Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is This You? Eat...Repent...Repeat...

Is this you? Eat...Repent...Repeat...
Now that we are a month and a half from New Year's resolutions, I wonder if your resolve has lost steam. Are you going back to your old habits? Did you ever really change them? Let's ask ourselves a few questions to check our current status in this arena:
1. I have a friend who is always thinking about his next meal, while he's still eating! Do you think about food more often than you think you should?
2. Do you struggle to pass up tempting food items, even when you aren't hungry?
3. Do you often feel too full when you are finished eating? Many of my friends are so stuffed, they can barely move after a this you? Is Thanksgiving every day?
4. Do you find yourself reaching for food when you are sad, lonely, mad, frustrated?
5. Do you fluctuate between dieting, and eating too much? (This one is a classic!)
If you said "yes" to any of these, you are probably realizing that losing weight isn't that easy, and dieting isn't necessarily the answer. The problem with the word "diet" is that it carries the connotation of finality. In other words, you do this for a short time, and then you can go back to "normal".
Many of you know that I've lost a lot of weight. Some of you have only known me during the last 40 pound loss. Prior to that, however, I was as high as 296#. I know. When my daughter was born, 17 years ago, I weighed in at 296. On my 5'6 medium sized frame, this was not good, and my knees hurt, my back hurt, and I was so sad.
But I didn't go on a diet. I began to exercise, and log my food (an incredibly useful tool!). When you look at this as a change in lifestyle, then you can begin to change permanently. You begin to change one bad habit, incorporate that, and then tackle another. So with that in mind, let's examine the following points:
1. Let go of the word "diet". It's temporary. The answer to change lies within YOU.
2. Whenever you find yourself wanting food, key in to the physical feeling of HUNGER. Are you truly hungry? Or are you just craving...something...
3. Try not to think of foods as "good" and "bad". When I want something, I look it up-Lose It, My Fitness Pal, Calorie Count, are all great ways to check your facts on food. Can you have half of your favorite food? How can you fit it in to your day and still enjoy?
4. Think about how the foods you eat make you feel. Certain foods taste good, but make you feel physically ill. I try to eat mindfully, thinking about what those foods are fueling. Your body creates billions of new cells each day from the foods you eat. What do you want to create those building blocks from? Are you enjoying the texture and tastes of the food? I'll give you a quick example. I love cheese. But, it's high in fat and calories. Bummer. So I went to the "cheese lady" over at the store, and tried some very flavorful cheeses: strong sharp cheddar, grass fed pungent gouda, etc. So now, I get more flavor in each bite, and I am able to enjoy a smaller portion!
5. Stop eating when you feel full. Save some money, and have a second meal from the leftovers. You do NOT...I repeat...You do NOT have to clean your plate. This is about feeling good about eating and feeling good after you eat, and fueling your body, not about shoving every possible mouthful in that you can fit. Let it go.
6. Distract yourself. If you are finding yourself grabbing every food in sight, and not stopping, ask yourself why. Did something trigger this? Distract yourself by walking away, take a walk outside, make a cup of tea, fold some laundry. What's eating YOU, that's making you want to eat?
7. Perfect does not belong in your vocabulary. There is no such thing as a perfect diet, or a perfect person. We are all flawed, and we all struggle. Try to balance your mistakes. Eat more sparingly at your next meal, go workout, go for a walk. Don't beat yourself up.
But get OFF the roller coaster!

Weakness is not a reason, it's an excuse.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Body Types

Body Types

Variety is the spice of life, and the sizes and shapes that we come in are no exception! The amount of muscle, bone and fat we carry makes our bodies unique, but there are also similarities that we can observe, as well.  Did you know that your body type is passed down from your parents?  I know, I know, it's all their fault...

Which Body Type Are You?

Everyone can fit into one of three body type categories: Mesomorph, Endomorph or Ectomorph.

Mesomorphs are muscular and short. Their bone frame may be large and their bodies gain muscle easily--very annoying, if you ask me.  They can gain fat, but not as easily as Endomorphs.  Additionally, they tend to gain that fat evenly, all over their body, instead of in one vacinity (like the hips!).  Examples are singer Madonna and actor Hugh Jackman.

Endomorphs, are soft and curvy. Their bodies want to gain fat but resist gaining muscle, and their bone frames may be small, medium or large. Examples are Jennifer Hudson, and Michael Moore.

Ectomorphs are tall and skinny with delicate bones and light muscles. Their bodies resist gaining both muscle and fat, and their bone frames are usually small. Five percent of the population has this body type. Examples of ectomorphs are model Kate Moss, and actor (Once Upon A Time) Robert Carlyle.

Most people are a combination of two body types--Mesomorph and Ectomorph or Mesomorph and Endomorph. There are more mixed types than pure types. Think of the range of Body Types along a continuum:

                                 x (I am here)


Why does this matter?

Acceptance and a good shot of reality.  Knowing your body type will help you to have reasonable goals, with an understanding of what is realistic for you.  For example, one of my girlfriends is a solid mesomorph, with a small frame, and she can get her body into a size two.  But no matter how much some of us try, the width of the pelvis (bone and skeletal size), and the shape and distribution might never allow that.  Be accepting of who you are, and what is reasonable for you.  Of course, we can all make improvements!

Living With Your Body Type

Your body type does not change the rules for good nutrition, so if you're a solid Ectomorph, and never gain weight, that doesn't mean you should then eat a diet full of nonsense empty foods!  Maintain a diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, skim milk, fish, lean meat, poultry, beans and nuts. Choose foods that are low in animal fat and added sugars and eat sensible portion sizes. Get aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, that conditions the heart and lungs, and weight lifting that helps to maintain or increase muscle mass.  Exercise is the true fountain of youth.

However, you can tailor your exercise routine to body type. Ectomorphs might do their aerobic exercise, and add weight training three times a week for building muscles, utilizing heavier weights.  Mesomorphs would perhaps opt for the same program weekly, but with lighter weights and more repetitions, depending on how much muscle they want to build.  And endomorphs can do longer aerobics to burn more calories, with weight training, but direct their weight training toward balancing any imbalances in their physique (i.e. pear shaped ladies, focus on upper body training and maintenance of lower body strength).


  • William H. Sheldon, The Varieties of Human Physique: An Introduction to Constitutional Psychology (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940).