Thursday, January 24, 2013

The One Ingredient Foods

Yesterday I blogged on From Beginning to End......about Pinterest. Please feel free to read the blog if you haven't already. Today is a bit of a carry over in the fact that if you are serious about a lifestyle/weight loss change....then never has so much information been at your fingertips before. Yes...literally at your fingertips by simply opening up the Pinterest website. Here you will find hundreds of weight loss programs, lifestyle ideas and workouts. There are also many inspirational thoughts to help keep you on track and remind you that you can do it! It is truly a treasure trove of links to information. Much of it is information that in all of my years of "dieting" that even I didn't know.

I think one of the most interesting things that I have read of late was on a site that I did not pin. Silly me. Well...actually I think I went from Pinterest to another site and then another site and the site where I read this was not pinable. None the less...the information was interesting and made a lot of sense. It talked about why sometimes we think we are doing everything right as far as how we eat....and yet time after time....the scales refuse to budge. It is probably one of the most frustrating experiences you can have. Especially when how we continue to eat is often based on current results. When you know that not one piece of cheesecake, not one McDonalds burger or one second helping has passed your lips and yet your weight has remained the same for one week, two weeks...sometimes even three just want to throw up your hands and head for the nearest bag of jelly beans.

The fact is...if you are eating certain breads, low-fat and sugar free everything, then you may just be defeating yourself. According to the article....when they take out the fat and the sugar....they are replacing these products with additives and chemicals that can be much worse than eating the whole fat, real sugar items. Once eaten...your body often has difficulty breaking these additives and chemicals down....and these foods can cause even more of a fat store in your body than the real thing. Our bodies were not designed to process foods with additives that we can't even pronounce. It has also been shown through testing that foods like real butter are much better for you than margarine or diet margarine. And while we are taking about margarine....I heard the other day a little story about margarine. Not sure if it is true or not....but it certainly wouldn't surprise me. Do you know the origins of margarine? It was originally used as something to fatten up turkeys. was making the turkeys sick and even killing them. It was apparently made/manufactured in huge quantities and rather than waste that which was not used...yellow dye was added to it...along with some flavoring and viola....what was killing off turkeys is now what we eat on our toast. YUK! My point is....just because a commercial tells you that something is diet and you will lose weight on it...or that something is good for you.....doesn't mean it is true.

Going back to the says what most of us already know if we use our common sense. The best foods to eat and make our bodies run optimally not to mention help us to lose weight and keep our metabolism in shape are single ingredient foods. We are talking fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, chicken and fish. These are foods with no fillers or added ingredients and you know exactly what you are eating. You can even take your meat choices a step further and purchase only organically raised cattle and chicken and organic fruits and veggies are widely available too. Where we run into trouble is when we eat a lot of processed foods, boxed mix foods and again diet foods. So much that is unnecessary and actually works against our bodies go into these products and cause us not to lose and even in some cases gain weight. It can be a frustrating and health deteriorating cycle.

Now least 80% of us are products of the processed foods, fat free foods and sugar free generation. Since I had my first TAB back in the 1970's I have fallen victim to diet soda's and have such a taste for fake sugar...that often the real thing in soda's and other products tastes too sweet to me. The diet soda however....does not make me less hungry or crave sugar any less. On the contrary....studies have shown that diet soda's can make your sugar cravings even worse...and it is down right scary what these chemicals might be doing to our bodies long term. Water and tea can do far more for both your health and weight loss and they won't cause the cravings. in a world of processed, additive and chemical ridden is hard to quit cold turkey....especially when many of these foods come in quick and easy form for those nights when time is short and kids are hungry. Still....perhaps re-evaluating our diet and what we are putting in both our mouths and the mouths of our children is worth spending a little extra time in the kitchen.

So back to weight loss. If we stick to the single ingredient foods like fruits and veggies....we are giving our bodies healthy foods that work naturally in our systems and help us to stay fuller longer. Lean meat gives us the protein we need and a good whole grain bread with little added sugar will help to fill out a healthy eating regimen. Also....if you cut back to the are going to start seeing the scales move south while at the same time you will start to feel better and have more energy.....and the biggest added bonus eating one ingredient are no longer filling your diet with added salt, added sugar, added dyes and added chemicals and additives with too many syllables to even pronounce, let alone process.

