Part IV: Ingredients – You get out what you put in…

Weight Loss Unmasked: A five part series looking deeper at why we struggle with losing weight

By Briana Boehmer

I’m amazed at how little we pay attention to the content of the food we eat.  As I walked through the grocery story this evening I took a moment to grab items I NEVER entertain buying.  I wanted to remind myself of WHY I don’t buy them.  First ingredient SUGAR…okay, don’t need that.  Yellow lake 5…mmmm, what food group is that?  Hydrogenated…what?  If you read a label and you have to think about what you are reading, put the item BACK!

My point is simple – what VALUE does the food you are eating have to your body?  What will it DO FOR YOU?  Just like when you got to a financial advisor to help you build your portfolio, go to food to help build a strong, healthy body.  Just liking saving money for retirement, what you eat now has a huge impact on quality of life down the road.

I know the question you are now asking…”What do I eat then?!”  I do believe that is a very personal question sometimes, however there are GREAT tools you can use to help guide your food choices.   I was fortunate to listen to a brilliant man by the name of Dr. David Katz speak last year at a state wellness conference.  He is the brains behind an innovative nutrition labeling system called NuVal.  The system is VERY SIMPLE.  The NuVal System scores food on a scale of 1-100. The higher the NuVal Score, the better the nutrition.  Check it out here: http://www.nuval.com/

What I LOVE about NuVal is that it takes into account the true nutritional value of the food you eat.  Medical and nutrition experts lead by Dr. Katz and the Yale Prevention Research Center spent two years to develop the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI™), a complex and advanced algorithm which converts complex nutritional information into a single, easy-to-use score – The NuVal Score.  The score goes beyond the basic nutrition label to really determine what value the food has. It considers 30-plus nutrients and nutrition factors – the good (protein, calcium, vitamins) and the not-so-good (sugar, sodium, cholesterol).  In a nutshell it weighs the good with the bad to produce a number you can trust to make better decisions about nutrition in just a few seconds.

First things first, I’m not saying you need to memorize the NuVal score for every food you eat.  What I am saying is that you should take the time to understand what the foods you eat are providing your body.  For example, a cereal I have always loved, Kashi Strawberry Fields, has a NuVal score of 10!  Compare that to blueberries…they have a score of 100!  For examples of NuVal scores follow this link: http://www.nuval.com/scores

The biggest drawback right now with NuVal is that you can only find them posted in certain grocery stores across the nation.  Check out if a store near you displays them: http://www.nuval.com/location.  If you do not have a store near you that supports NuVal, suggest that your local market start to!  Also take time to search through the NuVal website.  There are some great educational resources to take advantage of – Like suggestions on how to replace foods you eat with better choices (they call “trading up”) and an interactive “nutrition by the numbers” game where you can test your knowledge on the foods you eat!

Understanding what you are putting in your body is one of the fundamental components of successful behavior change and weight loss.  NuVal is one tool I feel has significant merit.  Knowledge truly is power…when you know what you are buying you are more apt to think twice.

Read the other blogs in this weight loss series:

  1. Part 1: You Have to EAT to Lose Weight
  2. Part 2: Food Journaling Matters A LOT
  3. Part 3: All Calories Were NOT Created Equal

Healthy Nutrition and Food Stocking Basics for Beginners

c/o: US Department of Agriculture

“Healthy” is a tricky term because most everything these days seems to be tilted that direction in some way. If you’re not a nutritionist, or a fitness fanatic, it’s hard to know where to begin and what to buy. Keeping your kitchen healthy doesn’t have to be so hard. Start with some simple basics from the lists we’ve put together for you below. Having these items in your food pantry will help tremendously towards well balanced meals and well balanced health.

Fat, oil and sweets, when chosen well, can lead to a healthy heart. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered good fats. Saturated and trans fats are considered bad fats. Watch for those terms on labels. Keep limitations on things like butter, cheese and ice cream. Replace butter with vegetable oils and red meat with fish or white meat poultry. Utilize this category sparingly in your diet. In other words: don’t overindulge. For more in depth information on which fats are good and which are bad, click here.

