These days, everything needs to be fast. We need fast internet, fast traffic, fast DMV lines. Fast is almost always better, right? The keyword is almost. Fast seems great on a surface level but when it comes to fast food, the tradeoff is fast weight gain.
I’ve struggled with weight all of my adult life. At times, I was sickly thin. Other times, I was bloated and uncomfortable in my own skin. Both experiences have given me a perspective on what it’s like to be overweight and underweight.
Losing weight is easy — said no one ever! Patients sometimes approach weight loss with unrealistic expectations. Some think that if they just exercise and eat better, the weight will melt off and they’ll drop 20 pounds in a couple weeks. However, the reality is that people can work really hard, be super committed to their diet and exercise plan, and yet still not see the kind of progress they hope for as quickly as they want to see it. On top of the fact that in this time of the year, patients may also be dealing with winter weight gain that has thrown off their previous progress. So is it time to throw in the towel?
The winter months can be fun and festive. It’s also the season when dieters can lose momentum and throw months of progress right out the window. According to research reported by Johns Hopkins University, people tend to gain five to seven pounds on average during the winter months. Sounds like Santa isn’t the only one enjoying some cookies and milk.
Dieters don’t need to be doomed to winter weight gain. Being aware of the common causes for seasonal weight gain can help dieters work to avoid the usual hurdles, and set themselves up for a positive start to the New Year. Here are three of the most common causes for winter weight gain, and what dieters can do to stay on track when the weather outside is frightful:
1. COLD WEATHER: Finding time to take a walk seems a lot easier when the weather is warm and beautiful — but not so much when it’s below freezing and there’s snow on the ground. Dieters may even lose motivation to go to the gym when they have to leave their comfy, warm house and defrost the car.
What can you do? Call on your friends, family, or significant other to help hold you accountable to your workout routine. Give yourself an incentive to go, such as putting $5 in a jar every time you do a workout. Use the money at the end of the week to treat yourself to some shopping or a healthy snack. You can also consider using a workout app or routine that can be done in the comfort of your living room so you never even have to leave the house. For workouts you can do at home in just seven minutes with just a chair and a wall, try this app.
2. HOLIDAY MEALS: The winter months can mean quality time with family and friends, as well as fun holiday parties for work. Those gatherings tend to have a lot of fattening and sugary foods that can easily throw a dieter off.
What can you do? Never attend a holiday party hungry. Eat a healthy, protein-filled meal before going to the party to control hunger and make it easier to beat cravings. Bringing a protein-rich meal replacement bar or shake can also help if hunger strikes during the event. For even more tips on how to avoid holiday snacking, check out this recent blog.
3. WINTER GROGGINESS: The cold weather and decreased sunlight can cause many people to feel extra sleepy, causing a lack of motivation to stay active. Winter grogginess can even negatively influence productivity during the day and at the workplace, impacting not just our weight but our overall mood. This can cause a snowball effect.
What can you do? Find a few moments throughout the day to get up, move around, and increase your energy. Deskercise is a great way to stay active throughout the day by decreasing your sitting time at work, and you can do it right at your desk! Incorporating energizing routines like this can also help keep you motivated throughout the winter season.
What are some other challenges to staying on a diet during the winter months? Share with us on Facebook, and let’s toss around some ideas of how to stay on track through the New Year!
Source: Eat This, Not That
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
When it comes to calorie counting, not many people — if any at all — like doing it. It’s monotonous, tedious, and restrictive. It takes all the joy out of eating. You counted all your calories, so you should be losing weight, right? Well, not necessarily. If you stop to think about what a calorie is, you will find that it’s not just how many calories you consume that affects healthy weight loss, but what kinds of calories.
Download the Calorie Equation: Learn to indulge in colorful, flavorful foods without loads of calories with this picture lesson from Dr. Howard Shapiro’s book, Picture Perfect Weight Loss.
Simply put, a calorie is a unit of energy. Our bodies actually need calories to survive because without energy, our cells would die, and our organs would stop functioning. We acquire this energy through food and drink in the form of calories. The number of calories food contains tells us how much potential energy they possess.
Keeping track of how many calories one consumes is, of course, important to weight loss. If you burn off more calories than you consume through physical activity, the body will locate other calories to burn for energy, ultimately using the calories from the body’s fat reserves, and thus stimulating weight loss.
