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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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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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7 Reasons Dieting Makes Losing Weight Harder (NOT easier)

by | Sep 8, 2014

Photo by lydia_shiningbrightly

People rarely argue that eating healthier isn’t a good idea. Of course it’s the right thing to do. Duh.

In the backs of their minds, however, people who want to lose weight are often skeptical. I know, because I’ve been there. The argument goes something like,

“Healthy eating is great and all, but I really want to lose this weight as soon as possible. I’ll just do this ___(insert latest diet)___ plan for awhile until I get to my goal weight, then I’ll start with that whole healthy eating thing.”

It sounds like a great plan. Lose the weight quickly, then when you’re happy shift to a more “sensible” eating plan for maintenance.

The only problem is that it doesn’t work.

For people who want to lose weight one of the hardest things to understand is that dieting really, seriously isn’t the answer. Not even for a little while. Dieting isn’t some temporary outfit you can just try on for a few months then discard. Dieting changes you, both physically and psychologically, and it’s not for the better.

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How to Kill Cravings, Reduce Your Appetite and Lose Weight Without a Magic Wand

by | Aug 18, 2014

Photo by charliebarker

Last week I received a comment on an older blog post that really took me off guard. The post was about 9 Simple Tricks to Eat More Mindfully and Kelsey, a recent foodist convert, had one of the strangest problems I’ve ever heard after implementing some of the tips.

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Breaking Bad: How to Kick the Late Night Snacking Habit

by | Jul 16, 2014

Photo by nettsu

Whenever I ask people what the most difficult habit is for them to break, late night snacking is often the first thing they say. This doesn’t surprise me.

If you feel like a zombie every night when you get home from work, it’s because you pretty much are one. Even if you enjoy your job, you are still subject to countless stressors throughout the day that deplete your cognitive resources––especially those required for self-control. Without a well of willpower to rely on at the end of the day, our brains go into autopilot to avoid more heavy lifting.

For these reasons, more than at any other time of day our evening actions are guided by habit. All the cues and triggers around our home––the TV, computer, couch, etc.––guide us mindlessly to the pantry for the cookies, or the freezer for the ice cream, and we eat to our heart’s content (not our mind’s or stomach’s content, those guys stopped caring hours ago). Stopping doesn’t even occur to us. We just continue until the cookies are gone, or the carton is empty.

It makes sense that these late night eating habits are particularly difficult to kick. Bad food habits are hard to break as is, but at night we have even less self-control than at other times of day for reshaping them, so we usually don’t even try. These habits are also especially strong, since they are deeply entrenched through weeks, months and years of repetition.

So what should we do?

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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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7 Reasons Keeping a Food Journal is Better Than Counting Calories

by | Jun 16, 2014

Photo by Paul Papadimitriou

I’m often asked why I don’t put more emphasis on calories and calorie counting, particularly for people trying to lose weight. The answer is that while I think there is great value in understanding and monitoring the types and amounts of foods that you eat––especially if you’ve never paid attention––your effort is much better spent keeping a food journal than on an endless race between your mouth and the treadmill.

The idea behind calorie counting is that you write down the calories in everything you eat and make sure it stays below a certain number each day. If you want to take it even further you can monitor the calories you burn during exercise as well, and factor that into your daily allowance. In theory it helps to know your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories your body naturally burns if you sit around and do nothing all day––this is your baseline), but that involves an expensive test in which you breathe through a tube for 15 minutes. I’ve done it, it isn’t fun.

Food journaling also requires writing down everything you eat, but emphasizes portion sizes (e.g. ounces, grams, etc.) instead of calories. It can also include information like the time of day you eat, other activities related to eating (e.g. working out, watching TV, etc.), and how you feel after eating. In Foodist I recommend keeping a food journal for at least two weeks to build awareness of what, why, when and how much you eat. The ultimate goal is to help identify the habits (along with their triggers and rewards) that shape your healthstyle. You can then use this information to build on what works and learn from what doesn’t.

While I would never tell anyone to stop counting calories if it works for them, here are seven reasons I think keeping a food journal is more effective for most people.
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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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Focus More on Your Brain and Less on Your Diet if You’re Serious About Losing Weight

by | Mar 31, 2014

Photo by Humphrey King

Weight loss is tricky business. Obviously what you eat has a huge impact on your health and body weight. But anyone who has ever tried to modify their diet for the sake of losing weight knows it isn’t so simple.

Most of us understand intuitively that broccoli is healthier than cookies. We can talk about sugar, fat, gluten and antioxidants all day, but that doesn’t change the fact that cookies taste good and you still want to eat them. Any weight loss plan that simply tells you what to eat and neglects why you make the choices you make is unlikely to help you in the long run.

Nutrition knowledge is important, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. The real secret is understanding your behaviors and motivations at their roots, and using this information to have a meaningful impact on your health. In this sense, good health starts in your brain, not on your plate.

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Is It Celebrating or Emotional Eating?

by | Feb 19, 2014

Photo by King….

Johann Helf has a passion for healthy living and its benefits. He has spent many years of his life making positive changes and likes to share tips with others to help them be successful. As owner of Lotus Blooming Herbs, he sources and enjoys sharing shilajit directly from the Himalayas as well as other high-quality Ayurvedic products.

Is It Celebrating or Emotional Eating?

by Johann Helf

Most people think of emotional eating as a response to stress, depression, or other unpleasant life experiences. But have you ever noticed how much unhealthy eating is related to celebrations?

Birthday cake. Anniversary dinner. Office milestones. Cocktail parties. Even when celebrating personal goals such as exercising regularly, losing weight, eating smarter, or breaking “bad” habits, we often celebrate with food.

It’s easy to forget that happiness and pride are still emotions that can invoke emotional eating.

Don’t get me wrong. Rewarding one’s self is a great way to stay motivated. And the occasional food reward can be good for your future resolve. But too often reaching for high-calorie, low-nutrient gratification can be self-defeating.

Is it really rewarding yourself to sabotage what you worked so hard for?

Try these ideas as alternatives to food rewards. Calorie-free motivation not only keeps you on the right path, but can actually generate more fun and memories:

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