  • Avocado
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Olive, sunflower, soy oil
  • Flaxseed
  • Hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds
  • Olives

Protein fills you up without filling up your whole plate. keep your energy high throughout the day by adding protein sources to your snacks and meals. These are some easy things you can stock up on. To learn more about how protein affects your diet, click here.

  • Seafood – tuna and especially salmon, which provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • White-meat poultry
  • Eggs
  • Kidney, white, black beans, chickpeas – great to add to salads, rice or as a side dish. They contain fiber as well, so they’ll keep you full!
  • Meal replacement drinks/energy bars – get your protein in on a tight timeline
  • Yogurt/Milk/Cheese – keep small amounts of these handy to add to meals and recipes to get your calcium intake and add some flavor!

Fruits and vegetables provide a good punch of vitamins and minerals throughout your day. When you’re picking what to stock up on, think whole, raw and dark. Canned, syrupy options are filled with sugars and contain very little health benefit. Picking up whole fruits and veggies give you the best nutrients. Dark, leafy vegetables should be a staple in your diet a few times a week. If you’re a vegetarian, these can be substituted for meat as well. And, be careful how much oil, butter or dressings you use on them. For more about fruits and veggies, or some yummy recipes, click here.

  • Pomegranate
  • Legumes
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Asparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Sweet potato
  • Broccoli
  • Mango
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries)

Carbs can be beneficial if eaten in the right amount. They provide your body with fuel to burn through throughout the day. You will want to have a good stock of whole grains to choose from. Keep bread to a minimum and use fruits, vegetables and proteins to add flavor versus sauces, toppings and dips. For more information about what carbs can do for your body, click here.

  • Quinoa
  • Steel cut oats
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole wheat couscous
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice

Next time you hit the grocery store, think whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Stick to the outside aisles except for beans, peanut butter and meal replacements like protein drinks or bars. Stay away from fruit juices, canned fruits and vegetables and packaged items. When you hit the kitchen, fill up your belly on more protein than carbs. Use seeds, nuts, bean salads and fruits/veggies for snacks.

What fills your kitchen now? If you threw out all that wasn’t on this list – what would be left?

Part III: All Calories Were NOT Created Equal

Weight Loss Unmasked: A five part series looking deeper at why we struggle with losing weight

Photo c/o: dailyfood

By Briana Boehmer

We’ve all heard it, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. I spent nearly 2 years researching and working on energy metabolism post college and sure enough, fundamentally a calorie no matter how you cut it is a calorie. A calorie is a measure of energy derived from food. However, it’s important to look at the big picture…it’s just not that simple! When it comes to weight loss and how your body processes energy in relation to your daily needs the SOURCE of your calories can make a difference.

There is still a lot of research to be done on low-carb, low-fat, and every other form of diet combination out there. Researchers are working hard daily to unravel the mysteries around how we gain and lose weight. Yet let’s not forget a very important concept: Too much of ANYTHING can have serious health implications (yes, there can be too much of a good thing). Your body needs each of the three macronutrients – carbohydrates, fat and protein for a reason. Hence you need to carefully consider your PERSONAL needs for each when looking at your daily nutrition.

It is my contention that we are certainly not undernourished in this country, but we are MALNOURISHED. Simply put, we don’t get all of the essential nutrients we need to truly fuel our body to optimal health. Think of it this way, if you ate chocolate all day and made sure it was just the “right” amount to meet your needs would that be healthy? Of course not, you would be missing so much nutrition from your diet…so in this case a calorie is not a calorie in that they are not all created equal!