The problem comes in when “empty calories” are consumed; that is, foods high in energy but low in nutritional value. Such foods include fast foods, and foods high in fat and/or sugar, such as ice cream and bacon. More than 11% of Americans’ daily calories come from fast foods, and Americans consume an average of 336 calories per day from sugary beverages alone. To put it more simply, 2,000 calories in the form of vegetables and lean protein will provide a very different result than 2,000 calories in the form of a large fast food burger.
Ultimately, to achieve fast and, most importantly, healthy weight loss, it is important to advise patients to stick to a low calorie diet, but through foods and supplements that are high in nutritional value. Many people continue to find it challenging to stick to a low calorie diet on their own. This is why it is important for health professionals to be proactive in asking overweight patients about their weight loss goals*, and educating them not just about the benefits of achieving a healthy weight, but also about the options that are available to them, such as a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) or Low Calorie Diet (LCD). With a medically supervised VLCD, patients could expect to lose 3-5 pounds a week, enjoying a variety of meal replacements, snacks, and food products that taste great and are scientifically designed to have high nutritional value.
Obesity is on the rise, and healthcare costs and early mortality rates are rising with it. But adding weight loss as a service for your patients is easier than you might think, and can actually get started in 60 days or less with the help of an experienced partner. Contact Robard today and learn how you can increase the quality of care for your patients by starting an obesity treatment program.
*For practical tips on how to speak with patients about their weight, check out this free webcast!
Sources: Medical News Today
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
Blog written and edited by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
October until the New Year is a tough season for dieters. Every month, there is a holiday that can present numerous challenges to remaining compliant to a diet, with temptation lurking around every corner in the form of candy corn, warm apple pies, buffets, and dining room tables full of fattening, delicious food. By the time New Year’s rolls around — if they are not careful — dieters can find that in three months they put on more weight than they lost in the previous six months. It can be even more difficult to come back from such a setback.
The key is prevention. Set your patients up for success this holiday season by making plans now to deal with holiday temptation. To get the conversation started, click here to download Robard’s helpful Holiday Goal Setter worksheet. Then, use the tips below to have some proactive discussion with your patients to help them stay compliant between now and the New Year:
1. Stock up on Tricks, not Treats
When trick or treating time rolls around, that bowl of candy can look mighty appetizing. Your patients might be eating one piece of candy for every five they give out. Suggest that if they choose to be festive on this holiday, instead of handing out candy, provide fun non-candy dollar store items that the kids will still love, like glow sticks, whoopee cushions, crayons, bubbles, stickers, and temporary tattoos. In addition to avoiding candy cravings, they’ll also be accommodating children who may have food sensitivities/ allergies.
2. Eat healthy first.
If your patients have company or family holiday parties to attend, suggest that they be proactive and control hunger by eating a healthy meal or snack before they arrive to the party. They can even bring along a yummy weight loss shake packet or protein bar that complies with their diet to enjoy just before or during the party to ensure that they are satiated enough to avoid giving in to hunger and overeating. Robard’s meal replacement shakes and bars are delicious and scientifically designed for the highest level of satiety to curb hunger and cravings.
3. Bring your own portion-controlled plate and cup
Those large dinner plates can cause people to pile on far more than a single portion of food, and people are inclined to try and finish all the food on their plate. To help with this, suggest that patients bring their own smaller plate, maybe even find one with sectioned out portions, so that they are aware of how much they are consuming. Bring a five ounce cup and limit oneself to one high calorie beverage a night, and stick to water for the rest of the night.
4. Eat mindfully.
People often overeat because they revert to unconscious eating, leading them to not recognize when they are full. Eating mindfully helps dieters to slow down and focus on what they are eating and how much to create a better connection between their physiological need and their mental state. This can also help them make healthier choices about food selection in addition to eating less. Click here for 9 easy tips on how to eat mindfully during the holidays.
5. Buddy up.
When possible, patients can identify a friend, family member, coworker, or significant other who can be their support system through the holidays. This person may also be on a diet, have similar weight loss goals, or may be someone who can just be there to eat healthier with them, cheer them on, and remind them of their goals (without shaming). It is important that this buddy be positive and uplifting, and can help bring a sense of joy and camaraderie to the pursuit of eating healthy during the holidays. Ask your patients if they have someone in their lives that can support them in this way, and coach them on how to approach such people and make the request for support.
