Breakfast – MY favorite meal of the day

You need to start your day right by boosting your metabolism with a solid breakfast. Typical breakfasts are carb-laden and protein deficient. I am guilty of this, as I LOVE pancakes! To help you out with that I’ve got a gift for you from me and my buddies over at Prograde Nutrition. It’s a delicious Protein Pancakes recipe. 

Thanks to the protein in the recipe your blood sugar won’t go crazy like it can just by eating a huge stack of pancakes with sugary syrup. Nope, this recipe will fill you up, nourish your body, and give your metabolism just the boost it needs.

Go get the Protein Pancakes recipe!

Be sure to let me know how you like it.

PS – Seriously, have a nutritious breakfast and your body will thank you for it ALL DAY!

http://betterbybecca.getprograde.com/prograde-pancake-recipe.html

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Hooray! A heart rate story

I have a new heart rate monitor thanks to a dear friend who surrendered his to me. He was not using it and I suspect the heart rate monitor was becoming sad. I pray that I do not kill this one as I did my other (although I do think that it is inevitable). I remembered to wear it 4 of the first 7 days it was in my possession. I remembered to start it 3 of those 4 days. For the girl who once could not workout without one, I sure have not been very good about using this new one.

My heart rate does not get as high as it used to. I am older than I used to be, which could be one factor. And I believe that I do not push myself as hard as I used to – I do not have my maniac workout friends to cultivate the competitive culture I was once engulfed in. And having worked out without the monitor for so long, I know my level of intensity decreased and I need to become comfortable with getting uncomfortable again. I also suspect that I may have increased my cardiac fitness – but this is anecdotal and unverified. IMG_0898

A day in the life of my nutrition

Individuals are constantly asking me: how do you do it? How do you stay motivated? How do you stay so thin (I am not thin, by the way)? How do you find the time? My response, I do not know, but I sure know it is not easy. Like many of you, I used to work in an office and I sat ALL DAY. My coworkers loved donuts and McDonald’s. Saying no the first time was the hardest. The second and third, still hard. Twentieth time, yes still hard. That is why it is important to have set goals and to stay focused on achieving those goals.

 A typical day

For one reason or another, people think I do not eat. Not true. Then I must eat nothing but salads! Not true. People also think that I don’t sleep. True. Let me give you a taste of my preferred weekday:

4:30 am Alarm goes off. Hit the snooze.
4:39 Alarm goes off. Get up. Start drinking protein shake.
5:30 Workout—Mon, Wed, & Fri strength, Tues & Thur cardio
6:30 Finish protein shake
7:30 Breakfast—4-6 egg whites and 1 cup oatmeal with 2 tablespoons walnuts and ¼ cup berries (and/or half a banana).
8:00 Coffee—black
10:30 Snack—plain Greek yogurt and homemade granola.
1:00 pm Lunch—Chicken breast and veggies. LOTS of veggies.
1:30 Coffee—black
4:00 Snack—Small apple and 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter.
4:30 Train/Teach fitness classes
7:30 Dinner—chicken, fish, or shrimp and steamed veggies (sometimes couscous or quinua)
8:00 Homemade trail mix, almonds & grapes, or natural ice cream

NOTE: I am weening off all protein supplements, therefore my morning shake will be swapped out with something to be determined. I also incorporate a GI rotation into my week, but I want to keep this simple. Just know, this is not conclusive. I hope to share more specifics in future posts.

My nutritional guidelines 

A frequent meal: eggs, ham, zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms with a little cheese.

A frequent meal: eggs, ham, zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms with a little cheese.

There are a few guidelines that I live by. I know I am a bit extreme, but here you go:

  1. Don’t drink calories. Only water and dirty water (aka coffee).
  2. Eat protein and veggies at every meal.
  3. Don’t eat anything that has high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.
  4. Stick to foods with 5 ingredients or less.
  5. No condiments. Load a sandwich with veggies and you won’t miss the mayo!
  6. No fried foods.
  7. Avoid any food that has a commercial.
  8. Eat when I am hungry.
  9. 90%+ of my food is refrigerated or frozen.
  10. NEVER consume alcohol the day before a workout.