Ok, so now you’re asking how do I find and eat the BEST calories and lose weight? That is the million dollar question. You have your own unique needs, so again make sure you focus on your body. However, when starting to change your diet for the better determine how well you are supplying your body with the following:

  • Fiber: Instrumental in digestive health, fiber is not able to be completely digested by your body and hence has shown positive results in relation to weight loss. Fiber tends to have a satiating effect and helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Protein: Beyond the obvious nutritional value of protein for your body, it also is the most satiating of the three macronutrients.
  • Fruits and Veggies: When I have my clients log their food I am always shocked at how low fruit and veggie consumption tends to be. I have had many people say they are getting in “plenty” of these two vital food groups, yet when the rubber hits the road they are severely lacking. Start simple and journal your fruit and veggie consumption…I bet you’ll be surprised at what you find.

I have one final task for you – Take the time to journal your food in 411Fit.com for TWO weekdays and ONE weekend.  In my next blog I will have you assign nutritional “values” to the food you consumed so that you can see first-hand the impact of the calories you are eating!

Want to know more? Check out the first two parts of this blog series, Part I: You Have To EAT To Lose Weight and Part 2:Food Journaling Matters A LOT.

We All Start Somewhere With Weight Loss. Don’t Hide Yourself.

By: Guest Blogger Jessica Barczewski

Who am I? What a question. This little question keeps popping up along with “What do I want?” and “Who do I want to be?” The truth is, as it is for all of us, these are not questions that I have thought much about and instead try to avoid because of fear of the answer. So let me just start from the beginning.

All of my life, I can remember that I was big. Maybe not always overweight, but my feet, for example, were too big for the box on my birth certificate. I never wore newborn size shoes, and by the time I started school I wore a shoe size bigger than my mom. By the time I entered school, my dad could no longer carry me on his shoulders and my mom could not bounce me on her knee. Before I entered middle school, I was already wearing plus size women’s clothes. But I never saw it. Oh sure I saw a stomach and a double chin, but in pictures of myself I never saw myself as being overweight. I just saw a cute child smiling back; I do have a great smile by the way. But I never took notice of how dangerous life was getting with an overweight body. As I grew up, the teasing was merciless. In eighth grade, I got my first pair of glasses and I felt that they had become my very own invisibility cloak. I could hide behind those lenses and the hurtful words people would say to me could not penetrate those glasses. I wore them proudly and I have never stopped wearing glasses since. Unfortunately, the glasses did more than just protect me. They also helped to isolate me. A disturbing trend among the overweight/obese population is isolation and loneliness. Somehow, we all feel that we are not worthy of being happy and being loved so we retreat into ourselves and deprive the world from knowing how great and special we are.

Three years ago, I developed a terrible pain in my lower back. I could not bend over, stand, or do housework (darn) without my back being in a horrible pain. I was scared the day I went for a walk with my family and couldn’t even walk more than ten feet without my back suddenly starting to hurt. It was on that day that I decided something had to be done. While I was thinking about chiropractors and doctors for my back, a tiny voice in the back of my mind said “Why don’t you try to lose some weight first?”

I had never thought about losing weight. I never cared about the opinion of others because I believed that what mattered was how I saw myself. I realized that I am the one who spends every minute with this brain, heart, and body and I needed to like, and possibly love, myself. I also knew that I did not want to be one of a million other women who hate the way they look. I never liked the word “diet” because to me that was an evil word that said you hate your body. I don’t hate myself. So I refused to diet and exercise because I felt these two things went hand and hand with an evil mixed up world. I felt that loving me meant giving in to everything I wanted and never saying no.

I did get exercise. I have burned through more walking shoes than exercise clothes. I have my most creative thoughts when I am out for a stroll around the neighborhood. So this was the only form of exercise I got and it was enough to keep me at 30 pounds overweight all through high school. In college, I ate poorly. I was a poor college kid, and I would eat pre-packaged meals and fast food and never once did a fruit or vegetable enter my system. And once I got out of college, the cycle continued.