Now no one is saying that you have to completely cut out that diet Coke, your sugar free yogurt or your once in a blue moon Chicken McNuggets. But I am betting that if you go the one ingredient route and start tasting real food not covered up by artificial flavorings and seasonings...that the diet soda and Chicken McNuggets just might not be quite as appetizing as they once were.

I myself am once again going to try to break up with diet soda and eat more one ingredient items. I am anxious to see how my scales react and how my body feels. I would also like to hear from you. Have you kicked the additive and chemical habit? Are processed foods a thing of the past in your life? Let us know as together we continue on our journey to health, fitness and lifestyle change.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Fat Generation

I was thinking yesterday. Yes....I do that occasionally. It was actually a long drawn out thought...but one that I think holds quite a bit of merit. Yes....I actually do have those kinds of thoughts on occasion. My thought process took me from my mothers humble beginnings in the 1930' today. It kind of answered some questions for me and woke me up to some facts about the why's of obesity in America. I now welcome you to the inner workings of my mind!........Things change. Lifestyles change and with does the way we eat. My mom was born in 1936 and she left home in 1954. During that time you had cities and you had small towns and rural farms. The majority of the country lived in those small towns and rural farms and their lives and lifestyles clear down to their diets were vastly different from today.

Growing up during the 30's, 40's and 50's....modern convenience was considered water actually running into the house. Air conditioning was a fan and open windows and you heated your house with a little coal oil stove. Mom would often talk about not having an indoor bathroom until she was in high school which meant no matter how went outside to do your business. Days started around 4:00 a.m. as the animals were always fed and taken care of before the family ate. Breakfast usually consisted of eggs, bread and some form of meat (sausage, bacon, etc.). In the winter sometimes there would also be oatmeal. After breakfast the men would head back to the animals, the barn or the field and the women would clean up breakfast and start whatever work that day held. Lunch was always at noon and unless it was during harvest (lunch was then taken to the field) everyone met back at the house for a summertime lunch of garden fresh vegetables and bread or a winter time lunch of canned meat and vegetables....oh and bread. After lunch everyone went back to work until supper which was served promptly at 5. Supper was usually a main meat course, at least two vegetables, bread and sometimes a pie or fruit for dessert. All meals were served with fresh butter for the bread and whole raw milk. Most meat was fried and gravies and sauces were made with cream. No one had ever heard of "diet", "fat free" or "sugar free" foods and over weight people were few and far between. My mother was the youngest of 11 and there wasn't a plump one in the bunch. So how did people eat like that and stay thin? Because from the moment their feet hit the floor of a morning until they went to bed at night....they never stopped moving. Their days were often 16-18 hours long and almost every minute was filled with activity.

There were no modern conveniences. When the wash was done it was done on washboards and ringer washers. Both took much work and a certain amount of strength. Bread was baked at least every other day and if you have ever properly kneaded one loaf of bread....then you can imagine the calorie burn of kneading a dozen or more. Batters were beaten by hand as were egg whites and cream. There were no mixers so imagine again the strength it took to properly make a meringue. Cleaning was done without the benefit of a vacuum and floors were scrubbed by getting on your hands and knees and actually scrubbing. When housework was done, there was always the canning and the gardening to do and lets not forget chasing after kids. Men spent their days either in the fields preparing the ground, planting the ground or harvesting the ground, repairing that which needed fixed and taking care of animals. Work for most families started at 4 a.m. and ended well after 6 p.m. and the kids were not exempt either. In the winter they were up with their parents helping either with the animals or in the house. After breakfast they would go to school, then come home to help some more. After supper they would do their homework, go to bed and start again the next day. In the summer they often worked side by side with their parents. Entertainment was self made and never would you find a child just sitting doing nothing. Kids and adults alike must have had the ultimate in metabolisms as their bodies appeared to burn as much if not more than the calories they took in. I am sure that a nutritionist would have a stroke just thinking about the calories, carbs and fat that these people ingested on a daily basis, but the upside was.....even the canned food was preservative free. Dairy had no hormones or additives nor did the meat. Almost everything they ate came from their own farm. The fruits and vegetables they grew, the bread was made from scratch and the only store bought elements that made it into their kitchens were flour (which was usually fresh ground at a local mill) and sugar. So while there was butter, sugar, fried food and cream in their diet....there were no chemicals, preservatives and additives....and they weren't fat....but they were fit!

