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BLOGS

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Oh-Go-Take-a-Walk

Oh, Go Take a Walk

Learn to enjoy walking, not for weight loss but for brain growth and mood elevation.  “Think on Your Feet” by award-winning writer Martha W. Murphy (AARP Bulletin, 5/23, p. 20) lays out five ways walking can help your mind and body. “Walking may help you grow new brain cells.” Who wouldn’t want new brain cells, especially as you’re aging? Brain cell increase occurs because walking “likely helps facilitate the growth of new neurons.”“Walking may boost your creativity.” It “increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which can open gates to enhanced creativity.” This is true of other aerobic activities as well. I’m sold: When I started swimming each morning, I began hearing songs in my head (note: I got a D in high school music). The songs simply wouldn’t stop coming. Try noodling (not worrying) a problem when you walk, run or swim and see what happens. “Creativity...

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When-You-Cant-Exercise

When You Can’t Exercise

I was chatting at a party with a woman who was lamenting the weight she’d gained since she could no longer run 20 miles several days a week. She was frustrated that she’d put on weight, but the more she focused on eating less, the more she was drawn to food. This conversation reminded of an exchange I’d had with a client who could no longer run and felt her best life had ended until she started swimming and then everything felt fine again. Regarding swimming, living in Florida helps. These exchanges may not be foreign to many of you. During the first half of my life, I also used exercise to manage my weight. I’m not saying I wasn’t trying to be healthy as well, but I had great fear that if I didn’t do my usual workouts, I wouldn’t fit into my clothes. It was only when I was...

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The-Benefits-of-Dance

The Benefits of Dance

I’ve been dancing since I was about six-years old. There have been years (more like decades) when I took no formal classes and now, at 75, I take two a week: tap (check out the video) and jazz (due to COVID, on Zoom). I can’t tell you how much joy I get from dance and how much it has contributed to my health and well-being. I don’t mean as exercise for heart health or bone strength, but how much it simply makes me feel connected to my body and good all over. Maybe because I grew up in the 50s and 60s, before thinness became a cultural obsession, I never thought of dance as exercise. It was just, well, fun. And also, a family affair, as my parents, both excellent dancers, took lessons from an instructor with several other couples by rotating hosting houses. Many were the nights when my father...

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The-Importance-of-Resting-Metabolism

The Importance of Resting Metabolism

Most of us have heard the term “resting metabolism,” but may not know what it is and why it’s important. “Cutting calories alone to lose weight just won’t cut it” by Angie Ferguson (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 6/8/21, 6E) explains the term in easy-to-understand language. Am I blogging on this subject to encourage you to lose weight or even focus on weight? I am not. But if you’re to understand how your body works in terms of nourishment in and energy out, resting metabolism is part of the picture.  “Metabolism is the daily energy expenditure of three components: resting metabolic rate, the thermal effect of food, and energy we expend during physical activity.” Your basic metabolic rate is called resting because it’s the number of calories you need to survive. It’s the energy consumption rate of your body simply breathing and doing all the internal machinations it does. Says Ferguson, “…when we consume...

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An-Interesting-Correlation-about-Sitting-and-Weight

An Interesting Correlation about Sitting and Weight

All of you sitters out there, listen up! I don’t mean people who sit occasionally— that would be all of us. I mean folks who choose to sit rather than stand or move. I suggest you read this blog not from the perspective of how to shed pounds (which it won’t tell you), but to recognize how complex and mult-factored the whole issue of weight is. “The lightness of sitting may work to keep us fat” by Gretchen Reynolds (Sarasota Herald Tribune, 7/28/20, E14) describes the results of a new study that “suggests that our bodies are capable of judging how much we should weigh, and if we abruptly rise above that level, nudging us into dropping pounds.” The idea is based on the concept of homeostasis which is basically the drive to return to how things have been.  The article explains that “There are many theories about why extra pounds...

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Don’t Call It Exercise

Don’t Call It Exercise

Many people balk at what they call exercise. I was recently talking with a client who felt she “should” exercise but mentioned that she was excited about a new line-dancing class that was starting in her community. That same week I had a conversation with a friend who, due to being a child of higher weight who was pushed to be fit to slim down, dislikes the concept of aiming for fitness rather than health. Many people seem to have feelings about words that have to do with moving our bodies, so it’s worth taking a look at what you’re telling yourself to do and how you’re feeling about it. The concept of “exercise” can be a turn off to people, especially if they’ve never been particularly active yet have felt pressured by intimates or society to be so. Exercise has both the denotation and connotation of being active to attain...

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Really, You Don’t Have Time for Exercise?

Really, You Don’t Have Time for Exercise?

“I don’t have time to exercise” is a plaint I often hear. I can almost guarantee that if you think this thought frequently, you will convince yourself that it’s true. “…According to a new study from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted by researchers at the non-profit Rand Corp. Americans, in fact, have plenty of free time: an average of five hours of it each day.” This conclusion is based on an analysis of the American Time Use Survey, which collects detailed time-use diaries from thousands of people each year. (“Making time for exercise in a busy day,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fitness Q&A,11/12/19, E17, accessed 11/12/19) What is it we do with all this extra time? Hint: it’s not reading, getting out in nature, or meditation. “Instead of exercising, we’re giving over the bulk of our free time to mobile, PC and TV screens.” For the purpose of...