So two years ago, I was tipping the scales at 278 pounds. 100 pounds more than what I weighed in high school and over 130 pounds of what my healthy weight should be. But I was not discouraged when I saw that number. I took that number as my starting point feeling that we all have to start somewhere. To date, I have lost 60 pounds and I have learned so much more about myself. There are things I am doing today that I would have never thought I could ever do. I feel like I have strength and the courage to tackle anything that may have seemed scary years ago. I refuse to hide behind my invisibility cloak and instead I greet every day with the knowledge that I can be better and do better today than yesterday. This has been my journey and it is nowhere near the finish line. I have seen a few finish lines since I took up running last summer, and one day I hope to cross my own. But this is just me and my discovery of who I am, what I want, and who I want to be.

Finding Community Contributes to Achieving Weight Loss Goals

By: Guest Blogger Laura Kinart

Hello everyone!!!!  Who is Laura Kinart?  Great question, sometimes I still don’t know  =)

I am a 32 year old mom of two and wife to one.  I was an athlete growing up; I danced, played soccer and also played softball.  I was always pretty thin and healthy at a weight of 125-135 throughout my high school years.  Then I went to college, and decided I didn’t want to play sports anymore and I stopped taking dance classes as well.  But I still wanted to be thin, so instead of eating healthy and going to the free gym that UW-Parkside had right there in my dorm, I started to follow some unhealthy diets.  My junior year in college I began the year being pretty much anorexic, I lost a lot of weight and went from a size 8 to a size 4 because I basically didn’t eat.  I didn’t want to “work” at losing weight so I just decided not to intake any calories.  At my sisters college graduation my mom took me aside and told me I was too thin (because while a size 4 might look great on some women, it made me look sick).  From that point on I knew I needed to eat.

But instead of adapting to a healthy lifestyle yet again, I just thought I needed to eat.  I was terrified to look sick again, so I ate, and ate…and ate.  In the period of about 3 years I went from 140lbs to 230lbs.  Then from 2007-2009 I had two babies and went up to my highest weight of 264, wearing a size 20 that was really too tight because I just wouldn’t buy a size 22.  I lived at that weight and size for about a year.

Then in 2010, I saw a picture of myself.  I was sitting there at 264lbs and felt horrible!  So I started working out and I was doing interval classes 2-3 times a week for about six months, but only lost 5lbs during that time.  That is when I realized that my problem was not burning the calories off….but bringing them in.  I wasn’t realizing how many calories I was really eating and why.

In August of 2010, I started working with a Personal Trainer and he had me doing some amazing workouts and watching what I was eating.  And then while I was running up a hill, I rolled my ankle and re-tore a ligament in it. I had lost 25lbs in two months and after I was injured, I gained 5lbs back.

In December 2010, I realized that if I didn’t figure out why I was the weight I was, I was going to die before I turned 60.  I wouldn’t be a grandma, or a great-grandma, heck I might even miss my kids’ weddings or college graduations. That was NOT okay with me. 

So I sat down and talked it out with myself, my husband and my sister.  I was completely honest with not only my family, but more importantly….myself.   That is when I realized that I have an addiction to food.  I love it too much!  I rely on it to help me when I am having a bad day…or a good day.  I use it in my life in so many more ways than just nutrition and that is when I decided I needed to tackle my addiction.  Watching shows on TV about drug addiction, I realized that the way I felt about food was the same way those people felt about cocaine or heroin; and it honestly scared me.

So I knew I needed to do something, and the only thing that I could think of was Weight Watchers.  I didn’t want a plan or diet that gave me the food to eat, because that wasn’t going to teach me a darn thing.  And on 1/11/11, with my sister as my partner, I started weight watchers to help me focus on the food and it has taught me so many things! I started 2011 in a XXL and finished in a medium!  I started 2011 at 244lbs (after losing 20lbs) and am now 189lbs!

