7 Realistic Ways to Be Less Sedentary at Work

by | Jul 7, 2014

Photo by bark

I’ve always considered myself an active person. I joined my first gym at age twelve (my mom lied and told them I was fourteen to get around the age limit––a terrible idea, but that’s another story), and spent my high school years as a ballerina dancing nearly 20 hours per week. In college I stopped dancing but focused more on the gym, then dabbled in tennis, then long-distance running in graduate school.

As an adult I settled into a comfortable routine of working at my desk or lab bench, then spending at least an hour at the gym 5-6 days per week. Most of us would not consider this a sedentary lifestyle, and indeed it is far more active than most Americans. Unfortunately, spending long stretches of time sitting throughout the day is considered sedentary and has been shown to increase metabolic risk and mortality, even in normal weight and otherwise active people. And that meant me. Scary, right?

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9 Tips to Eat Without Guilt This Holiday Weekend

by | Jun 30, 2014

Photo by rushdi13

For many newly minted foodists, the upcoming long holiday weekend will be the first real test of your new anti-dieting healthstyle that embraces real food and enjoyment.

Although it can be a little challenging to get started, switching from a dieter’s mindset to a foodist’s mindset is fairly straightforward when we’re in the comfort of our normal lives. But when confronted with a situation where we have multiple days of sun, fun and celebration, fear of sugar, fat and binges can easily seep in.

Can we really handle all this freedom?

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Foodists

by | May 12, 2014

Photo by 55Laney69

Have you ever searched all over your house for your phone or your keys then realized they were in your pocket (or worse, your hand) the entire time?

Sometimes we are so focused on solving a difficult problem that the simple, obvious solution eludes us. This is how I felt when I discovered the solution to my life-long battle with food and body weight.

Since food caused me so much stress I assumed it was the primary cause of my problems. It took me nearly two decades to realize that since I couldn’t fight it, my only choice was to embrace it.

Now that I’ve spent over six years as a foodist the way I eat and deal with food seems so obviously correct that it feels like commonsense. Still millions of people struggle with these issues daily, searching desperately for a fix that’s right under our noses.

A foodist knows that food is the answer to, not the cause of our health and weight issues. Eating is essential to our survival and our innate drive to do it is too strong to override for long. The solution lies in constructing habits that work with us, not against us, balancing our needs for both health and happiness through food.

While there are many different paths a foodist can take to optimize our healthstyle, the most successful rely on seven core habits that have the biggest impact on our long-term success.

You might notice that none of these depend upon a specific food or nutrient.
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10 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight When You Think You’re Doing Everything Right

by | Apr 28, 2014

Photo by EverJean

Weight loss can sometimes be very elusive, even for a foodist. You already know that dieting will never give you the long term results you want, so you focus on eating real food and going to the gym.

So why are you still overweight?

There could be any number of reasons you aren’t reaching your goals and the best way to troubleshoot is to tackle it like a scientist. Generate a hypothesis, collect data on yourself, and test different solutions until you find what works, because the answer will be slightly different for everyone.

The good news is that there are several common (but easily overlooked) mistakes that may be holding you back. Start here and your issues may resolve more easily than you think.

Whatever you do, resist the temptation to go back to restrictive dieting, which makes it harder––not easier––to achieve your goals.

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For the Love of Food

by | Jan 10, 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 kale is worse than soda, fasting goes mainstream, and you’re still not walking enough.

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. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
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For the Love of Food

by | Dec 6, 2013
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 cavemen actually did eat beans, dairy fat is surprisingly healthy, how God can help you lose weight and so much more. I found an abnormal number of fantastic articles this week, so definitely don’t skip this round.

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. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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For the Love of Food

by | Aug 9, 2013
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 your great-grandma’s bad habits make you less healthy, concerned scientists lay the smackdown on the Farm Bill, and Cookie Monster offers mindful eating advice.

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. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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For the Love of Food

by | Jun 28, 2013
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 how refined carbs trigger cravings, how to make body fat burn extra calories and how not to talk to your kids about weight loss.

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. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

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For The Love Of Food

by | Dec 7, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week how the FDA is killing us softly, rats get fat on calorie-free sweeteners, and why coffee is better than 5-Hour Energy.

Want to see all my favorite links? 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. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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How To Burn More Calories Without Breaking A Sweat

by | Sep 12, 2012

Photo by Rodrigo Rodrigo Rodrigo Rodrigo Rodrigo Rodrigo

It’s amazing to me how easy it is to forget to move.