Want more tips on how to keep your patients on track through the holiday season? For Robard customers, there is a wealth of complimentary resources and information available to you in the Holiday section of Robard.com. Simply click the link, log in, and start browsing. For non-Robard customers, contact us today to learn more about our services and resources!
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
How do you get patients to stick with the plan?
Compliance to a medical treatment can be challenging, to say the least. Patients want to be healthier, more active, and more energetic. Yet time and time again, they fall off the wagon and resort to going back into the same old habits that don’t support their progress. Why? (Click here for a flashback on 5 Bad Habits that Lead to Weight Gain)
For health care providers, it can be frustrating to check in with a patient and hear that their diet or exercise plan isn’t going so well. But it can also help to understand how habits form so you can not only help set realistic expectations for your patient, but also for yourself.
Studies on habit formation have shown that habits form as part of a three-step process. First, there’s a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold (i.e. hunger). Then, there’s the routine, which is the actual behavior that we associate as being the “bad habit.” The third step is the reward: Something that your brain likes that helps it remember the “habit loop” in the future. In the case of overweight patients, the pleasure of enjoying “off-limits” food can be their reward. (Learn more about this physiological pleasure connection for those suffering from food addiction in our free white paper.)
Neuroscience has shown that habitual behavior and conscious decision-making are handled by two different parts of the brain, and the area of the brain that controls habits can often supersede and shut down the decision-making area. So when patients revert back to old habits, it is not that they are just battling low motivation or self-control. Their brains are hardwired to return to the behavior that it is used to, even when they no longer benefit from it.
So what can health care providers do?
First off, be patient with your patients. It’s not that they are less committed to their goals; for many it can just be that they require a little more time to relearn healthier habits. Studies show that it can take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. And there will be trips along the way.
Secondly, don’t stress too much about when they mess up. Researchers have found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Reassure your patients that an occasional binge is not the end of the world and encourage them to get back on the horse.
Third, understand that old habits are not forgotten, but replaced with new ones. We can’t magically expect patients to stop a damaging behavior without providing an easier alternative. For overweight people who have an unhealthy relationship with food, there can be a benefit to introducing something like meal replacements. Rather than expecting patients to completely change how they relate to food, they can replace their normal food habits with an easy shake or bar and make it part of a new routine that is easier to implement.
Dr. Valerie Sutherland of Rainier Medical Weight Loss and Wellness notes, “[Patients] typically report that taking food away for a period made a huge difference, even if only for a month. Since food can be addictive for some people, taking it away completely can be crucial for long term change, which is the opposite eﬀect that you may be warned about by some critics of a short term rapid weight loss program that is ‘unsustainable.’”
For a more help on helping patients set realistic goals they can stick with, instantly download our free Short Term Goal Helper Worksheet!
Sources: NPR, MIT News, HuffPost
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
Getting healthy and losing weight is not an easy endeavor — especially, if you are not following a mental diet. So much energy and focus tends to go into the physical components of weight management, but the mental aspects are just as vital. I would like to propose a “Mental Diet” to go along with the physical aspects of weight management.
The morning can be a critical compass to direct your focus for the day. Even if you are not a “morning person” that is full of energy, it is important is to start your day off with intention. This means that you will set aside time for self-care before too many responsibilities or distractions consume your morning. The morning is actually the best time for exercise or meditation, even if it is for five minutes, as you will have less excuses/distractions and more “willpower” in the morning. As the day progresses, we deplete our “willpower tank” which tends to result in an inability to tackle difficult tasks in the evening. So, the ingredients for a good mental breakfast include: At least five minutes of exercise or meditation, self-focus, gain insight and perspective on the day and start the day after taking care of yourself first.
It is important that you schedule time to break for lunch. If you are the type of person that gets busy and easily distracted, you will want to set an alarm to remind yourself to take a break. We are such as fast-paced society that we may not pay attention to how much and how fast we are eating. It’s not uncommon for people to engage in “mindless” eating while sitting at their desk, in front of the TV or driving — suddenly you realize that the food is gone and you have not paid attention to satiety. Instead of just go through the motions of putting food in your mouth, focus on eating slowly and truly paying attention to each bite and monitoring how we feel. The ingredients for a healthy mental lunch include: 15-30 minutes to recharge by refueling with a calm, mindful meal or shake.