I realized that this is going to take some time, I still have 50lbs I would like to lose this year, and that I need to be happy with each station in the process.  Am I at goal yet?  NO, but I am at a size I haven’t been in since 2004!!!!  I have to realize that the process will work if I am honest with myself, and that it isn’t a week to week process, it is much more than that.  And if I have a bad week, or even two in a row, if my average is still a loss, then I am still moving in the right direction. What I learned is that I need to forgive myself if I do indulge in something!  Because I cannot and will not be perfect 100% of the time, and that is okay!!!

This is a struggle, and it is a lifetime process.  But instead of looking at it as a burden, I’ve started looking at it as a blessing, because now I can help people who are in a similar place to where I was just last year.  And that is why I came to 411Fit.  I know I can be a part of a community of people working toward the same goals.  I am here to share my journey with you and hopefully you will share your journey with me.  Just like all the amazing tools within 411Fit to help you track and hold you accountable to your personal goals and progress, I can be a tool to help motivate you to keep it up!

Ready to start your journey with 411Fit? Register today!

Interview with the Authors: Train Like A Mother

We knew that our friends over at Another Mother Runner had another book due out soon. So, we sat down to talk to them and get their perspective on running, writing and being an active parent! We hope you at 411Fit find some useful pieces of information in their advice and their story.

Want to win a book? We are giving away a copy to one lucky 411Fit winner! Just click the share button on our FB page, or RT on Twitter and we’ll pick a name at random! Check back on FB & Twitter for the lucky winner’s name! You have 48 hours – so share, share, share!

Your second book, Train like a Mother, is due out in March. What is the #1 training tip you can offer to Mom’s out there getting into running?
Commit to a race. When you plunk down your plastic and commit to a goal, it makes getting up in the early mornings—or hitting the treadmill after the kids are asleep—significantly easier. (Notice I didn’t say easy: running isn’t easy—and that’s why the emotional + physical payback is so huge.) And by a race, please know I don’t mean something with the word “marathon” in it. We’re big believers in working your way up the race distance ladder; starting with a 5K, and then moving to 10K, and half-marathon and marathon, if you want.  If you’re an experienced runner, maybe focus on getting a PR in a 5K or 10K. Really racing a shorter distance—pushing yourself as hard as you can—can be much more challenging—and fulfilling—than simply covering the distance of a longer race.

What inspired you to write your books?
Sarah Bowen Shea, my co-author, and I ran the 2007 Nike Women’s Marathon together. We blogged about it and wrote a feature about it for Runner’s World. As we trained, we found this amazing community of running moms that hadn’t really been solidified yet. We wanted to write a book that spoke to them and addressed the many reasons why we run. While the time on the clock is important, so are the emotional and spiritual components of running: time with girlfriends, the confidence and strength it brings to our lives.

When did you start running and what motivated you to do so?
I was a reluctant runner. I mostly started as cross training for rowing—Sarah did the same—and when I moved to New York City, I was broke and had no extra money for a gym fee. But I did live near Central Park, so that became my gym. I watched the NYC Marathon—the first time I’d ever seen a marathon in my life—and couldn’t believe how many different shapes and sizes and paces I saw. One of those ‘if they can do it, so can I‘ moments. Once I became a regular runner, I realized how important the sweat and endorphin rush was for my mental wellbeing. Twenty years into being a runner, it still is.

As a mother, how do you make the time to run?
Wake up early: I’m usually running by 5:30. It’s painful many mornings to get out of bed, but if I don’t go, I usually can find a zillion excuses—some real, some made-up—for not going later in the day. I applaud women who can run after a long day with kids and work, but I’m not that person.

We know that consistency is key. What do you do on days when you just don’t feel like running?
Four words: Don’t think, just go. Honestly, it gets me out of bed nearly every time when I do that. Don’t dwell on it, just put your shoes on and get out the door before you find an excuse. Another strategy I use when I’m lying in bed: I see myself towards the end of my run, when I’ve got 5-10 minutes left and I’m so glad I got up. Wanting that feeling is usually enough to get me moving.

