? Does the routine of a workday keep you in line, while the freedom of the weekend weakens your willpower? Do you subsist on convenience foods that are heavy on processing but light on nutrients and real taste? Important things to consider include:
  • What is your real motivation for eating? Are you truly hungry when you eat or are you eating for emotional reasons?
  • Do you eat well-balanced meals with reasonable serving sizes? If not, map out the changes you’d like to make.
  • Do you eat at appropriate intervals, or do you eat a little and then overindulge later? It may seem counterintuitive, but eating smaller amounts more often may keep your energy high, and prevent overeating.
A food journal allows you to compare your habits to the healthy habits recommended by experts: getting 25 grams of fiber a day, limiting fat intake to 35 percent of your total calorie intake, and consuming fewer calories than your body burns daily. You can then continue to track what’s important to you—whether it involves elaborate detail or very simple information.

Keeping a food journal can make us uncomfortable because doing so forces us to recall things we’d rather not take note of—that chocolate shake we had for lunch, or that extra mound of mashed potatoes we regretted as soon we inhaled it. In other words: no pain, no gain. When you see the foods you’ve eaten listed in black-and-white, you can’t wish them away. But pain, even metaphorical pain, can be the impetus for change—and if used consistently, a food journal can be the instrument of that change. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weigh-in Day

I have said over and over that the scale is just a number. It isn’t judging me, but I still dread stepping on it.
Here are some words to live by on weigh-in day...

The number on the scale is just a number... really

The number on the scale will not tel you: 
  • What a great person you are
  • How much your family and friends love you
  • That you are kind, smart, funny and amazing in ways a number can not define
  • That you have the power to choose happiness
  • Your own self-worth
Repeat after me: It really is JUST a number. It does NOT make me the person that I am..... it is just a number. If I don't like that number it is my responsibility to change it. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Weekend Diet: Victory or Defeat?

Get tips to help you stay on track in any situation.

There's something about weekends that sends caution—and calories—to the wind. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis published a study in the journal Obesity last year and found that subjects on strict diet-and-exercise programs tend to lose weight more slowly than expected because they ate more on weekends than during the week.

"We thought weekends would present a problem for some people attempting to lose weight, but the consistency of our findings before and during the [study] interventions was surprising," says study author Susan B. Racette, PhD, assistant professor of physical therapy and of medicine. "Subjects in the diet and exercise groups lost weight during the week, but over the weekend, subjects in the diet group stopped losing weight and those in the exercise group gained because they were eating more."

Of course you want to live a little on the weekend, but if you're trying to shed pounds or even just keep the scale steady, you have to maintain a certain level of vigilance. Here, how to rethink your weekend habits so you'll lose weight all week.

1. I Deserve to Splurge

"This week was tough; I deserve to indulge."

Healthier Splurge
Treat yourself to something small.

Splurge with extra savvy. The need for a reward is human nature, says Stephen Gullo, PhD, author ofThe Thin Commandments Diet. And for many, that "something special" is food. You can't change what makes you happy, but you can minimize the diet damage. Choose one portion-controlled item that requires you to leave the house, such as a kid's-size confection from your favorite ice cream parlor or a small, fresh pastry from a bakery. "It's more rewarding to have a nice treat than to waste calories on regular things you can have anytime, like potato chips or cookies," says Gullo.

Racette says that if you're attending a social event, you should decide in advance how much you'll eat or drink. "You can tell yourself that you'll sample only three dishes or have one portion of a certain food or sip only one drink. Figure out what works best for you that will leave you satisfied without overdoing the calories."

Doing something special works too: Catch a movie, get a massage at the spa, or buy a flattering pair of yoga pants.

2. I've Got Dinner Plans

"I'm going out with friends to catch up."

Healthier Splurge
Plan activities, not meals.

A study in The New England Journal of Medicine 2 years ago revealed that your social networks could cause you to gain weight. If you're surrounded by friends and family members who are overweight or gaining weight and practice bad eating habits, the likelihood that you'll start packing on the pounds increases by as much as 57%!