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Power Talk Yourself into Activity

Power Talk Yourself into Activity

Politics aside, 86-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a role model for taking care of one’s body. I recently read that she “never stopped working out” after her fourth diagnosis with cancer…although she couldn’t always complete her full routine.” (“Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she never stopped working out during pancreatic cancer treatment” by Ariane de Vogue and Chandelis Duster, CNN, accessed 10/22/10, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/21/politics/ruth-bader-ginsburg-workout-cancer-recovery/index.html) Granted the article says that she has a personal trainer, but that doesn’t strike me as important as her strong will to take excellent care of herself. Here’s a woman who lives with cancer on her mind even when it’s not in her body. Recognizing the importance of good health, she doesn’t take it for granted. Someone in her shoes might just give up and most of us could sympathize with them. Why bother to do push ups when cancer might recur any day? The answer...

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How to Enjoy Exercise More

Would you like to love exercise? Would you settle for enjoying it a bit more, enough to do it regularly? To do so, you’ll have to erase the concept of “no pain, no gain” from your mind and follow the wisdom in “Maybe You’d Exercise More If It Didn’t Feel So Crappy” by Kathrine Hobson (538, 12/5/2017, www.538.com, accessed 12/13/17). Here are some interesting highlights from this article. “Research by David M. Williams, a clinical psychologist and professor at Brown University, and his colleagues has shown that how you feel during exercise predicts both current and future physical activity levels.” Most health coaches, trainers and therapists, including myself, try to motivate people to exercise by encouraging them to focus on how they’ll feel after exercise, not during it. Apparently, that’s not too helpful. Instead, researchers say that the goal is to find exercise more pleasurable as you do it. Try using “the ‘peak-end’...

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Focus on Fit, Not Fat

Most of my clients who carry more weight than they’d like believe that they cannot be healthy or fit because they are fat. They hyper-focus on weight, shape, body discomfort, and how others view them, and feel helpless and despairing over their size. They believe that fat equals unfit. Research tell us this is not the case, so listen up. A study published in the March 2009 issue of BMC Public Health proves that some people can be fat, yet fit. Their research concludes that both overweight and obese individuals can have healthy cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels if they eat healthfully and exercise. A Mayo Clinic study (American Heart Journal, 3/11) “found that overweight, high fitness (determined by cardiopulmonary exercise testing) subjects had a much lower risk of dying compared with normal-weight, low-fitness subjects.” Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (9/11), focuses...

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Exercise

A report in Prevention magazine (5/10/08, page 10) has got me going—“Research shows that typically half of all women drop out of exercise programs within the first 6 weeks of starting one. Most women say having little free time, a lack of confidence when exercising, and supportive friends and family are the main reasons they stop short of achieving their goals.” Superficially reasonable answers, sure, but based on my years of professional experience, researchers need to dig deeper to get at the real issues. Yes, many women are pressed for time. Working in and out of the home, trying to live up to cultural expectations, they’re overworked, overextended, and exhausted. But women with an all-or-nothing mentality generate an inner pressure to do everything and do it perfectly which prevents them from exercising—if they can’t do it all, they do nothing, if they can’t do it well, they don’t even try. So...

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Move Your Body

An article in the April issue of the Nutrition Action Health Letter on the correlation between moving your body more and weight loss intrigued me. James Levin, professor and researcher in the Division of Endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, heads something called the NEAT lab which studies the effect of body movement and expending energy on weight. NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is any movement that is not exertion for the sake of physical fitness. Levin’s studies conclude that by keeping moving we can burn off calories without formal exercise. Not that he eschews the activity; rather he encourages people to use NEAT along with exercise, saying, “If you look at an average sedentary person, 60% of total daily energy expenditure is basal metabolic rate, 30% is NEAT, and 10% is the thermal effect of food—the calories you burn to digest, absorb, and store the food you...

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Barriers to Exercise

Not a week goes by without someone I know commenting on disliking exercise. Although it’s likely that certain folks are born with more of an inclination move their bodies, that’s not the whole story. What’s important is to understand your story, you know, the one you tell yourself (and others) about why you don’t exercise. You probably have the best of intentions and recognize that exercise contributes to health and longevity, so knowledge isn’t the problem. How could any adult in this society not have gotten the 30-minutes-a-day message by now? Well, then, if you recognize the benefits of exercise and have the intention of doing it, what stops you? Although there are general answers, exact barriers are unique to each of you. Make a list of what stops you from exercising or regularly, intentionally keeping your body moving by walking, dancing, gardening, going to the gym, gyrating to a DVD...