What would you say to Mom’s out there who want to get into running, but just don’t see themselves as a “runner” yet?
Honestly, we think that anybody who gets out there regularly to propel themselves forward faster than a walk is a runner.

Picture c/o: Nicole Morganthau

How can people find you online? In stores?
Anothermotherrunner.com
Our FB page: http://www.facebook.com/AnotherMotherRunner
Twitter: @dimityontherun and @sbsontherun
iTunes podcast: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/another-mother-runner-radio/id452025505
We are also on Amazon: Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother.

Can people run with you?
If they want to get up at 5:30 a.m. Kidding, but they can definitely meet us at a bunch of race expos and we’ll happily listen to details of their most recent runs. Here’s a list of where we’ll be this year. http://anothermotherrunner.com/rlam-the-tour/


Want to win a book? We are giving away a copy to one lucky 411Fit winner! Just click the share button on our FB page, or RT on Twitter and we’ll pick a name at random! Check back on FB & Twitter for the lucky winner’s name! You have 48 hours – so share, share, share!

Part 2: Food Journaling Matters A LOT

Weight Loss Unmasked: A five part series looking deeper at why we struggle with losing weight

By: Briana Boehmer

There is that saying…how does it go?  Oh yes, “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER”.  Of course, there’s also that little saying “ignorance is bliss,” but I’ll argue there’s nothing “blissful” about living in an unhealthy body.

In an extensive weight loss study, conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, the single greatest factor in weight loss shown by the 1,685 overweight and obese subjects studied was the number of days they logged their food in a journal each week.  Yep, you got it – Journaling was more important than regular meetings or even how overweight a subject was to start.  Subjects that logged their food 6 days per week lost twice as much weight as those who did not keep a food journal.  Certainly we can infer many reasons for this result, but researchers have found we just don’t realize how much we are eating!  Even when asking a degreed health professional or dietician, researchers have found they too underestimate calorie values!

Let me add one more twist:  All calories were not created equal.  Sure, a calorie is a calorie in the strict sense of the energy it contains.  However, how your body processes and utilizes carbohydrates, protein and fat vary greatly.  I will not go into different ways calories were not created equal just yet (you’ll just have to wait for the next installment!), but the point I do want to make now is that journaling will help you better balance the calories you are consuming.  Your body has distinct needs for all three macronutrients based on your own personal health and activity level.  Deficiencies or over consumption of any one macronutrient in many cases can have real consequences.

So what are the keys to journaling?

Consistency – Make it a habit.  You benefit most from journaling when you do it day after day.  An easy way to make it easier on yourself – journal throughout the day!  As soon as you eat something, take note.  411Fit’s mobile site makes logging your nutrition on the fly very easy.

Understanding portion sizes - Start at home by measuring what you are eating so that you have a better understanding of what a cup etc. is.  For a running start on understanding how to identify portion sizes, we like this WebMD interactive portion size plate: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-portion-size-plate

Don’t skip “indulgences” – Be honest with what you are eating.  If you have a “bad day” or go out to eat, do your best to write down everything you can.  The only way you learn is through awareness of your habits!

411Fit has worked very hard to create a food journal with a purpose to help with this critical component of healthy lifestyle changes.  When you go into 411Fit you have the ability to set your own personal parameters for calories (weight loss), macronutrients, hydration, exercise, health measurements and goals.  You then have your own personal grade each day that specifically matches what you are doing against what you told the system you WANT to do.  The closer to an A you are, the closer you are to the goals you set in the system.  With regards to journaling your nutrition, the grade alone is an easy way for you to see how “on track” you are.  That is YOUR grade!  Pretty cool stuff if we say so ourselves!

Whether you use a tool like 411Fit or simply a scrap of paper, start journaling what you are eating NOW!  You will be amazed at what this simple act will teach you about your health.

Read Part 1: You Have to EAT to Lose Weight by clicking here.