Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I love what Charles Swindoll wrote many years ago:   
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past.  We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you.  We are in charge of our attitudes.       ________________________________________

Today, make your attitude a positive one toward yourself, your health and your life. You are worth it!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why Do I Lose Weight Faster On Low Carb Diets?

A question came in from a reader: "Why do I lose weight so much faster on Atkins?  It seems to work better for me right away, and then it doesn't work as well and I stop losing as much. It's frustrating."

Great observation.  On diets like Atkins, you consume very low amounts of carbohydrates (see blog post 8/25/10.) The key to your quicker initial weight loss is the water loss you first experience...

Your body stores energy in three basic places. When your body needs energy, the easiest place to get it is in the blood where it is stored as a simple carbohydrate, or sugar:  blood glucose.  This is kind of like carrying cash around with you.  It's easy, quick, and everyone takes it as a form of payment.  Every cell in your body needs a constant supply of energy, and glucose supplies the quickest, easiest form to use.

The second place your body stores energy is glycogen, which is found in muscles and in the liver. Glycogen is a carbohydrate that is stored with over 2 1/2 times its weight in water.  The only way to fill these stores is to consume carbs.  You cannot fill glycogen by eating protein or fat. Carbo loading is what athletes do to maximize their glycogen stores.  Glycogen is like the money you keep in your checking account; not cash, but readily accessed by ATM or check. Your body will use glycogen and convert it to glucose as your blood glucose diminishes---a great overdraft protection plan, which helps provide constant energy.

Your third energy store is in body fat.  It's a highly condensed form of energy that acts like your savings account.  It's harder to access this account for cash.  Body fat is harder to utilize as immediate fuel, but will be accessed if blood glucose and glycogen stores are not sufficient and your body needs energy.

On a very low carb diet, your glycogen reserves become depleted. As each gram of carb gets used up, over 2 1/2 grams of water are released. Think of this as the "liquid assets" in your checking account, so to speak. The water that is released provides a big part of the initial weight loss on the scales.  Once these reserves are diminished, and no more carbs are coming in, that part of the weight loss stops. At that point, weight loss tends to be similar other diets of similar calorie content: a higher percentage of the weight loss is likely body fat.

If a person has been on a low carb diet for awhile and depleted their glycogen stores and then goes back to eating higher carb foods, they will experience a quick weight gain.  Even a few slices of bread will trigger the body to reload the glycogen stores, putting back those carb units along with the water they require. Results?  The scales go up.  This can really mess up your head if you step on the scales every day.  Remember, the scales are not just measuring body fat.

I hope this helps!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Low Carb Intake Equals Low Energy Output

I hadn't seen her for awhile.  She was 15 or 20 pounds thinner and her face looked so tired and drawn. Even her coloring was a little off.  I asked her how she was holding up, and she replied "fine, just very tired." She was getting ready for a wedding in her family.  I immediately suspected she may be on a low carb diet...

Very low carb diets like the Atkin's program are still quite popular.  Yes, you can lose weight quickly for awhile,  and some people swear by them and follow them to the extreme. I am not a fan.

Carbs are one of the 3 macronutrients that supply energy to our bodies along with protein and fat. All three are vital to our health.  You should never go on any diet that eliminates an entire macronutrient group. Carbs provide quick energy and are our body's preferred "go-to" fuel.

If you choose to avoid carbohydrates, what happens?
  • Lower energy level. Without the quick energy supply of carbohydrates, it's hard for your body to keep a good, steady blood glucose level. (Glucose is a simple carb, a.k.a. sugar.)
  • Increased fatigue.
  • Brain function is often described as sluggish/not as clear thinking. Glucose is the only type of fuel that runs your brain.
  • Physical performance slows.  Carbs provide that vital quick energy: athletes know better than to ever attempt low carb diets. 
  • Increase in occurrence of depression and anxiety have been recently correlated with low carb diets.
  • Bad breath. When fats and proteins are broken down into glucose, by-products called ketones are  produced, which gives off the notorious "ketone-breath." Ugh.
  • Constipation, hemorrhoids.  Low carb diets tend to be lower in fiber, which often result in very uncomfortable digestive issues. Need I say more?
If you are trying to lose weight, be sure to include carbs, but choose them wisely:

Reach for healthy, whole grain breads, cereals, grains, vegetables, and fruits every day.  These sources of carbohydrates provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that give you what your body needs to keep you healthy.  

