What “Thigh Gap” Taught Me About Changing My Habits

by | Oct 27, 2014

Photo by jenny downing

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was sit in bed with my parents and read books. On one particular afternoon I was getting ready to read with my mom, resting my back against the headboard with my knees bent to prop my book.

While waiting for her to join me, I noticed with curiosity that when my knees were together the rest of my legs didn’t touch at all. I thought that was biologically interesting and pointed it out to my mom.

“That gap better stay there,” she retorted unsympathetically.

I was shocked. I simultaneously felt chastised, judged and confused. I was only 8 years old, and obviously had never heard of “thigh gap.” It was also the first time in my life I felt self-conscious about my body.

I didn’t say a word, and we never discussed it again. But for the following days, weeks and years the message sank in: being thin was incredibly important and my mom would be disappointed if I let my appearance slip.

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Goals are for Losers: The Life-Changing Advice No One Tells You

by | Oct 22, 2014

Photo by Bronski Beat

When I was a dieter I always had a goal. Many goals.

“I want to weigh 120 pounds.”

“I want to be a size 2.”

“I want to eat fewer than 50 grams of carbs every day.”

I thought if I achieved these goals I would be happy. But the truth was that as long as I had these goals, I was frustrated.

I consider myself lucky that as a female I never confused my weight loss struggles with my self-worth. That is, I knew I didn’t need to be skinny to be a good scientist or a worthy girlfriend. But it was incredibly irritating to me that I was doing everything I was told to do––eat salads, avoid carbs, drink lots of water, exercise every day, etc.––and wasn’t getting the results I wanted.

It wasn’t until I stopped dieting and systematically started transforming myself into a healthy non-dieter that the “success” I had been seeking finally materialized. Trading in my goals for a system––a healthstyle––quite literally changed my life.

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For the Love of Food

by | Oct 17, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week how to preserve your aging brain, vegetables are the new bacon, and how to stay motivated to achieve your goals.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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For the Love of Food

by | Oct 3, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week learn what’s really stopping you from changing your habits, good reasons to eat mindLESSly, and how attitude impacts exercise.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)
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The Worst Thing You Can Do if You’re Trying to Lose Weight

by | Sep 29, 2014

beauty pageant

I have always had tremendous pride in everything I do. If something has my name on it, I go the extra mile (or 10 miles if necessary) to make it excellent. Even the thought of sending an unedited email or a sloppy text message makes me cringe.

Call it pride, call it self-respect. Whatever it is, I was born with it. My dad always tells me about how he and my mom would spy on me in my crib practicing the alphabet or reciting days of the week. But as soon as I knew they were there I’d stop and wouldn’t show them what I was working on. I wanted to make sure I had it right before anyone could see. I did this in my crib.

Naturally I had a similar pride about my appearance. Sadly, women in this country are taught at a young age that we will be judged (harshly) by how we look. I saw it in my own family as my aunts gossiped about each other’s “Pino thighs,” at school where overweight children were teased and tormented, and on TV where thin, beautiful women got all the attention.

Although I could write a book on how despicable this is, it isn’t realistic to believe our value system is going to change anytime soon. Instead, today I want to focus on one of the consequences of this mindset and what we can do to combat the negative impact it has on our behavior.

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For the Love of Food

by | Sep 26, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week sitting less reverses aging, the evil cousin of procrastination, and shocking new data about sugar and dental health.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300 wpm. So neat! It’s been only one week and I’m already up to 400 wpm.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)
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Sugar’s Sweet Spot: How to Eat Less Without Saying No

by | Sep 24, 2014

Photo by pamlau.com

Recently I explained how restrictive dieting makes losing weight harder than it needs to be, not easier. But one reader wondered how my advice about limiting sugar and processed foods jives with this concept:

You say that mainstream diets encourage nutritionism and cut out groups of food like fat, gluten and sugar. However, much of what you discuss also encourages limiting sugar. How do you differentiate the two?

Am I hypocrite or trying to pull a fast one? Is this just a matter of semantics? As usual in biology, the truth is more complicated.

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For the Love of Food

by | Sep 19, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Shockingly good, life-changing reading this week. Learn how to build stronger willpower, no-brain cancer prevention, and the secret to life-long happiness.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300 wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)
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The No.1 Thing That Prevents You from Changing Your Habits

by | Sep 15, 2014

Photo by Steve Rhodes

When I first went to college the last thing I cared about was learning to cook. Neither of my parents had a degree, and by the time I was in middle school it was clear to me that higher education was my only ticket to salvation.

I remember running errands with my mom one afternoon and seeing her bump into an old classmate she knew from high school. “Oh, hi! Wow, I haven’t seen you in 20 years.” They exchanged pleasantries and parted ways. It was obvious the two of them had no real desire to keep up with each other and that they were just being polite for etiquette’s sake. We were all glad when it was over.

The school they both attended was only a few blocks down the street and I knew it would be my fate to go there as well. Class of ’97. Go Vanguards.

Oh shit.

It didn’t take much for my brain to leap forward 24 years and imagine myself in her position, shopping at the same Albertson’s with my own children in tow, casually running into one of the mean kids who called me names and harassed me all year long when I was 14. At the time I couldn’t imagine anything worse.

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Experience Stretching: Why I No Longer Love In-N-Out Burgers

by | Sep 10, 2014

Photo by Peter Fuchs

I grew up in southern California and, like most people there, I thought In-N-Out Burger made the best cheeseburgers in the universe. In-N-Out is legendary in SoCal, and I longed for their iconic burgers and shakes for years after leaving for college.

Even later as a blossoming foodist in my early years of graduate school, I gave In-N-Out the benefit of the doubt among fast food chains because of their commitment to “freshness”, and would occasionally stop there on the long drives home down the I-5.

But as the years went by and my dedication to real, fresh and insanely delicious food continued to develop, I noticed my taste for In-N-Out declined. Today it would take a substantial bribe (think 4-figures) to get me to even consider taking a single bite of a Double Double.

WTF happened?

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