Are you happy with where you are right now with your health, lifestyle and even the way you look? I am celebrating my 60thbirthday this year (little secret, Randy is too), so my priorities have definitely changed! One of my main concerns as a young adult all the way through to motherhood was to feel I looked nice by maintaining my weight. That was accomplished by going on numerous (sometimes crazy) diets and burning off as many calories as I humanly could with aerobic exercise. This is a picture of one of a number of Sprint triathalons Randy and I competed in when we were in our 40s:
Those were the days that I would sometimes bike, swim and run for hours everyday to both compete in those triathalons and keep my weight down!
However, now my priorities have changed. I still would like to look presentable, but a more meaningful priority to me is keeping my own health in check, thus setting an example for my family and community regarding healthy lifestyle choices.
So a defining moment to make some lifestyle changes came this past fall for me. You all know Randy and I have talked about healthy eating, movement, stress relief and the right amount of quality sleep as being a pivotal part of a healthy life for these past two decades through lectures, radio shows (Vital Signs and “Healthy U”):
and our blog (drtobler.com). However, after the marriage of both of our girls at our farm this past year, I noticed constant ringing in my ears AND hearing my heartbeat in my ear. A borderline BP check signaled a problem may be looming. I asked my Mom what the history of high blood pressure was in our family and I was shocked to find out that not just my Dad’s family has the problem, but everyone on my Mom’s side! So I reasoned that I was going to give myself some time to lose some weight before I had a followup doctor check, as a possible remedy to my probable hypertension. I was also not happy with my developing errant eating habits, that is, I was eating healthfully all week long but celebrating each weekend with choices like cheese and sausage trays and bowls full of nuts during our constant year long prep for the home-brewed weddings (which were so well worth the temporary lapse)! My go-to for exercise had been predominantly aerobic exercise all these years, and that was fine, but I wanted to try something new in that arena too, to give me a new challenge.
The overriding decision to make a change came from deep within me. I was asking myself the big question like, “How can I be a healthy lifestyle role model to my family and community if I don’t feel inspired by myself?” So for me, it was time for a lifestyle review and reform…..wherever the road was going to lead!! We have a good friend who is a professional counselor, and reminds us that he needs a “check in” with a counselor, to remain an effective resource for his clients. Like our friend, I reasoned “It’s time to get a second opinion!”
So I started a lifestyle program with my daughter Sammi, who had just made a bold move to be a self-employed entrepreneur with her business Sammi Gregory Fitness:
Sammi also struggled with her weight and self-image in her adolescence and teen-age years until very recently. Her program has all of the principals I believe can lead to a lasting positive lifestyle change, whatever you wish it to be, be it muscle building, weight loss or maintenance:
I. Accountability-Are you like me when you want to “kind-of” make a change, like lose some weight or start that exercise program you’ve been putting off? Do you notice when you actually have some success that you can be proud of? Usually it’s when you are all in, willing to be accountable to someone or something for your continued success. Why do you think Weight Watchers is so successful? It’s not just because of their food program, it’s because you are accountable to someone else for your weekly weigh-ins and then you come together as a community and share your successes and failures.
So pick a program that has someone (like a coach), or some group (like a support group) that you are accountable to on a regular basis that is going to encourage you but at the same time hold your feet to the fire if you start giving up on yourself. That coach or support group should also be giving you tips for staying on track when you eat out, how to plan for those special occasions, how to deal with food in stressful situations, what foods can lead to continued nutritional success and where to buy them and finally giving tips for first starting and then fitting in your exercise regimen.
II. Macros Are Your Friend–The old school way of dieting strictly involved counting calories. This method does not really differentiate what type of calories that might be. My college nutrition professor used to pummel us with the credo, “A calorie, is a calorie is a calorie.” And I played those strictly calorie number games of starvation when I was “good” and gluttony when I was “bad” for decades.
And here is a picture of just a few of the diet books I have acquired in the past written by the many respected guests we’ve hosted on “Healthy U”, and from my research as a nutritionist, just to give you an idea of the breadth and depth of this field:
Now I’m not going to dismiss or disparage any one of these books or diets. They all have merit in one aspect or another. And you can definitely count on losing weight if you follow them religiously. However, what the majority of most diets/eating lifestyle methods are missing is two pivotal objectives: SUSTAINABILITY AND CUSTOMIZATION.
Let me explain….
According to the latest 4/9/18 report by Marketdata, Enterprises, a leading independent research publisher, the diet industry tops out in monetary terms at $60.9 Billion annually. That is fueled by the present (and highest number in 15 years) American trend of “4” weight loss attempts per year:
“America’s estimated 75 million dieters—about 80% of whom try to lose weight by themselves, are fickle and shift from fad to fad. These shifts in dieter preferences spell boom or bust for diet companies.”