And the mom of the bride, I hope she soon found some energy in a bowl of oatmeal topped with peaches...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Lowdown On Vitamin C

When I was growing up, Vitamin C was all the rage.  Everyone was talking about how Vitamin C prevented colds.  It was the first time I was aware of anyone popping vitamin pills other than the One-A-Day multi's. So many people bought into C's promises, that the sales of the vitamin supplements boomed, and for the most part, has never looked back.

What's the real scoop on Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is necessary for normal growth and development.  It's important for:
  • repair of tissues
  • skin health
  • scar tissue formation
  • tendons and ligaments
  • collagen formation
  • healing wounds
  • blood vessels
  • repair and maintenance of bones and teeth
  • aids in the absorption of iron
  • Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals that may cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and perhaps other diseases.

Too Little Vitamin C:
  • dry, split hair
  • bruise easier
  • inflamed or bleeding gums
  • weakened tooth enamel
  • swollen, painful joints
  • slower healing of wounds 
  • nose bleeds
  • reduced ability to fight infection
  • anemia
  • severe deficiency, called scurvy, is rare.
We need to consume sources daily:  Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is water soluble.  Humans don't have the ability to store it to use later. 

How much do you need? 

     Ages                           1 - 3       15 mg
     Ages                           4 - 8       25
     Ages                           9 - 13     45
Girls                               14 - 18     65
Boys                              14 - 18     75
      Men, non-smokers          19+    90
               smokers                          125
      Women, non-smokers     19+    75
               smokers                          110

These recommendations are based on how much is necessary to prevent disease.  Experts are now in the process of recommending a change to ensure a more positive health outcome.  200 mg is being considered, as is 400 mg.  The upper tolerable level is considered 2000 mg, though this is not toxic.  As a water soluble vitamin, theoretically unneeded vitamin will be excreted in urine.  At levels of 2000 and more, diarrhea and gastric distress is common. 

All fruits and veggies have some vitamin C.

Rich sources include:
  • citrus fruits
  • tomatoes
  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • leafy greens
  • sweet and white potatoes
  • cantaloupe
  • kiwi fruit
Good sources:
  • papaya
  • mango
  • watermelon
  • brussel sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • winter squash
  • red pepper
  • raspberries
  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • pineapple
Reaching for food sources of vitamins is always preferable. A large orange has 70 mg of vitamin C, while 1/2 cup of red pepper has 95 mg.  Eating 5 fruits and veggies each day is a great way to get enough vitamin C each day.  If you want to reach for the 200 - 400 mg daily, upping your fruits and veggies will help you do that.

If you chose to take vitamin C supplements, be sure not to go over 2000 mg per day, including your food sources to minimize tummy troubles. 

And the big question:  Does Vitamin C prevent the common cold?  No. There is no evidence that extra C helps the general population reduce the number of colds or their duration.   However, studies done in extreme situations with skiers, subjects in the arctic, and marathoners have shown an indication of reducing colds.  I guess we need to keep washing our hands, get plenty of rest, and eat healthy foods instead!

Your job this week:  Enjoy some melon, red peppers, or other vitamin C rich foods this week.
To your health!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Oomph Factor

The poor woman was horrified.  She had been trying on a dress in the dressing room.  Granted, the size was a bit of a reach, but she got it on.  Couldn't breathe, but she had it on.  And then, the unthinkable.  She couldn't get out.  The zipper broke. There was no way she could get the dress off.

The women who were asked when the baby was due, but they weren't pregnant. Then there are those that woke up after seeing high blood sugar levels, and hearing the possibility of developing diabetes, as my husband did. Some people are only ready after having a heart attack. I had the experience of reading the diagnosis: OBESE on a physical form.  But it wasn't until a few months later when I had get my wedding rings cut off my finger, that it really hit me.