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Body Image and Workouts

Research says that the exercise women select may contribute to attitudes about their bodies. Although I encourage you to do whatever exercises you enjoy, it’s interesting to consider which of those might—and might not—help improve your body image. Studies at Australia’s Flinders University surveyed women who attend health clubs. Their findings might surprise you: “Taking cardio classes was linked with mood uplift, but greater time [italics mine] spent on individual cardio workouts predicted body image concerns. Women who spent more time lifting weights and taking yoga or other mind/body-oriented classes were less likely to perceive the body as an object to be modified for the judgment of others.” Researchers concluded that activities which focus on body awareness, mental health, centering, and calmness are more likely to help women connect to the reason they exercise (for fitness and to feel good) and, therefore, work to improve their body image. Of course, women...

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Hunger and Exercise

The last thing I want to do is deter anyone from exercising. In one form or another, I engage in it daily and strongly believe that activity is an integral part of mental and physical health. So the conclusions of an article in the May 2009 issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter came as a surprise and were, I confess, a bit of a downer. “Exercise? I’m Hungry” sums up a study reported in the journal Obesity. Here’s what it has to say: ”If a clever experiment in college students holds up, just seeing advice to exercise might make you eat more. Scientists showed roughly 50 students posters with messages to exercise (like ‘Go for a walk’) or other messages (like ‘Make friends’). Those who saw the exercise ads ate more from a small bowl of raisins than those who saw the non-exercise ads. In a second experiment, students ate roughly...

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Keeping to Your Activity Schedule

It can be enjoyable to visit and stay with friends and relatives as well as for them to be guests in your home. However, whether you’re host or guest, these events may disrupt your activity schedule—but only if you let them. If you’re determined to take care of yourself because you wouldn’t have it any other way, this situation is no problem at all. Years ago, I got together with old friends for a few days at one of their homes. Because I try to do some form of activity daily, I made a point of suggesting we walk rather than sit around (which usually led to mindless snacking). After all, you can catch up with people walking as easily as you can over coffee, wine, beer, or a meal. One morning while my friends were lingering at the breakfast table (and picking at leftovers) long after the meal was over,...

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The Pleasure of Eating Healthfully and Being Fit

I was talking with a friend from Massachusetts (where I used to live) at the start of the new year and he mentioned that he’d been walking every morning before work even in five degree weather. Mentally shivering, I commented on how brave he was. His response: that he found great pleasure in walking and being fit. I agreed. So many of the disregulated eaters I work with see becoming and staying fit as a chore, a drudge, a bother—a frank pain in the butt. Many feel the same way about trying to eat healthfully. This is such a far cry from what a positive self-care attitude about health and fitness is that I want to let all know that there’s another way. When you eat nourishing food and keep your body active, you get a rush of good feelings. Some come from the sheer pleasure of movement and making caring...

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No Need to Over-exercise

Recently I came across an article on exercise which will help set you straight if you believe you must live at the gym or run marathons to lose weight. Rather than pushing a weight loss focus here, I’m sharing some enlightening and surprising research on exercise and shedding pounds. I’m a firm believer that the primary purpose for activity and exercise should be fitness, good health, and enjoying body movement.“Less exercise may do more to shed pounds” by Gretchen Reynolds (NY Times, 9/25/12) offers an unexpected take on exercise. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark “found that exercise does seem to contribute to waist-tightening, provided that the amount of exercise is neither too little nor, more strikingly, too much.” For the study, participants, all male, were discouraged from consciously changing their diets and divided into one control group which didn’t exercise, one which did moderate workouts, and another which...

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Do You Have an Exercise Addiction?

How do you know if you have an exercise addiction? After all, one hallmark of addiction is denial that it exists. In “Fit or Fanatic: When Does Exercise Become an Unhealthy Obsession?,” authors Carolyn Costin, MA, M.Ed., MFCC, CEDS and Dawn Theodore, MFT of Monte Nido and Affiliates lay out the criteria to use in making your assessment.Here are 11 questions to ask (adapted from Yates, 1991 and Maine, 2000):Do you maintain a high level of activity, not resting or taking time off even when ill or injured? Do you depend on exercise for self-definition, self-worth and mood stabilization? Do you judge your day as good or bad based on how much you exercised? Do you have an intense, driven quality to you exercise?Are you resistant or angry about any suggestion to reduce the amount of exercise you do? Do you seem to have or even express the lack of ability...

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How Being a Couch Potato Can Hurt You

Every time I go to blog about why it’s important to stay active and the dangers of being sedentary, my biggest fear is that readers will hear my words as one more lecture, one more poke in the back to remind them of what they’re not doing to be healthy and fit. So, I’m telling you upfront, I’m not trying to make you feel badly about yourself. I’m giving you information in order to help you take better care of yourselves. “Is it a brain, or a couch potato” (Health and Fitness, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 2/4/14, p. 16E) tells us that inactivity is capable of remodeling the brain and—you guessed it—not in a healthy way. Yet another rat study advises that “being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in ways that significantly affect not just the brain but the heart as well.” After almost three months, rats who missed out on...

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