Just think how much effort it takes to learn a new diet, hoping for success, only to fail and go on to another hopeful weight loss answer. AND, finding that diet that truly fits YOUR own needs, likes and body-type is truly like finding a needle in a haystack!! What a roller-coaster of not only weight loss and gain, not to mention the emotional upheaval all these failed attempts DO cause (I speak from experience here folks)!!:
But, have you thought about a lifestyle eating method that you can tailor to your own personal likes and dislikes based on (again) your individual body’s need for fuel, to operate at maximum efficiency? Oh yeah, you can also lose weight and gain muscle by wholeheartedly adopting this eating lifestyle. Enter the IIFYM lifestyle, or If It Fits Your Macros way of eating. Macronutrients are simply the major nutrients all of our foods are made of: protein, carbohydrates and fats. And, what each of these macros actually does for your body actually helps you grasp their importance: proteins primarily provide the structure for your body in the form of bone and muscle. Carbohydrates are our primary energy source and fats, though needed in smaller amounts, cushions the organs and makes up 60% of our brain cells!
Micronutrients, though still very important, are in the form of vitamins and minerals which are essential elements we receive from quality foods in very small amounts.
SO… picking healthy choices from your macros of protein, carbohydrates and fats leads you to maximize your gene expression, thus significantly lowering your risk of chronic disease, maximizing your micronutrient intake! (See What are SUPERFOODS??? for those healthy choices).
A MacroNutrient lifestyle utilizes a certain baseline amount of calories to start from, but based on YOUR needs, be it weight loss, body building or maintenance for example. Your own individual caloric (and thus macronutrient) needs would be based on your age, weight, height, activity levels and individual goals.
Using me as an example: I wanted to lose some weight, but at the same time gain muscle and my level of activity was moderate. Here is my profile at the beginning of my program:
1610 calories- 50% carbohydrates/ 30% fat/ 20% protein
When I say at the beginning of my macro journey, these numbers have all changed a couple of times since I started last year in October, the calories and the macro percentages. When my weight stalled and my body needed a break, my coach increased my calories and adjusted my macro percentages based on how well I was adhering to the eating plan. This is not an exact science folks!! That is the beauty of it!! Just like we are all different, we all have different metabolic macro needs too! I can honestly say I’m full at the end of each evening, with an extremely high energy level! This is just one example of a breakfast, lunch and dinner I enjoy everyday:
I can fit in treats that I enjoy, yet I still adhere to a very nutritionally sound regimen of a plethora of fresh fruits and veggies, ancient grains, legumes and hearty crusty wheat bread, healthy fats, lean proteins and a frequent evening glass of wine!
If you would like some general information about this lifestyle, check out The MacroNutrient Diet by Jonathan DiLauri and The Women’s Book by Lyle McDonald.
III. Tracking Keeps You In the Game!- Remember when I pointed out accountability being so key to a sustained ANYTHING, not just weight loss! A huge part of that is tracking all of the food you eat, daily. Now, I’ll bet you are already thinking that you don’t have time to do that, you are very busy and time is at a premium. And I will say to you, how important and how serious are you about changing your lifestyle? If you are one of the millions of Americans that are trying to lose weight on the newest fad diets, and probably having success initially, but you realize the sustainability issue is going to be tough, AND you want to make this the LAST TIME, please seriously think about this lifestyle change. That is what sold me!! You can use the fitness app of your choice to track food, which makes it very doable. I use MyFitnessPal for tracking. Here is an idea of a day’s worth of food and how I track it:
And yes, your food scale will also be your new friend….
If you plan a day ahead, it makes it much easier to get all of your macros for the day in. This is not a numbers game where you are trying to eat less than you are allotted. No, you need all of the macronutrients assigned to you to achieve your goals, be they weight loss, maintenance or muscle building. That includes three meals per day and macro-friendly snacks throughout the day. And as I said before, this is not an exact science, so once you figure out how you are doing, these macro percentages and calories can be tweaked to meet your personal needs.
To wrap your head around the importance of food tracking, think of tracking like budgeting for your house. Your mortgage represents protein, your utilities represent carbohydrates and your repair costs represents fats. You need all three of these macronutrients working for you optimally, instead of happenstance. You know the routine, staying with your dieting regimen all week and being an honor dieter, only to blow it on the weekend or a special occasion because you wanted a break from the eating regimen, only to have the familiar Monday dieter remorse being played weekly!! At the same time, you are unwittingly cheating your body of the macro and micronutrients that it craves!