When I was growing up...women who had grown up without modern conveniences now had them. Washing machines, dryers, vacuums and dishwashers had taken the place of hard labor. Laundry that once would have taken hours was now done in minutes, floors were neatly kept with just the push of a motorized broom and dishes were sparkling in a fraction of the time with a fraction of the work. It was a new world as those from the farms had moved to suburbia. Men's lives too had changed as most had traded in 14 hour days on the farm to 8 hour days at the office or plant with only the weekly yard work on Saturday. We had cut work hours off our days and cut work effort by at least half. Kids now instead of working with our parents spent our winter months going to school and then coming home to watch tv. Summertime though we usually spent every waking hour outdoors playing in the neighborhood. Since tv only had three channels and our houses only had one tv and our moms watched their soaps....outside was much more fun.

Even with the change in our lifestyles and activity....women still cooked very much the same way and the same foods that they grew up with. The only difference was....the food was purchased. No longer was the milk raw, the vegetables home grown or the meat freshly butchered by their own hands. Now everything came from the grocery store and because of this....we really didn't know for sure what was being added to our food. Still eating like we just came off the farm....our highly efficient metabolisms started to slow. The amount of food going in was often more than the amount of activity we were expending to burn it off. Thus began societies slide into obesity.

Next came women going to work. When women either chose or had to go to work....they quickly found that they were not in fact Super Woman and slowly certain things started falling through the cracks. What began to suffer most? Meals! Women quickly realized that getting up in the morning and trying to get themselves and everyone else up, dressed and ready to walk out the door in time for everyone to be at school and work on time was a daunting task. Breakfast soon went from bacon and eggs, to cold cereal, to some prepackaged pop tart to often....nothing. It was the first meal in the American home to suffer. The one thing that even today most nutritionist will tell you is that breakfast is ALWAYS important. Your body has already gone 8-12 hours without food. If you skip breakfast you are adding another 4-6 hours. By the time you have lunch, your body is already in starvation mode thinking that there will be no food so it must conserve energy and protect itself. This is when our metabolism begins to slow thus we stop burning calories efficiently and what we take in starts turning to fat.

With Mom working....lunch for kids became the hot lunches at school. They were often comprised of high fat, high sugar and high carb meals. Meanwhile Mom and Dad were catching the quick burger and fries for lunch as it was the only thing they could grab quickly and get back to work. Suppertime also began to morph into something different. Since Mom didn't have all day to prepare a four course dinner for her hungry family, prepackaged and quick fix meals started becoming the norm. Meals that once would have taken hours had now been condensed into under an hour. What became convenient for Mom also became less healthy for her family. Sugar, fat and additives became the main sources of the evening meal.

Along with the hit that meals and nutrition were taking, our activity levels were beginning to dwindle too. Cable tv offered us 100 channels instead of just 3. With those channels came music channels which offered 24/7 music videos. Teenagers were hooked and would race home from school to sit in front of MTV and watch their favorite artists for hours. Then came video games. With each passing year the games became more skilled, more challenging and more prevalent. Neighborhoods that used to be full of kids playing outside became empty as those same kids were spending literally hours either watching one of the hundreds of channels on tv or trying to beat the next level on some video game. Parents too had fallen prey to the mystical, magical cable box. After a long day of sitting behind a desk at work....they could now unwind to hours of mindless reality tv or watching "others" play sports. And with this slow down in that would have seemed like a breeze to our 1930's counterparts (especially with every modern convenience we currently have) gradually became even more overwhelming to modern day us. Eight hours behind a desk leaves us physically and mentally drained. So drained in fact that we don't have the time or energy to hit the gym for an hour or even take a walk. We are too tired to cook dinner so we hit the drive-thru or go out. We are too tired for family activity so we sit in our living room or bedroom and watch tv while our kids sit in their bedroom or den and watch their shows or play video games. None of us moves unless it is to get a snack between commercials or to go the bathroom (indoor plumbing by the way). Our diets are comprised of fat, carbs and high calories, often no more than two meals a day and unhealthy snacks and soda's in between. Most of us have the activity level to burn off the calories of tic tac and we wonder why we are a nation of obesity. When did we become the fat generation?