Do not get me wrong, I indulge here and there. But, I generally stick to the guidelines. See number 10? I workout 6 days a week, so my alcohol consumption is quite limited. But remember that alcohol is poison to the body – and alcohol is a sugar that is very slowly metabolized. Alcohol intake significantly diminishes the quality of my workout.

I also generally avoid gluten.

It is never easy

Clients have asked if I have always been like this. First, I have to ask them what this means. Fit? No. Disciplined? No. I am from Wisconsin – I used to drink like the best of them. My favorite consumables are beer, cheese, and bratwursts. While it never gets easier (neither the workouts nor the food), I have become better at it. And so can you!

It helps that I do not like bread, potatoes, and corn. Corn is the the most worthless vegetable – avoid it. The limited nutritional value is not worth the consumption.

The bottomline

1. Eat REAL FOOD. The best way to do this is to shop the perimeter of the store.

2. You need to find what works for you. Every human body has its own dietary needs (unfortunately). But the chances are if it is called a diet it will not work. Fat free, reduced fat, no trans fat, zero calories, low carb – all gimmicks.

Read my previous posts on how many calories you should eat and meal & snack creation made easy for more information.

Finding more on a weight loss journey

A dear friend shares her journey and her heart.

To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. 
If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now. – Alan Cohen

Often times, when we discuss love, it is in relation to our connections with others.  We give love anthropomorphic tendencies, describing its ability to create harmony, whether through our own personal connections or a universal exchange (that links all persons in a global community).  Discussions regarding self-love are relegated to conversations relating its pertinence in the face of limited self-worth.  The implicit necessity of loving one’s self is paramount in establishing worthwhile connections with others. 

Since this blog is about health & fitness, I will tailor this entry, relating self-love to my weight loss journey.   

Last summer I began a journey towards health & fitness, though my immediate goal revolved around losing a tremendous amount of excess weight, my exigent goal was to learn to love myself.  My excess weight was a reflection of my inner turmoil, my struggle to find acceptance (a struggle I presumed to be externally founded…. thereby, extrinsically resolved).  I assumed that loving myself would be a natural effect of changing the way I looked physically.  By changing my appearance, I would become more acceptable to others, allowing me to become more acceptable to myself.  This change would provide an avenue for me to establish connections with others (at that point I was socially isolated, spending tremendous amounts of time alone with limited social interactions) and increase my self-efficacy (believing I could accomplish the many goals I had set for myself).  To a degree these presumptions were accurate.  I have changed the way I look, I am more appealing to others and have a greater sense of comfort in my physique, but that has not translated itself into increased self-worth. 

There is still a sense of lacking and deficiency.  As I strive towards attaining what I believe to be the “perfect body” (for myself), I constantly have to face the impact of my limited self-worth. I am faced with the unhealthy habits I’ve developed, as I strive to love myself . . .. having formerly “loved” myself with food.  I developed a reliance on food to cope.  In the absence of self-acceptance and social relationships, food became an ally.  In losing weight, the foods I formerly relied on for comfort have become an enemy.  They no longer provide me with the same semblance of peace or “happiness”.  I have come to realize that my perception of myself is highly correlated to all of my struggles, I have to resolve my intrinsic feelings of worth, so that I may find the acceptance I long for.  The lack of connectedness I feel with others is greatly attributed to the lack of connection I feel with myself.  Changing my physiognomy has not changed the pertinence of answering these issues. 

photo (15)

I have to learn to love myself, to be comfortable in my own skin, to appreciate who I am.  I have to become whole.  I have to learn to live, because I’m tired of feeling dead to myself . . .. not knowing or appreciating the characteristics that make me a worthwhile individual.  It’s exciting, this concept of self-discovery.  But this undertaking is by no means easy.  This process has been laden with valleys and peaks.  It requires changing my mind, literally.  Reframing thoughts, addressing hurts, and examining fears.  Exchanging unhealthy behaviors that were once associated with loving myself for behaviors that truly reflect love for myself.  In doing so, I am hoping to experience the tranquility that comes with loving one’s self.  Partaking in the ubiquity of love, as it connects me to those I care for. 

I am grateful for those who are willing to love me along the way, as I learn to love myself.

What has your journey shown you that you did not expect?