Big take home for me personally in the tracking area? I knew that the recipes I was following in gourmet magazines like Food & Wine and Bon Appetit were asking for high amounts of fat, and I was complying with those recipes! I knew deep down that that might be what the recipe calls for, but it was WAY over the amount of healthy fat (even though it was usually extra virgin olive oil) I should be adding. It took me actually seeing the real numbers of the amount of macros in fats (and calories) I was using up before I started making some drastic, but still flavorful, macro-friendly changes in the recipes I was following!
And yes, you can go off track for an occasional meal with this lifestyle, everyone needs that! The goal being intuitive about portion size when you reach the maintenance level.
IV. Time to Pump Some Iron- The weight lifting part of this lifestyle program is not only really important for a number of health reasons, but it actually really gives you an ever greater mental and metabolic boost than aerobic exercise does! And I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I truly believe it’s even more important for “highly seasoned” (read-seniors) people to get on the resistance/weight lifting train! See Anti-Aging vs. Graceful Aging, Which Will You Choose? for a discussion of how muscle loss and aging go hand in hand—unless you resist. Hey, you know what my age (and Randy’s age) is going to be soon, so I’m putting myself in this bucket of people too!
First let’s talk about aerobic exercise. It still should remain a very important PART of your weekly exercise regimen. You will remember we’ve talked about the moving theme before many times. When Randy and I interviewed National Geographic’s author Dan Buettner of The Blue Zones on radio show Healthy U, where pockets of centenarians around the world were studied for their “magic sauce” of longevity. One of the key components for these centenarians was moving, everyday, in ANYWAY, i.e. gardening, walking, chores (this is Randy on a nature walk with our pitbull Mia):
That being said, relying ONLY on aerobic exercise for your weekly workout OR depending solely on it for weight loss is a HUGE MISTAKE!!
Let me offer some evidence for this:
A. Aerobic Exercise is inefficient for weight loss, but resistance training is a star!– Johns Hopkin’s study, published in the American Journal of Public Health in March of 2014 regarding how much exercise it took to burn a 20 ounce can of regular soda (or 16 tsp. of sugar). Drum roll please…. It took 5 miles of walking or 50 minutes of running to burn off just less than 2 cups of soda! That is extremely inefficient for weight loss!!
Yet resistance training, read weight lifting, increases RMR or resting metabolic rate (aerobic exercise does not!):
In fact, scientific estimation of the metabolic rate of muscle is about 10 to 15 kcal/kg per day, which is approximately 4.5 to 7.0 kcal/lb per day (Elia, 1992).
That’s an extra 10-15 calories burned at rest, per pound of muscle per day!
B.Aerobic exercise pushes the “more food” mindset– I know it’s a psychological/hunger quirk a lot of us have, but it’s real. How often have you aerobically worked out really hard (i.e. running, biking) and not only were you hungrier, but you also felt entitled to more food as a reward!! I can honestly say I did! My problem came into play about 15 years ago when I could no longer run for hours because of foot injuries, yet my calories consumed stayed the same! That was the beginning of my 15 pound gain! If I would have been a fan of resistance/weight lifting exercise back then, along with aerobic exercise, I’ll bet the scale wouldn’t have climbed so dramatically! Resistance training does not have the same effect on hunger as aerobic exercise does for you do not burn as many calories during your exercise session!
C. Resistance training to the rescue for your healthy lifespan!!-In a 2/2000 Circulation article, Resistance Exercise in Individuals With and Without Cardiovascular Disease, prevention of heart disease was cited as one of the many benefits of resistance training (including weight loss):
Many cardiac patients and middle-aged persons develop chronic diseases that can be favorably affected by resistance training. Moreover, resistance training can be beneficial in the prevention and management of other chronic conditions, eg, low back pain, osteoporosis, obesity and weight control, sarcopenia (ie, a loss of skeletal muscle mass that may accompany aging), diabetes mellitus, susceptibility to falls, and impaired physical function in frail and elderly persons, as well as in the prevention of and rehabilitation from orthopedic injuries.3
So you see, it’s not all about building bulky muscles, it’s about maintaining our muscles as we age while also lowering our risk for chronic disease!
Here is a pic of Randy and I both getting into the resistance groove!:
V. This Is Not A Race, It’s Your Life!- I have to say I truly was ruled by the scale most of my adolescent, young adult and young mother life. And it’s not that I jumped on the scale everyday for all of that time period, no, just the opposite, I AVOIDED IT! However, it really did hold a place of guilt in the cobwebs of my weight=loss=obsessed mind for that time period! However, I can now honestly say the scale is just a tool. It JUST registers you weight, nothing else. It keeps you on track, corrects you if you overdid it and registers unexpected errant water weight gain. But it remains only a tool. If you are religiously following the macro lifestyle program, you will definitely move toward attaining your goals. Your tape measure should also be your friend. By taking your measurements at least once per week, you will see progress you might not see on the scale, but that’s really okay too! Both scale and tape measure are important motivators. No doubt you’ve heard the old adage that muscle weighs more than fat. That is simply not true, for a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. However, muscle is more compact, fat is more spread out throughout the body, thus the tape measure comes in handy to really see your progress in the muscle building, and inches lost arena!