Yeah....that train of thought was a wake up call. In fact....I think I would be embarrassed if my grandparents who could work efficiently and laborsomely for 16 hours a day, 365 days a year were to take a glimpse at my current life. With all the modern conveniences I have.....I am exhausted after a day of house cleaning. When I worked....behind a desk mind the time I got home, I had no energy left. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with society and worse....what examples are we setting for our children? If we have fallen so far, gotten so lazy and our nutrition and metabolisms have taken such a major hit in the last couple of generations....where do they have left to fall in the next couple of generations? In a country with all the medical advancements we have.....we should be living well beyond our 70's and well into our 90' we aren't. We are willfully killing ourselves with fast food, prepackaged food, additives, chemicals, preservatives and most of all...inactivity. We are setting our bodies up for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and strokes and we are literally cutting precious years off our lives. Again I ask.....What is wrong with us? 

While I don't have all the answers....I do have some common sense thoughts. My first thought is to cut the cable. TV is not only a mindless, souless machine, but cable is expensive and precious family hours have been lost to it's mesmerizing affects. And lets face it....with tv and 30 channels of news and talk shows....we no longer have to think for ourselves. We can let CNN, MSNBC or even FOX think for us. How about taking some of the money saved from paying for cable and taking the kids to the zoo or maybe a museum or even save it for a family vacation?! Another thought is....if you are too busy or crunched for time in the morning to actually make a breakfast from scratch....take a Saturday and make and freeze pancakes, waffles, pigs-in-a-blanket or muffins. Pull them out of a morning and microwave them. Add a piece of fruit and you have a good breakfast in seconds. Make your kids lunch the night before instead of having them buy the school lunch (much of which makes it to the trash instead of their stomachs). That way you have control over what goes into them. Crock pots are wonderful creations and everything from soups and stews, to roasts, chickens and pork chops can be hot, ready and waiting at the end of a busy day with very little work. Some other ideas..limit video games and your own facebook (fb) and social networking time. Give your kids and yourself 1 hour of video/computer time for every 1 hour of activity time. Finally....avoid the temptation of fast food which is both unhealthy and expensive and avoid as much pre-packaged food as possible. Plan ahead meals which will help not only your food budget (you will buy only what you need for your menu), but will also help you to organize so that your can both work and still make sure your family eats healthy. Finally.....stop buying the chips, soda's and junk food. Replace those things with fresh fruit and vegetables, 100% fruit juices and good ol' water. It's not rocket science.

We have shown that with each new generation and the new conveniences that arrive, we as a society are subject to and very susceptible to the down side they bring. Conveniences were intended to make our lives easier....not to kill us off faster. It is up to us to moderate ourselves and even cut things out that effect ourselves and our families negatively. More is imperative that we set examples for our children and grandchildren of both healthy choices, healthy habits and an all around healthy lifestyle. If we don't....I shudder the thought of where we will be in the coming generations.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You've Got to Move It...Move It! Beginner Style

Amazing! Two days in a row. This must mean that at least my mind is ready to get up and get going. Hoping the body will be ready to follow in a day or two.

The other day I heard someone say that if it weren't for exercise...working out wouldn't be so bad. I had to laugh. People have a mind set that if you are to lose weight through exercise...that "working out" (i.e. lifting weights, jogging and doing aerobics until you drop) are the only path to success. To that I say.....NOT TRUE!

Now before I continue let me reiterate something I have said a number of times in this blog. Before you start any kind of an exercise/workout sure and talk to your doctor. Depending on your weight, your age and your over all health there could be certain restrictions as to what he/she would like you to safely do...especially in the beginning. But in most cases....they will not only okay but encourage some form of activity to get you up and moving.

That being said....there aren't a lot of us that are truly excited about working out....EVER! Lets face it, if we had the choice to sit in our recliner and watch our favorite tv show or to get up and exercise....our recliner and tv are going to win out every time. And that is why we need to move more than anything. Our recliner and tv are part of the reason why we are fat, unhealthy and completely out of shape. If there was a zombie apocalypses right now....I am pretty sure I would be the first to go! Yep...that's just how out of shape I am.