You need to have a moment to digest the day. It is important to recognize that “emotional eating” and cravings may increase toward the end of the day. Unfortunately, you may have used most of the energy from your “willpower tank” and begin to want sweets or snacks after dinner. After a long day, “rewarding” yourself with unhealthy foods may sound like the perfect way to unwind. However, indulging in unhealthy foods will only leave you craving more and potentially feeling guilt and remorse. Instead of trying to “eat” your emotions, talk it out or journal your thoughts and feelings. As you prepare for sleep, limit your time with “screens” such as TV, phones and computers and start to focus on relaxation. So the healthy mental dinner includes: Reduce the mental weight of the day by writing down three things that went well for the day and if there is anything that you might need to do for the following day.
Behavioral change and extensive patient education materials are interwoven into all of Robard’s weight loss programs. If you’re a medical provider and would like more information, click here.
Blog written by Devin Vicknair, Ph.D., LPC, Behavioral Health Coordinator at Gwinnett Medical Center: Center for Weight Management.
Frequently, patients tell me they want to
“change their relationship with food.” This lofty-sounding desire is
often expressed after significant weight loss following a diet, after a
life-changing event or during recovery from disordered eating. Some
refer to it as making “peace” with food, as if they have been at war
with it all their lives. And perhaps they have.
How we change
that (food) relationship — or not — greatly depends upon how we view
food. Merriam-Webster.com (medically) defines food as: “Material
consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the
body of an organism to sustain growth, repair and vital processes and to
furnish energy.” Food is, first and foremost, the important fuel that
keeps the body alive. So, it makes sense that quality “fuel” put into
the body would produce a healthier-running organism.
being a source of macro and micro-nutrients, food also provides
pleasure. Nature could have permanently provided us earthly inhabitants
with some bland-tasting, gray-colored sustenance to meet our nutritional
requirements for survival. Instead, nutrition is packaged in a plethora
of delightful colors, smells, tastes and textures. Along with man-made
food preparation methods, we now have a phenomenal multiplicity of
choices. “Extreme variety” —with food available almost as soon as we can
imagine it — is both a blessing and a curse. And one could argue that
the availability of today’s super palatable convenience foods doesn’t
help. So, we need to know how to reasonably combine nutrition and
pleasure, calories and nutrient density. We need balance.
if we want to truly improve our food relationship, we have to slow down,
learn to savor and listen to our bodies. When we dismiss our bodies’
hunger signals (usually pretty discernable) and satiety signals
(sometimes more like a whisper), our food behavior can move us quickly
from starved to stuffed — neither of which is a positive or pleasurable
experience. And while we also need to learn that mild hunger is not
something to be feared (most of us are blessed enough not to experience
food insecurity) our concern with seeking food and thoughts about food
also should not interfere with daily life.
Lastly, food really
needs to be food. It can’t substitute for or squelch our emotional
expression on a regular basis. If our “default” is to eat when an
emotion arises, we are no longer nourishing ourselves as intended. Food
is not a persona — not our “friend” or our “enemy.” To put food back in
its place, people often initially need some structure. Planning meals
and snacks at regular intervals, eating a wide variety of plant foods,
lean proteins, whole grains, healthful fats, drinking enough water and
tracking intake are some sensible ways to start. And because food
attitudes, just like emotions, can be contagious, having a good “food
mentor” is not a bad idea.
So improving one’s food relationship —
just like a relationship between people — involves the
desire/willingness to change, which takes times and effort. There is no
room for self-blame or blaming others for our personal food history
because, as adults, we are each responsible for the food we put in our
mouths. There is only room for learning and growing, one day at a time —
one meal at a time. Sometimes we can do this on our own and sometimes,
as with relationships, we need outside help. And it takes patience. But
the rewards of improving one’s food relationship are very rich, and go
beyond weight management to include health, a sense of gratitude,
confidence, and a growing appreciation for nature. It’s never too late
to start the process.
Blog written by By Rosemary Mueller, MPH, RDN, LDN, Advocate Medical Group — Advocate Weight Management