AWESOME wellness App – Recovery Record

I put a lot of time and energy into reading weight loss and fitness self-help books, using health and fitness Apps, and – of course – reading scholarly research. This is rarely specifically to expand my personal knowledge but for the benefit of my clients. I want tools in my box to offer my clients as a means of teaching them independence. I want to empower! Finding quality tools has proven difficult! The multi-million dollar industry is filled with a lot of, for lack of a better term, JUNK.

Therefore I have resorted to a lot of “use this, BUT” referrals. For example, I suggest that a client use MyFitnessPal as a food diary but I advise against tracking physical activity and exercise in the App. This follows with a disclosure of the risks of working for the calories that the App claims to you earn. Most calorie expenditure methods are frustratingly inaccurate.

BUT, I have found an App for my iPhone that I absolutely LOVE for self monitoring. (Keep in mind, that I am not a huge fan of Apps and I tend to gravitate towards a pen and paper when it comes to things like journaling, maintaining workouts records, and food recording.)

Background

In the process of my own self-improvement, no one App seemed to meet my needs. I found I would need to use 4, 5, or even more Apps in order to track everything that I wanted to track. This was not efficacious nor efficient. Further, it did not allow me to compare them all and I was looking for correlations. One of the most critical things for me to track has been my pain – how do my activity level, activity choices, and nutrition correlate with my pain. Is there a weather association? Mood? How do these all interact? I compiled my own worksheet for self-monitoring to meet my needs.

self monitoring

THE RECOVERY RECORD

I am excited to share that I recently discovered the Recovery Record App. It looks to me like someone beat me at my own game – this is my worksheet in an App! Initially designed for use as eating disorder therapy homework – do NOT let this deter you! With Recovery Record you can track:

  • Meals and snacks (e.g., what, where, when)
  • Emotions
  • Motivation
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Accountability
  • Goals & Achievements
  • Hope
  • Pain
  • Thoughts & Feelings
  • Eating behaviors (e.g., bingeing, desire to binge, dietary restriction)
  • Hunger
  • Physiological/Somatic symptoms

Fully customizable, you can establish reminders and rewards, find accountability partners, and share your information with others (e.g., dietitian, physician, counselor, family). While you can track disordered eating behaviors, you can also disable that tracking – along with any other logs you may not want to keep.

You also have the option of logging in via your computer, which I prefer if I want to add a lengthy note or track a significant amount of food.

Stop calorie counting

One of my favorite things about this App is that there is no built-in calorie counting. I discourage calorie counting and encourage mindful eating – and tracking everything that you put into your mouth is just as effective – if not more effective – than counting calories (Cooper, Fairburn, Hawker, 2003; Fairburn 2008).

Reminders

How often do we use the excuse, “I forgot!”? The reminders in this App are useful without being annoying. The App will nudge you to record your meals, but you are free to go back and record information later as well. the best part, you can disable the reminders you do not want.

The bottomline

This App will help you improve and monitor whole-body awareness. This is an App that will EMPOWER you. We know that how and what we eat and exercise are correlated with thoughts and feelings. How about where and when you eat? If you suffer from chronic pain or illness – do you eat more or are you restrictive during times of suffering? Do you avoid exercise? Once you are aware – you can work to change where you may see a need to change. And you can share this information with nearly anyone you choose!

And no, the developer is not paying me to endorse the product – she (they) do not even know that I exist. But they will soon! Kudos to developer Jenna Tregarthen – she may have made it to the list of individuals I want to meet in my lifetime.

References

Cooper, Z., Fairburn, C. G., & Hawker, D. M. (2003). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Obesity: A Clinician’s Guide. New York: The Guilford Press.

Fairburn, C. G. (2008). Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Eating Disorders. New York: The Guilford Press.

Hays, K. F. (1995). Putting sport psychology into (your) practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 26(1), 33-40.

Why do I sweat so much?

I want to keep this post simple.

I am an excessive sweater. I breathe and I sweat. I turn my head and I sweat. This may be an exaggeration! But one of my favorite lines, “I come from a family of sweaters – not the knitted kind.” Because I am an excessive sweater, I often wonder why others do not sweat. A few facts about sweat:

  • Our sweat threshold changes naturally with age.
  • Sweat rates have a hereditary influence (hence, I come from a family of sweaters).
  • The more fit you are, the more you will sweat.
  • Men sweat more than woman.