So what is the cure for those of us who NEED to exercise but hate the thought of bar bells and sit ups? MOVING! That's right. Like the song says...."You've got to move it...move it...move it!" If you are a beginner (i.e. haven't exercised since Reagan was president) then for most of us....jumping into jumping jacks, push ups and a mile run won't work. Your body is not prepared for that straight out of the gate. You can't go from A to Z in the alphabet without hitting the other letters first and the same goes for exercise. You can't go from your only exercise being walking from the kitchen to the recliner and then suddenly run a marathon. Your muscles, along with your heart and lungs are out of shape and they need conditioning. However....just for fun and if you really want to test yourself now and then check on your progress later on down the line there is a little test called the *Move It Move It test which you can do your first day of exercise and then retest yourself a month later. I will post it at the end of this blog.You might just be surprised at your progress.

Now....let me say a little bit about exercise. If you are overweight...chances are that there is a reason aside from the obvious...that you eat too much and you don't move enough. Perhaps you live a high stress lifestyle. Maybe you suffer from mild depression or maybe you use food to mask emotions. While this sounds a bit psycho babbly...the fact is that food is often how we make ourselves feel better which in turn makes us fat. If someone hurts our feelings we reach for the Hagen Das, if we are mad we reach for the chips and sometimes when we are blissfully happy...we celebrate with food. For just a few can heal a broken heart, fill a void and make us happier than sex, but just as quickly it can make us feel horrible about ourselves, our willpower and our lives. What most people don't know is that exercise can do all that food can do with none of the bad side effects. When you are mad...if you punch a punching bag for 10 minutes instead of reaching for that ice will get the same euphoric feeling with the added bonus of calorie burn and no self loathing afterwards. If you go for a walk when you are sad instead of reaching for the clears the head, it honestly helps the pain and your metabolism is jolted into burning calories up to an hour after you take that walk. Bottom line is that exercise can give you all the same feelings as a half a cheesecake without the regret later. Of course exercise has more than just psychological benefits such as muscle building, weight loss and setting you on track for a healthier you, but in my way of thinking....the psychological benefits are the most important. It teaches you to handle the world around you in a healthy way. Studies show that those who exercise regularly have less depression and are more productive in the work place. Who knew that exercise was the "magic pill" we have all wanted and it is as close as getting up out of the recliner and moving?

So if not the pushups and toe touches...then what is exercise? Exercise is anything that gets you moving and gets your heart rate up for a period of time. Can't afford a gym membership? No problem. Go up and down your stairs 4-5 times in a row and then gradually increase. Waiting for your laundry to finish? Grab the fabric softener and the Clorox bottles and do 10 curls. Think you hate sports in general? Try getting a punching bag and gloves (usually priced $50-$100) and start out punching for 10 minutes and work your way up. You will be amazed how much frustration and aggression can come out in just a short session and how much better you feel afterwards. Do you like to dance? Want to learn? The internet is full of free instructional videos on line dancing. Pull some up and give it a go right in the privacy of your own living room. You will be amazed at how much fun you have. Before you know will have sweated your way through a half hour workout and love every second of it. If you have a Wii game system for your kids.....get yourself a Wii fit game or a dance game. These will have you up and moving and some of them even have built in monitors to monitor your progress. There is also biking, bowling and the greatest exercise of all...WALKING!

Walking is the exercise that almost anyone of any size and any fitness level can do. If you are severely overweight and out of shape, start by walking to the end of the block and back. Gradually you can add on from there. While I love walking is not always permitting but that shouldn't stop you. If you have access to a treadmill you can easily bring your walk indoors or if no treadmill....there are walking videos you can purchase and even some online that take you through a one mile walk right in your own living room. However you want to do Walking is often the cornerstone of any beginner workout. You may start with walking only to the end of the block and find yourself soon walking a couple of miles per day.

The point I am trying to make is....whether you choose to walk, dance or maybe you want to get creative with house work or possibly you want to beat the tar out of a punching bag.....however you want to do it.....get up and MOVE IT! Start out with as little as 10 minutes 3 times per week and gradually add time until you get yourself up to half an hour and then an hour. I guarantee you will see the effects in how you feel both mentally and physically and you will see your body change as you start to shed pounds. Of course I would be remiss if I didn't throw in that exercise must go hand in hand with eating healthier and choosing  healthier foods over high fat and processed foods. We will be talking more about good food choices in later blogs. Today though...I give you a challenge. Take 10 minutes and move. Walk outside, walk your stairs or try some dance moves. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you are up and moving. Let today be the first day of a healthier you.