That being said, when you get frustrated because the scale or tape measure is not moving as quickly as you would like (and we have all been there), please check yourself and realize how long it took to gain the weight and with it the habits that caused the weight gain. This again, has been a really liberating lifestyle program on that account! It took me 15 years to put on these pounds I wanted to lose, so I wholeheartedly don’t care how long it takes! AND, I’ve decided that if the number on the scale is not the magic number I reached for at the end of my weight loss program, YET I am at the place I want to be, then the scale number will not rule me, I WILL!
Just an update on my health issues: my initial motivation for losing weight was to arrest my hypertension fears, hoping that losing weight would stave off high blood pressure medication. No such luck. I have lost weight (see below) but my genetics trumped my weight loss progress. I just started high blood pressure medication this month. But that is not a failure, it’s being smart! Uncontrolled high blood pressure has to be addressed, and I did! I encourage you also, even if you think you are healthy, to get your blood pressure checked regularly, I did not have any issues with it until 6 months ago! Next stop on my health journey, a hearing test!
And here is a before (started in October, 2017) and not quite after picture (I’m still on the program, wanting to make some improvements):
I’ve lost 15 pounds since my daughters were married last year, AND 2 inches from my arms, 4 inches from my waist, 3 inches from my thighs and 3 inches from my hips, for a total of 12 inches!!! I also have to say my energy level and mental clarity has been phenomenal on this lifestyle program. These are all positive healthy lifestyle markers!!
So this is my advice to you now, if you are looking for a healthy lifestyle boost and with it, a new you, these five essentials I’ve described will serve you well, whatever program you choose!
This is a pic of the first time I’ve every had a solo picture with my now 88 year old Dad this past Easter morn. He’s been a true model for me and our entire family (along with our Mom of almost 89 years) of what healthy and graceful aging is all about!
RECAP OF: TIME TO THINK ABOUT A NEW YOU?
II. Macros Are Your Friend
III. Tracking Keeps You In the Game!
IV. Time to Pump Some Iron!
V. This Is Not A Race, It’s Your Life!
Recipe time!!! Have you ever tried to cook squid? It’s really easy to do and has the same qualities of chicken, that is it takes on the taste of whatever you spice it up with! It is also a terrific source of protein! And it fits in nicely with your macro counts!! I encourage you to try this tasty dish! Enjoy!!
INDONESIAN SQUID FRY
Pam spray or just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan
1 large (90g) red onion-cut in small dice cubes
3-4 cloves (8g) minced garlic
1 large (400g) sweet red pepper-cut in even strips
1 cup (161g) snap green peas cut diagonally
2 cups (233g) shaved Brussels sprouts
2/3 cup (140g) Indonesian Peanut Sauce- (See recipe below)
1 cup (195g) cooked and cooled barley (or ancient grain of your choice)
1 lb. Thawed Calamari Rings & Tentacles-Fully cleaned & Trimmed (I buy this at Walmart)
Dash of fish and soy sauce to taste
1. Heat large pan (I use my non-stick wok pan) on medium heat on stove. When properly heated, add Pam spray or olive oil.
2. Add red onion and sauté until translucent, then quickly add garlic until fragrant. Add sweet pepper, snap peas and Brussels sprouts and sauté until softened.
3. Add peanut sauce until combined, then add cooked grain and thawed calamari (squid).
4. Heat through thoroughly for 4-5 minutes.
5. Add desired amount of fish and soy sauce to taste.
Indonesian Peanut Sauce (Note-this recipe makes more than enough for this stir-fry and future stir-fry recipes!)
1 cup (250 g) Peanut Butter (you can use crunchy, or Almond Butter or any type of nut butter you choose)
1 cup (250 ml) hot water
6 cloves of garlic
1 ½ tsp. (14g) pickled jalapenos
1 tsp. dry ginger
Juice of one Lime
1 T (30 ml) Soy Sauce
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. This recipe will give you an abundance of sauce for this and other dishes you might cook up!!
*Indonesian Peanut Sauce adapted from Wayne Gisslen’s Professional Cooking
Nutrition per serving: 344 cal/39.3g carb/9.5g fat/