Purpose of sweat

Sweat is a means by which our body cools itself and keeps itself from overheating – or thermoregulation. This is why you tend to sweat more when the outside temperature is warmer.

Because sweat thresholds are highly individual, sweat is NOT a good indicator of a good workout. Some people will sweat more than others – simply due to difference in internal temperatures, genetics, physiological responses, or metabolic rates.

Sweat and exercise

For most of us, sweating is one of the major decisive factors that make us feel that we have worked hard and achieved the day’s fitness goals. And it is true, sweating is one of the major determinants of increased fitness levels. But is is indicative of a good workout?

Take me as an example. Again, I sweat a lot. I have been known to look like I just came out of the shower following an intense workout. At the same time, I sweat VERY little when I working on hypertrophy (muscle building) or absolute strength. If I measured the quality of these workouts based on my sweat rate, I would have to assume that these workouts were ineffective. In comparison, ask me to run and I begin sweating within minutes. My body is cooling itself off. My body is effectively and efficiently doing its job!

You might ask, what if I rarely sweat – should I be concerned? You should be honest with yourself during exercise and ask if you are working with enough intensity. If so, great! If you do not exhibit any other symptoms of dehydration, I would not worry.

NOTE: If you are typically a sweater and you find that you are not, this could be a sign of dehydration! Drink more water.

Fitness level

When the water in sweat evaporates on your skin, it cools down your body, which is the whole purpose of sweat—to prevent overheating. Athletes sweat more than the average person because their bodies have become efficient at keeping cool by increasing the amount they sweat. Research has found that the core body temperature in unfit women, who perspired the least, had to rise significantly more for them to sweat at maximum capacity.

The fitter you are = the more you will sweat.

Changes in sweat rate

As previously mentioned, it is normal to see changes in sweat rates. For example, children do not sweat much until puberty – when you may see a huge increase in sweat. Further, pregnant women may sweat more, as do some women going through menopause. What do all of these individuals have in common? Hormone shifts. Similarly, changes in fitness levels coexist with changes in hormones (weight management is actual controlled at the hormonal level). Changes in sweat rates are perfectly normal and should honestly be anticipated.

Detoxification

Ever notice that you sweat more the night after eating out or a night with adult beverages? Your body is cleansing itself of toxins! A less pronounced purpose to sweating is to help shed the body of waste that occurs as a natural byproduct of cell metabolism. There is some truth to the saying, “sweating is out.”

The bottomline

Not everyone will sweat excessively. For those of us who do, we may be jealous of those who do not – and vice versa. But do not use the  occurrence of sweat – nor lack there of – to judge the quality of your workout.

Lastly, I know many individuals despise sweat and I encourage you to embrace sweat. Sweat is healthy. AND – sweat is sexy because sweat makes sexy people!

HELP! Can’t stop thinking about food?

Our culture is obsessed with food. The taste of food. The quantity of food. When we invite guests into our homes, we offer food. Most guests even expect food! Companies promote team building with ‘pig out’ days. You can buy food anywhere and everywhere. There’s food when you go to church, the bank, for an oil change, and even at most gyms. How can you not think about food?

Having suffered through seasons of obsessive thoughts and disordered eating behaviors, I know what it is like to think about food nonstop. As a health and fitness professional – I have tested every diet and meal plan I have ever asked a client to use. Restrictive diets (such as no carb) elicited the most time spent thinking about food – I was ALWAYS hungry! Periods of depression also elicited food thoughts – for food was my quick and easy comfort.

The media’s role

The average person watches 5 hours of television a day – bombarded by food advertising (sad!). Approximately 40-50% of television commercials are for food products, or 10 to 15 commercials every hour. 90% of these are for junk foods (Kaiser Family Foundation). We are exposed to 50 to 75 food commercials each and every day! And we cannot point the finger at just one group. Advertising comes from all levels in the food chain – issued by manufacturers individually or as a group, by a marketing board representing a generic product, and by wholesalers, retailers, and distributors. (Unfortunately, you rarely see a commercial for real food).