So there you have it. The magic pill is exercise and the key is you. Now lets get up and Move It....beginner style!

*The Move It Move It Test

Day One of Exercise
In 1 minute I can do _____ situps
In 1 minute I can do _____ pushups
In 1 minute I can do _____ toe touches
I can run/walk a mile in _____ minutes

After one month of moving/exercise at least 3 times per week, take the test again. Where are you now? Continue taking the test monthly and watch yourself progress. 

One Month of Exercise
In 1 minute I can do _____ situps
In 1 minute I can do _____ pushups
In 1 minute I can do _____ toe touches
I can run/walk a mile in _____ minutes

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

You Too Can Be The Biggest Loser

Yep...I am dusting off this blog again. To be hasn't been far from my thoughts of late, but I just haven't been of the mindset to actually blog here.

Something you may not know about me is....I procrastinate and avoid. Yes..tis true. If I don't want to think about or know something (for example me current number on the scale) I will avoid. If I don't want to do something or think about something...I will procrastinate. I am not sure whether this is hereditary or not but for my own peace of mind we will say it is.

The last time I posted here was sometime in September I believe, and I was talking about diets, exercise and what works. Since...I have done little to no exercise (what can I is busy) and I have stuck to no certain diet (again with the life excuse). I have however been fairly careful about what I eat and tried to stay away from that which is not healthy. My biggest diet secret thus far though: having the flu for almost a month. Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scales and found that my current weight is less than it is has been in almost a decade. Trust me though....this is not a diet I would recommend nor wish on my worst enemy. The trouble with this diet too is...when your appetite and health are back to normal....the weight can creep back if not careful.

I am still not a 100% although I think my appetite has returned, so there is the issue of eating normally without the normal activity....let alone any exercise. Still...I am determined to move forward and not backslide into weight gain and unhealthy eating habits. One thing I have gotten in a bad habit of is eating only once a day. Number one rule in the healthy eating book is that this is a no no! Why? Because eating only once a day puts your body into starvation mode. Your body actually believes that it is starving therefore it slows your metabolism and starts destroying muscle instead of fat. Up until now it wasn't a huge worry because being sick obviously burns calories but at the stage I am at...there isn't a whole lot of calorie burn going on. The problem body is not hungry until about 2 or 3 p.m. and trying to eat anything before then results in my stomach thinking it may keep nothing down. After about 2 though...I am actually hungry. Even then though...I can only eat about half of what I used to and then I am done. This maybe the only thing saving me at this point as far as gaining goes. I am probably not eating enough to sustain a weight gain. Another problem is that I have relied on diet soda to get me through this illness. Diet Mt. Dew and I are not only going steady again....we are having a heated affair. It is the only thing that has sounded good to me, thus....I have drank it daily and with much love. Yesterday I ran out and I am going to attempt a cold turkey or at least a luke warm turkey the rest of the week in hopes that I can ween myself off the soda and start drinking water and tea again.

Yes....I know that my current weight although I am ecstatic over only smoke and mirrors and that there is likely going to be a gain before there is any true loss, but for today.....I do the happy weight loss dance and take the small victories when and where I can.

Moving on.....we know there is an epidemic of obesity in our nation. Everyone of us is either overweight or has a family member or friend who is. And I am not just talking a few pounds....I am talking life threatening obesity. Why? Because we have such sedentary life styles. A good percent of us work behind desks and when we are home we relax with tv, movies or video games. We are tired and we don't want to take the extra few minutes it would take to fix a healthy McDonalds, KFC and Taco Bell become a several times a week ritual. We see this all around us and quite possibly I have just described your own family life. No longer is seeing an overweight person an anomaly. It is now the norm. This was brought home to me yesterday as I was watching an early Roseanne show. I remember when she first came on tv....I thought she was huge. Of course the show played off her weight but I remember thinking that she was one of the bigger women I had ever seen. Certainly the only one of her size who had their own sitcom. Yesterday I realized today's world...she is more normal than someone who is really thin. Early Roseanne no longer looks unusual to me. What does that say about where the world has gone in the last fifteen years? Obesity is no longer a minority group of people. It is fast becoming the norm.