This year was the first time in about 5 years that I found myself gaining weight. It wasn’t a lot, just 5 lbs over 6 months or so, but it was strange for me since I didn’t think I was doing anything different.

I write and think about healthy living all the time, and I absolutely love the food I eat. I no longer crave sugar, and avoiding it isn’t hard. If anything I have eaten healthier than ever during this time, since I started working at home and control 100% of my meals. I’ve been eating the same or better quality food than I always have, and have even improved on my mindful eating techniques.

So what gives?

I didn’t think the problem was exercise, since I still go to the gym 4-6 days a week. My workouts have actually gotten better, and I’ve noticed welcome improvements in several aspects of my physique (thank you kettlebell!). I wasn’t upset about how I looked, I had just gotten slightly larger and didn’t know why.

Then about 6 weeks ago I figured it out: I had stopped walking.

When I was still in my PhD program I had a substantial walk to work, at least a mile each way if I took the campus shuttle, and about 2.5 miles each way if I walked the whole distance (I did this rarely, but tried to squeeze it in when I could). I also worked in the lab, running back and forth between rooms and up and down stairs to get equipment. Though I came home each evening and worked on Summer Tomato until the wee hours of the morning, I was not sedentary.

Even during my brief stint in the corporate world after graduation I had a walking commute to work. But after I quit in January I just stayed at home writing. At first I had a standing desk/table I was using, but logistics and a problematic elbow forced me to move to the coffee shop across the street where most of my work gets done now. This sedentary shift correlates exactly with when I noticed my pants getting tighter.

What’s crazy to me is that this amount of exercise seems so inconsequential it doesn’t even register in my brain until months after the change has occurred (did I mention I was still working out almost every day?). And it’s not like I never think about this stuff, I noticed when I first started walking that I effortlessly dropped weight. How could I forget that non-exercise activity (NEAT) is so important?

It’s easy to forget, but this is good news. It means that it is not a chore to burn more calories—in fact, you will hardly notice. All you need to do is make an effort to be a little more active throughout the day, and work to build more activity into your daily routine.

To solve my problem, I turned to my puppy Toaster. He needs to get out and walk a few times a day, so I thought why not improve both of our lives by making a daily pilgrimage to the bigger, better park that’s about a mile from the house instead of the smaller, dirtier park that is closer and more convenient? He gets more exercise and behaves better, I get my walk in, and we both have more fun. Win-win.

I’m happy to report that my pants are fitting better again and I’m back down to my normal weight.

If you don’t have a dog, there are plenty of other ways to move more. Avoid elevators and escalators, walk to lunch or between floors in your building, do chores more enthusiastically at home and park further away in the parking lot. Just standing up more can make a difference. These things add minuscule amounts of time to your tasks but add up significantly for your health.

Unlike structured, high-intensity exercise, walking and other low-intensity movements don’t make you hungrier. There’s good evidence that increasing your daily activity can burn hundreds of extra calories each day and may be one of the most effective ways to impact your energy balance (i.e. burn more without eating more). This is not true of more formal exercise, which tends to make people hungrier. Importantly, non-exercise activity correlates with body weight in obese as well as normal weight individuals, so everyone can benefit from extra movement.

Even if you already work out regularly you should still strive for additional daily activity. Amazingly, high-intensity exercise doesn’t lower your inclination toward NEAT, but raises it. In one study, scientists measured NEAT 3 days before and 3 days after overweight individuals performed either moderate or high-intensity exercise. There was no measurable change in NEAT until the third day after exercise, when it increased 17% after moderate activity and 25% after intense activity. That’s impressive.

When you’re as busy as I am, it’s easy to make excuses about why extra effort is impossible. But adding a little extra movement to your normal, daily activities is far and away the easiest way to lose weight and improve your health, so why not?

I’ve also found a substantial meditative value in incorporating more physical activity. Several of my most complex problems have been solved during my walks and I’ve been plowing through podcasts and audiobooks, which I swear makes me smarter (I’m currently loving The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore). Your brain truly appreciates a break from the screen.

Ironically, it took noticing that I was “reading” less to make me examine what was different in my life—I realized I was listening to fewer audiobooks because I was walking less, and put 2 and 2 together. Problem solved.

It’s easy to be lazy and just wait for the elevator with everyone else, even though you know the time it saves you is insignificant. But today I hope I’ve convinced you that it’s worth resisting that urge and making an effort to be more active. Try making it a game or competing with your friends using pedometers like the FitBit for extra motivation.

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Originally published September 12, 2011.


 

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