Sunday, August 26, 2012

Warning: Diets are Toxic to Your Health

You have probably heard the saying that "diets don't work". Well, it is true. Research shows that people who chronically diet tend to continue gaining weight over the years. Diets can, and often do, result in weight loss. However, the weight loss from these diets is typically short lived as they are too restrictive and cumbersome to stick with for any length of time.

Many of us in the nutrition and fitness industry throw around the term "lifestyle change" as a way to explain that the changes you make in your diet and activity level must "stick" in order to maintain weight loss. That recommendation to make a "lifestyle change" is then followed by rules like "no sugar", "no junk food", "cut back on carbs", "don't eat meat", "exercise daily", or "never eat fast food again". That puts us back at square one with the "diet mentality".

To truly make a "lifestyle change" we have to abandon the ideas of diets, restrictions, and quick-fixes. I strongly encourage you to read Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A., C.E.D.R.D. The authors of this book discuss how to eat intuitively by listening and trusting your own hunger and fullness signals. We were born with this ability; however, many of us have moved away from using this simple tool to regulate our food intake. There is also an emphasis on enjoying food and allowing yourself to make room in your life for foods that often seem forbidden on diets.

The principles of intuitive eating are as follows:

"1. Reject the diet mentality.
2. Honor your hunger.
3. Make peace with food.
4. Challenge the food police.
5. Feel your fullness.
6. Discover the satisfaction factor.
7. Cope with your emotions without using food.
8. Respect your body.
9. Exercise-feel the difference.
10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition."
Tribole, E., Resch, E. Intuitive Eating. NY: St. Martin's Griffin, 2012.

If you truly want to change your lifestyle, mend your relationship with food, and reach a healthy weight, Intuitive Eating is the book for you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Exercise Makes You Happy!

Exercise is medicine. I believe that a large amount of disease (mental and physical) and other ailments would decrease in our country if more movement and less sitting were going on. The impact of exercise on depression has been examined by many researchers and results look pretty promising.

Exercise appears to improve depression more quickly than medication alone and decrease relapses. Some researchers even believe that medication can be decreased or discharged from some patients' medical plan. There is very strong evidence that exercise helps to reduce anxiety levels.

Aside from the reduction in depression and anxiety, exercise is known to evoke a positive mood and improve confidence and self-esteem.

Going out for a walk once a week will most likely not make a huge difference in the factors listed above. While some walking is better than nothing, best results occur when people exercise regularly (at least five times each week) and when they stick to their exercise regimen. Also, vigorous exercise proves to be more effective than moderate exercise.

Another interesting note is that people tend to benefit from group exercise. Not to say that exercising alone won't be beneficial. However, the comaraderie that occurs while breaking a sweat with other people in aerobics classes, cycling, or a group of runners may help to give your mood a little extra boost.

So for anyone battling the stresses of life, struggling to beat depression, fighting off anxiety, or just wanting to be a little happier, get out there and start breaking a sweat!