I think this new norm is why shows like The Biggest Loser (TBL) impress me so. The new norm is no longer a size 8-10. The new norm is now closer to a size 22. If you go into a store where they have regular size clothes (0-16) and plus size clothes (18-26) will almost always find more people looking in the plus size than the regular size. The people who are on TBL are at the top of the plus size scale and some are even over it. Their health is in jeopardy, they have mobility issues and they are eating themselves into an early grave. They have lost self respect, dignity and are quickly losing their health....they have nothing left to lose but the weight, so the women dawn exercise bra's and shorts and the men go shirtless with shorts and the whole world gets to see their years of unhealthy eating, binge eating, stress eating and addictive eating. Every bulge and roll show for all of America to see and yet they gladly put themselves on display in such a way in hopes that this is the last time they will weigh that weight and look that way. This for them is a new life.

Granted....those on TBL have 24/7 support and the worlds best personal trainers working with them every day, but if they don't do the work laid out for them....all the support and trainers mean nothing. Yes...the numbers the losers lose weekly are huge, but they don't starve themselves....they simply workout like someone training for the Olympics. They also learn good eating habits, portion control and have the ultimate goal....a cash prize to motivate them. Why does TBL seem to work so well? My thoughts are that it gives those on the show first of all the incentive to change and look like the person they have always wanted to be. Second it motivates monetarily and brings in competition. Those are three pretty large reasons to change. More important than those things makes the contestants not only take the weight off....but helps them to figure out why they got so big in the first place. When you know what your makes it a lot easier to win. It also teaches them real life solutions to eating. It is not a diet it is a real lifestyle change and something they can take away from the show with them and implement in their real life. shows these former couch potatoes what they can do if they remove themselves from the couch. Some of these people never knew they could walk a mile let alone run it. Each time they stretch themselves and accomplish something new in their workout....they learn something new about themselves and what they can accomplish in life.

I know many people watch TBL and see the struggle that comes with each pound lost and we all cheer them on with each new accomplishment....but that is where it stops for most of us. We come up with a thousand and one reasons why that is them....and this is us and we can't possibly accomplish what they do. We have no 24 hour supervision, we have no personal trainer and for many of us....we don't have a support group that is willing to cheer on our accomplishments and help pick us up if we stumble and set us back on the right track. The fact is though...we don't need to be on tv to be a biggest loser. All you really need is the following: 1) A desire to be healthy 2) The ability to do some research and find an eating lifestyle that works for you. If you are a do-it-yourselfer and like to prepare your own meals....try something like Weight Watchers. If you think you would do better having your meals prepared for you and you have the money...try Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem. 3) Again with the research.....and find a workout program that works for you. There are videos that start with beginner and work their way up or check out your nearest gym. The Y is a great and economical place to start. You have the availability of a workout facility fully stocked with machines to help you tighten and tone every inch of your body and burn fat too, plus there are classes to take and if money can even get a personal trainer of your own. 4) Finally....find yourself a support system. If your family isn't supportive at first (they usually jump on board when they start seeing the results of your hard work) then find someone or a group outside your family. It can be a friend, someone in your weight loss group or a gym buddy. Often times while you are getting can also be giving some of your own. There may not be a monetary prize at the end....but just like the biggest losers on tv, you will look better, feel better, have better health, have a lifestyle change and know that you have accomplished goals that up until now you thought only happened on tv or in your dreams. And of course there will be that new wardrobe that you will have no choice but to buy!

Weight most things, does not happen over night. You did not gain 20, 50 or 100 pounds overnight, it took days and weeks of work. Losing it can take some time and there are likely to be bumps and chug holes in the road to try and derail you but weight loss is attainable. Being healthy and fit are not just pipe dreams and you too can be TBL. Just remember: The longest journey starts with just one step.

So hopefully the flu is on the way out. I have an amazing support system in my both family and friends and I am ready to see what I can accomplish in 2013. Now I hope you will excuse me while I get back to my happy weight loss dance!