Further, most food advertising is targeted at women, the main buyers of food in the household. As children are recognized as important persuaders, they are also targeted. Food advertising does reflect changing food tastes, diet, and dietary habits. The extent of the references to nutrition, health claims, and weight loss has increased in recent decades. Research has indicated that there was an increase in references to health and weight loss in advertisements for hot and cold cereals, bread and cake mixes, frozen and pre-prepared entrees, peanut butter, canned and instant dry soup, and carbonated beverages. Regardless of the product – what is the obsession? More and more products are supposedly better for you – more protein, more fiber, and simply more to think about!

Your relationship with food

It is normal to think about food, but excessive thoughts could indicate a problem.  How much time do you spend thinking about food and weight? Reiff and Reiff (1998) found that

  • Individuals with a normal or healthy relationship with food thought about food 10-20% of the time.
  • Individuals who were dieting or with disturbed eating reported thinking about food 20-65% of the time.
  • Individuals with a clinically diagnosed eating disorder reported thinking about food 70-110% of the time! How can you think about food more than 100% of the time? You dream about it – – –

Talking about and thinking about food and weight has become an accepted part of our culture.  We surround ourselves with food. Being social = having food. I would go as far as to say that we love ourselves with food. What does that then mean about our culture’s relationship with food?  In any eating disorder treatment program normal and accepted table conversations are taught.  Inappropriate topics, such as those focused on food and weight, are redirected and not allowed. Further, lingering around the table or kitchen is not allowed.

Misplaced focus

We have become so focused on weight that we completely forget about health and the fact that health and weight are not synonymous – you do not have to be thin to be healthy.  When you allow yourself to become overly hungry, you are setting yourself up for a binge later. When you are hungry, you think about food because you want the feeling to dissipate. The marketing and advertising also has us so confused about what is good for us – or better for us than anything else is – that we are forced to think before making what should be a simple decision (e.g., real food).

In addition, being healthy does not mean that you necessarily have a healthy relationship with food.  I am recovered from a season of nearly 3 years of an unhealthy relationship with food – all the while a healthy individual. A healthy relationship with food is one that includes balance, variety, and moderation. It allows freedom and flexibility with your food choices.  It honors your hunger and fullness cues – you eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. No anxiety, stress, or attention focused on food or your body.

Strategies to thought reduction

  1. Eat often. One key to avoid thinking about food is to avoid hunger. By eating every 2-3 hours, you maintain healthy balances and you are less likely to think about food, what or when you will eat next, etc.
  2. Planning. The best strategy is to have a plan. Use Sundays to plan out your meals and snacks for the week. If you can, prepare as many as possible. This reduces the frequency of thoughts by eliminating questions like “what will I eat?”
  3. Rules and guidelines. I thrive on rules. You may thrive on having guidelines – which can be perceived as being more flexible. For example, I will not go to the grocery store for only one item. And I keep all food behind a door (see#6).
  4. Control your senses of taste and smell. The aroma of food can trigger a powerful urge to eat – even if you are not hungry. Pop a mint, hard candy, or cough drop into your mouth. It will overwhelm your taste buds and blot out other scents, ending the food craving almost immediately.
  5. Everything in moderation. What do you crave? A healthy relationship with food means that nothing is off limits. Telling yourself that you cannot eat something just increases thoughts about it. I love ice cream – so I allow myself a small amounts of ice cream on a semi-regular basis.
  6. Are you hungry or bored? Individuals tend to gain the most weight when they have the least amount to do. So, when you are tempted to munch, replace the boredom-induced food thoughts and mindless munching with a purposeful activity such as running an errand or calling a friend.
  7. Keep food out of sight. Food kept on the counter in a clear glass jar gets eaten quickly – – –  that same food stored in the pantry lasts much longer. Likewise, foods placed at eye level in the front of the fridge will seem to call your name—so put your fresh produce there!photo (7)

The bottomline

If you are dieting and you cannot stop thinking about food, then it is not the right diet for you. (Not that I encourage dieting at all.) If thoughts of food are disrupting your life – then maybe it is time that we chat!

References

Reiff, D. & Reiff, K . (1998)  Time Spent Thinking About Food, Healthy Weight Journal;  p. 84.