It takes a big kick in the rear for most of us to get motivated enough to take action toward working toward a health goal---a negative motivator.  We get so fed up and angry that we reach the end of our rope.  We are ready to make a change.  Working on a health goal requires hard work, so you need strong motivation to start the journey of change.

These negative motivators work well as initial motivators for most people, and can keep you fired up and focused for quite some time.  But, what happens over time? For most people, they weaken, they aren't as powerful.  If your health goal is to lose weight, you may have lost 10, 20 or 30# and you look and feel better.  Your blood sugar levels are lower.  Great.  But, the initial urgency, fire and motivation is gone.

Many people, at this point, start slipping into their old habits:  more TV time and less working out, more chocolate and fewer veggies.  They wait until they've gained all that weight back and more, or until their blood sugar is off the charts,  before they are fed up enough to take action again.  I used to be that way, only knowing how to be motivated by negative feelings.

One key to long term success is to learn to create a positive motivator that you can reach toward as you work your way to your goal. Try to avoid focusing on the numbers, for example, what you want to weigh, how low you want your blood cholesterol or how fast you want to run the mile.  The numbers may be too finite and not realistic for your body. Instead, go inside your head and try to imagine:
  • How do you want to feel?
  • What do you want to be able to do?
Create a visual of yourself walking up the stairs comfortably, without losing your breath or happily strolling down the beach in shorts---a positive image that you need to visualize often.  Use this positive image to pull yourself toward as if you are pulling yourself into the image. This is a positive motivator: you want this to happen, not running away from that.

Along the way, when you feel motivation dwindling, reach out for support.  As was so eloquently said in our support group, "motivation starts the journey, support sustains the motivation."

As I love to say, Fire Up, You Can DO This!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Today, my plan is to work on being as healthy as I can be.  I'm going to...

  • Start the day with a positive attitude. Smile.
  • Get out my little spiral notebook and make a list of all the things I want to accomplish today.  Then I'll cross off each things as it gets done ---with absolute joy!
  • Walk the dog in the morning with a little more speed (if he'll quit sniffing ALL the mailboxes!) 
  • Have my favorite summer breakfast:  1 cup plain, fat-free yogurt, 1 diced fresh peach, 1/4 cup dry oatmeal, with 7 almonds, sliced...it's just so good!!
  • Drink a bigger glass of water with my morning multi-vitamin supplement.
  • Sip on iced water and iced tea all day long to stay hydrated and refreshed.
  • Take time to go through all of my stretching exercises, especially those for my neck, it has not been too happy lately. (I really love the book "Stretching," by Bob Anderson.  It's highlighted on My Favorites--I Recommend, to the right.)  
  • Sit down at the table with a place mat for each meal and snack I eat. I should put fresh flowers on the table, too.  I deserve it.
  • Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate with a cup of green tea for tonight's snack, and look forward to having it all day long.
  • Tell someone that I appreciate them and thank them for being who they are.
  • Do one act of kindness:  smile at a grumpy or sad person, call someone who needs it, write a note to someone, help a neighbor---something for someone else.
  • Tell someone I love them.
  • Have 1 or 2 fruits or veggies at each meal/snack, and think about how they're building super- power protective coating on all my cells with their fantastic antioxidants :)
  • Have 1/2 cup of red wine, maybe a Shiraz, at dinner.  It's good for me, and I enjoy it.
  • Practice deep breathing, rolling my shoulders, and loosening my neck muscles if I start feeling any stress today.
  • At the end of the day, I'll write down 10 things I am thankful for.
  • Tell myself I'm proud of whatever I accomplished for the day.   
  • Then go to sleep...
Maybe we can't magically change into healthy, svelte, buff bodies overnight, but we can certainly start taking the steps toward getting there. Along the way, just keep acting like the healthy person you're striving to become.  You don't have to be perfect all the time....

Just Fake It 'Til You Make It!!