Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Ice Cream Diet

While the lighter fare of dinner of grilled chicken, fresh salad and whole grain baguette was great, last night was just one of those nights that called for ice cream. Soft-serve ice cream...

Maybe it's because I was raised by parents who both grew up on farms that had dairy cattle. Or maybe it was my Dad's love of dairy products. He was a professor in dairy nutrition; of course we always had ice cream in the freezer growing up. Then there were all the summer road trips we went on in the non-air conditioned family station wagon.  I remember Mom always announcing it was time for an ice cream stop around 3 each afternoon. She still does that! I remember keeping track of the daily travel expenses when DQ was still Dairy Queen and small cones only cost 10 cents! Whatever the reason, I've always loved ice cream. And over the years, that love connection tended to interfere with my ability to maintain a healthy weight.

As my husband, daughter and I headed back from our local ice cream shop with cones in hand last night, I reminisced about one of the crazy diets I went on in college:

Several of my friends in our dorm house, including me, tried out what sounded like the greatest diet we'd ever heard of: The Ice Cream Diet! You could eat all the ice cream you wanted--any flavor---but you couldn't eat anything else. Once committed, we all headed across the street to Boyd's Dairy and stocked up on our food supply for the week. I think the idea was that you'd get sick of ice cream and quit eating. I don't think we lasted more than a few days on it...Results? Everyone else lost weight on it, except me! To celebrate the end of the diet? An ice cream fight!

What can I say? I had a lot of learning ahead of me...

Moral of the story: Fad diets don't work! Or, if it sounds too good to be true, it is!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Little Help From the Grocery Store!

Some grocery stores make it easier for their customers to make healthier food selections. I applaud their effort. 

In our area, Kroger and Meijer provide customers a quick, easy way to evaluate the nutritional value of foods using the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System. This nutrition model rates each food on a simple scale of 1 to 100; the higher the number, the healthier the food choice. Look for the double hexagon mark labeled on the shelf tabs that indicates price. It's an easy way to compare similar products allowing you to purchase more nutritious foods. 

If you take the time to look, it's simple, quick and effective. For example, do you go with Lays Potato Chips for your snack with a NuVal of 17, or apricots with a NuVal of 100? No matter what you pick, you have more information on it's nutritional impact on your health. At the fresh meat counter, pork shoulder ribs come in at 25, skinless turkey breast 48, and salmon scores 87. 

Another gold start goes to our local Mejier. They've been undergoing major renovations recently and I love what they've done with the produce section: a huge selection of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables nicely displayed under non-glare lighting. Signs above each item provides a NuVal score right next to the price tag. One really fun area is just for kids: a healthy snack area at just their height.
Yesterday, four bins were nicely displayed under the sign"Fresh Market for Kids, Have a Healthy Snack." The bins filled with little red boxes of raisins, apricots, bananas, and pears looked very appealing. This certainly beats one grocery store that I remember shopping in when my kids were little. They provided every child a great, big cookie at the bakery just for asking. Ouch. And how many parents did I see simply telling their kids to sit in the cart and if they were "good" they'd get that cookie? That's definitely not a reward system to instill in our youth.  Many people I've worked with are still trying to get a handle on what they learned in childhood: good behavior gets sweets; bad behavior doesn't. Do yourself and the next generation a favor and find fun, non-edible rewards.

I developed the Fruit Game with my daughter when she was little. Every trip to the grocery store we made, she was allowed to choose one fruit of her choice. This was her special fruit. We bought only one kiwi that week if that's what she wanted that she would eat when she got home. She was a great little shopper and could wait to get in that cart and head to the produce section. I was constantly amazed at how many different choices she made, though plums were certainly a frequent choice. I should point out that I never tied the Fruit Game to behavior to avoid the food is a reward trap that is so easy to fall into. Food nourishes your body and should not be used as a reward.

Make your next grocery shopping trip a bit healthier:
  • Look for the NuVal system or something similar that can help you make healthier choices.
  • Anticipate the produce section and take great joy in selecting your favorite fruits and vegetables each and every time you shop!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Using the Olympic Mentality

I joined the millions of viewers who watched NBC's coverage of the 2012 Olympics in London last night. In truth, my heart aligns with the swimmers who are able to cover that Olympic-size pool in a fraction of the time it took me to do the same in the 25-yard pool we had in high school. The old swimming instructor in me loves to watch the amazing stoke techniques, breathing patterns and turns. I join with the crowds yelling for them to bring it home. But that wasn't entirely what I was focused on. I was watching for signs of the athlete's elite Olympic Mentality.

Mentality is said to be the single most important factor responsible for success. Mentality encompasses beliefs, outlooks, and the ideas that each individual embrace. Does that mean that the single most important determinate of a talented athlete who achieves Olympic greatness is what goes on inside the head? The simple answer is yes!

Achieving and maintaining your healthy goals is tough. Wether you want to lose weight manage your blood sugar level, we can use all the help we can get. Perhaps losing weight and keeping it off isn't that much different than working to achieve reaching the Olympics. Well, I said maybe! As I worked with my On the Way to Wellness groups this week, I've been sharing some of the many mental techniques used by athletes to improve performance and increase their level of success.

Elite athletes must develop a true belief in themselves and their ability to succeed.  When belief is high, confidence, skill level and drive to try hard increases. Success follows.

The use of positive self-talk to improve performance is critical: words do matter. Whether you hear a message from another person or you say it to yourself, your brain simply registers the message and saves it. If you say,"I am fat," often enough, you can end up believing. Behavior follows belief: couch potato time with a bag of chips. Focus on adding POSITIVE messages if you want that svelte, buff, healthy body.

Affirmations have been shown to increase belief.

  • Let's say your health quest is to lose weight and improve your health. One possible affirmation to use would be, "I am becoming a healthy and fit woman/man." Use words that feel great to you --buff, svelte, or amazing can easily replace "fit." Post it on your refrigerator door or somewhere you'd see it often.
  • Say your affirmation everyday. Read it, write it, say it to yourself or aloud. Whatever would imprint this message more effectively for you. Repeat often.
    • Keep in mind that it's works best if you focus on consistency instead of how many times you say it. Even 5 minutes a day works.
  • Perceive yourself a success, believe in your success, be a success

The use of positive self-talk to improve performance is critical: words do matter. Whether you hear a message from another person or you say it to yourself, your brain simply registers the message and saves it. If you say,"I am fat," often enough, you can end up believing. Behavior follows belief: couch potato time with a bag of chips. Focus on adding POSITIVE messages to become that svelte, buff person.

Listening to music you love. It's been shown to increase success. Beach Boys anyone?

Watching the OlympicsMotivational---fine motor skills
Instructional--large muscle tasks
sharpens focus,
increases confidence,
puts brain on auto-pilot,
Dissociation: less conscious though allows muscle memory to take over
improves performance

Music you like
Proprioception: taking a sense away.
Eye focus narrow focus the eye fovea or the center of the eye makes objects appear larger than with peripheral vision. Belief that the target was larger increased confidence, skill, performance