Greek yogurt – A healthy choice?

I wish that false and/or misleading advertising was illegal. Further, I wish that only real and natural foods were available to us – it would solve a lot of our problems and ease the food consumption decision-making process. Instead, companies work to make food products better for you and tell you (overtly and covertly) that you are making a good decision for yourself and your family if you chose to consume their product. Healthy chips. Healthy crackers. Healthier yogurt.

Greek yogurt unveiled

If you watch TV, you have seen the commercial. Oikos Greek Yogurt. You know – the commercials with John Stamos! They advertise that by choosing Oikos Fruit on the Bottom Nonfat Greek Yogurt you are making a nutritionally sound choice. Are you? The advertisements insinuate that you will lose weight if you eat Greek yogurt rather than traditional yogurt.

Here are the Nutrition Facts for the Black Cherry flavor. No fat — hooray! 5 mg cholesterol — hooray! 12 g protein — hooray! TWENTY GRAMS of SUGAR — WHOA!! For anyone desiring to lose weight (i.e., fat), this should scream DANGER! Slow down!!

Further, they only list 5 vitamins and minerals. And all yogurts contain active cultures (sorry, Activia!)

Breaking down the facts

“The sugar is natural, from the fruit,” you say? Let me explore. A single serving container does not contain a full fruit serving. One serving of black cherries is one cup and boasts 22 grams of sugar. Knowing that the little blue cup cannot contain nearly a serving of real black cherries – where do those sugar grams come from? Ingredients four and five: sugar and fructose (sugar). Number six, modified corn starch, might as well be a sugar too. Guar Gum. Interesting.

Experts generally accept that the human body can process 2-3 teaspoons of sugar at one time, or per sitting. NOTE: processed sugars are dramatically more difficult for the body to process than natural sugars (i.e., straight from the source). 20 grams of sugar converts to 4 teaspoons. What happens to the other 2 teaspoons of sugar you have consumed? With proper nutritional timing, your body may use it to fuel your long run or intense physical activity. But the chances are that many individuals are eating yogurt as a snack while sitting at the work desk. Am I wrong? Before I get too distracted, what happens with the excess sugar? Your body converts excess sugar into fat. In other words, you have yourself a fattening, fat-free treat!

Still believe this is a sound nutritional snack? Sure, it is a BETTER choice.

A Greek yogurt proponent

Do not get me wrong. I LOVE Greek yogurt and have been eating it for years – since before it became cool and popular and companies started adding all the wonderful extras to make it more appealing. I buy plain 0-2% Greek yogurt (depends on the use). The less fat in a dairy product, the more processing and additives are required. Compare: 

I make my Greek yogurt more palatable by adding my own natural and good-for-me ingredients:

  • natural, local honey
  • peanut butter (peanuts as only ingredient)
  • raisins
  • fresh berries
  • homemade granola
  • and more!

Recommended daily sugar intake

I want to mention that eating one serving of this yogurt will fulfill 50-66% of the recommended daily sugar intake. The World Health Organization recommends that 10% percent of your total calories come from sugars. I have done the math for you:

1200 calories, 10% = 120 calories = 30 g of sugar
1300 calories, 10% = 130 calories = 32.5 g of sugar
1400 calories, 10% = 140 calories = 35 g of sugar
1500 calories, 10% = 150 calories = 37.5 g of sugar
1600 calories, 10% = 160 calories = 40 g of sugar
1700 calories, 10% = 170 calories = 42.5 g of sugar
1800 calories, 10% = 180 calories = 45 g of sugar
1900 calories, 10% = 190 calories = 47.5 g of sugar
2000 calories, 10% = 200 calories = 50 g of sugar
2100 calories, 10% = 210 calories = 52.5 g of sugar
2200 calories, 10% = 220 calories = 55 g of sugar
2300 calories, 10% = 230 calories = 57.5 g of sugar
2400 calories, 10% = 240 calories = 60 g of sugar

Better than traditional yogurt?

That is debatable. Greek yogurt contains more protein and fewer total carbohydrates. Traditional yogurt contains more calcium and adequate protein. A question to ask yourself, are you consuming yogurt as a protein product or as a dairy product? Which has the great benefit for you? Overall, traditional yogurt may still the healthier option of the two.