Sticking to a healthy eating plan on the weekends is difficult because our environment makes it easy to overeat on many occasions, says Racette. "Activity is very important because if you're less active on weekends, that adds to the problem. People have to consciously try to get in more exercise to balance out the extra calorie intake."

Instead of catching up over a restaurant table, plan to socialize doing nonfood activities, like walking together, window-shopping, or visiting a new art museum. Likewise, when you want to get out of the house on a Saturday night, look for fun activities like bowling. If you do want to grab a bite, stick to lunch—it's easier to eat light, and you probably won't order cocktails.

3. I'm Overbooked

"Obligations throw off my usual routine."

Healthier Splurge
Take control wherever and whenever you can.

Your weekends are often too packed to accommodate your regular diet-and-exercise schedule, but that doesn't mean you can't make healthy choices.

"Planning ahead can't be emphasized enough," Racette says. She recommends packing healthy food if you're running errands, eating a little something before a party so you aren't starving when you arrive, and even packing a light lunch or snacks before going to the mall or kids' activities so that you have a choice other than junk food at a concession stand.

Going to a party? Racette suggests practicing these healthier behaviors: Pay attention to portion sizes, position yourself away from food, hold a club soda in one hand (so it's harder to balance a plate and eat), bring a healthy dish, and focus on socializing.

Also plan active family outings that aren't doable during the week, such as a tennis match with your spouse or a hike with the kids. You'll burn calories that could help even out a sensible weekend splurge.

4. I Unwind with Wine

"A predinner cocktail is part of my routine."

Healthier Splurge
Enjoy it during the meal.

Even weekday teetotalers don't think twice about a cocktail before dinner—and then another while they eat. The problem: "Alcohol breaks down inhibitions, so it's harder to make healthy food choices when you do sit down," says Gary Foster, PhD, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. A glass of Cabernet and a few handfuls of mixed nuts while making dinner or waiting to be seated can add up to more than 600 calories—and that's even before the appetizer. Imbibe with your meal, and choose a high-quality drink you'll want to savor, such as vintage wine or single malt scotch, over some high-cal fruity concoction. Sub in one or two club sodas with lime while you're eating.

5. I Need to Relax

"I run around all week; now I want to kick back."

Healthier Splurge
Try a little active relaxation.

Some decompressing is essential, but planting yourself on the couch for hours while catching up on the TV shows you recorded all week can lead to trouble. A long stretch of inactivity can inspire compulsive nibbling, especially if boredom is one of your overeating triggers, says Gullo.

Sure, you can enjoy some relaxing tube time with your family, but designate a time limit—say, 2 hours a night—so you can spend your free time doing other activities. Devote part of Sunday to prepping healthy food for weeknight dinners and lunches so you'll have more time to unwind during the week too.

And make it a point to squeeze in some activity each day. If a 150-pound woman ditches her 25-minute weekday walk both weekend days, that's almost 200 calories she's not burning off. It may not seem like much, but that adds up to an additional 3 pounds each year just for taking those 2 days a week off.

6. I'll Eat Better Next Week

"I'll just have one last hurrah before I start my diet on Monday."

Healthier Splurge
Drop the "last supper" mindset.

Healthy eating for weight loss doesn't have an on/off switch; it's a way of life, says Dave Grotto, RD, a former spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and founder of Nutrition Housecall, a nutrition-consulting firm. He encourages his clients to treat themselves during the week, maybe with a light beer one night and a single-scoop ice-cream cone another, so they're not feeling deprived and desperate enough to polish off half a pint of ice cream on Friday night for 500 calories.

If you overdo it at one meal, start your weight loss plan at your next meal or snack. To rev up your resolve before the weekend hits, consider weighing yourself each Friday.

According to Racette's research, "weighing yourself regularly gives you a reason to be more vigilant on the weekends."