The bottomline…

EAT. PLAIN. YOGURT.

No, this does not include vanilla (natural or not) yogurt.

Is Oikos Fruit on the Bottom Nonfat Greek Yogurt bad for you? No, not at all. Is it a healthful decision? Eh – I wouldn’t say that and it relates to my concerns surrounding the use of the terms healthy or healthful!

It is a BETTER decision.

Greek yogurt versus traditional yogurt? It depends on your individual dietary needs – I alternate and sometimes mix the two because additional benefits of traditional yogurt.

MYTH – If you are skinny, you are healthy

You know your friend, the one who is skinny as a twig, but lives on candy, chips, and ice cream? And to add fuel to that envious fire burning inside you, she does not exercise – unless of course carrying laundry down the stairs counts as exercise to you, but it does not in my book.

Now ask yourself, do you consider her healthy?

I have news for you: Simply being thin is not akin to being healthy. There is such a thing as being skinny-fat. Being skinny-fat is about much more than physical appearance. In fact, your dress size has absolutely nothing on the much bigger issue – YOUR HEALTH. In many cases, the skinnier you get, the more you’re actually at risk for health problems! Low body weight could mean someone has low lean muscle mass.  And low muscle mass and high body fat percentage has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer.

We live in a culture obsessed with weight, but there is a difference between being thin and being healthy. That difference lies in body composition.

What is body composition?

Most medical offices and health insurance companies use Body Mass Index (BMI) to measure body composition – because it is easy. Unfortunately, easy and accurate are not the same. According to BMI, most of my colleagues and I are classified as overweight to morbidly obese. So what does that have to say about health and fitness professionals? BMI does not account for lean mass!

Body composition is a measure of lean and fatty tissues. A healthy body composition is determined by the percentage of body fat versus lean muscle mass. Ideally, you want your body fat percentage low and lean muscle mass percentage high. An altered body composition arises when the percentage of body fat is too high. The ACSM recommends adult men to have between 10-22% body fat, while women should have between 20-32% body fat.

Being overweight is often used synonymously with an altered body composition; however, excess body weight is not a definitive assessment for altered body composition. Just as thin is not synonymous with fit and healthy. Extreme athletes or weight lifters can have a body weight that is considered outside of a healthy reference range (BMI), but their body compositions may be optimal due to the high amount of lean muscle. Muscle actually weighs more than fat. That’s easy to forget sometimes! This is one reason stepping on the scale can be so frustrating and why it’s important to get measurements taken every four weeks.

The best advice I can give: Judge your progress by how your clothes fit and feel, not by the number on the scale. This is how I typically do it and I tend to avoid the scale.

How can you improve your body composition?

Certain weight loss programs can actually be harmful and counterproductive to improving body composition. In some cases, weight loss programs result in excessive loss of muscle along with fat. Why? Because our energy reserves are in our muscles. An example of such a program is The Biggest Loser.

When we deprive our bodies of energy (e.g., restrictive dieting), we force our bodies to dive into those energy reserves.  It’s far more important to focus on FAT LOSS. Studies have found that the most successful way to slow the aging process is to maintain a healthy muscle mass along with eating a balanced, low-calorie diet. And unfortunately, maintaining muscle mass as we age is difficult because we naturally lose muscle—unless we work to keep it.

  1. Losing weight does not mean you have a healthy heart. On the other hand, getting fit and eating a healthy diet can dramatically improve heart health.
  2. Losing weight alone does not lower your cholesterol, but regular exercise and healthy eating will.
  3. Simply losing weight is not going to lower your risk of contracting certain types of cancers, but regular exercise and mindful eating can.
  4. Losing weight cannot prevent osteoporosis, boost your immune system, lead to healthier pregnancies and childbirth, improve your physical performance, or prevent the loss of muscle. However, by adopting a regular exercise routine and a healthy eating plan, you can!

So what does this mean? Losing weight is not the important part of getting healthy. The important things to consider are healthy eating, regular exercise, and generally taking care of yourself! Skinny-fat or fat-fat your #1 priority should be to adopt a healthy lifestyle and get fit for life!