Jill's Blog 2013

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December 30, 2013

New Year's Will Power Tip

Happy New Year!

If you want to improve your health habits this month, then here is a valuable tip:

Will Power succeeds much better when you focus on what you WILL do, rather than on what you WON'T.

For example, replace "no-no" resolutions like this:

With "to-do" resolutions like this:

The best to-do items are those that actively interfere with your being able to do the unwanted habit. For example, mindless nibbling isn't possible when you're taking a bath, a walk or a yoga class. And, incidentally, if you wanted to justify playing computer games, they've been proven to help people avoid nighttime munching.

It's a seemingly minor shift in focus, but it hugely raises your chances for success: So take some time RIGHT NOW to rephrase any "will not" resolutions into positive "to-do" items.

And have a wonderful new year!


December 28, 2013

Happier New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year!

If you are making new year's resolutions about health, here's my advice:

Make the time to make them fun....or at least non-hurried and non-stressful.

If you plan to eat healthier, make time to experiment with new foods, to browse recipes or the produce aisle, or to prepare your meals in a relaxed way, perhaps with music, or with a friend.

If you plan to exercise more, make time for it to be a relaxed or social experience, rather than a mad dash to get in, sweat, shower, and race to your next obligation.

New health initiatives can either feel like going to summer camp (new adventures!) or prison camp (oppression!), and it often comes down to whether you have made time to enjoy the process...or at least to find it interesting.

All my best for a wonderful 2014!


December 17, 2013

Don't change your Life. Change your Routine.


If you set out to change your whole life--in terms of eating and exercise habits--the odds are stacked against you. A depressing 95% of people fail to reach and maintain their fitness goals because they can't sustain the monumental effort.

But much of life is just daily routines, and those are relatively EASY to change. A better breakfast can change your energy, hunger and cravings all day long. An extra weekly grocery stop can keep you eating cleaner for days. A walk around the block plus green tea can boost your metabolism, energy and mood for hours. A prepared snack can save you from eating junk (and the addiction that goes with it.) A new hobby at night can keep you from mindlessly munching.

And because it only takes 19 calories per day to equal 20 pounds of fat per decade, the small consistent habits are everything.

So forget about grand fitness initiatives until you have done the much more valuable exercise of thinking about what small sustainable changes you could make to your daily routine.

As you plan New Year's Resolutions, make this your mantra: Don't change your life. Change your routine.

Happy Holidays!


November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving Treats that are Super-Healthy


Thanksgiving is one of the easier holidays to keep healthy, so long as you plan ahead instead of giving in to the normal sugar-laden regulars (canned cranberries, marshmallow yams, pie) and saturated-fat-bombs (regular gravy, stuffing and cream-filled mashed potatoes). Here are some ideas that are festive, delicious AND also healthier:

AND I know you have lots of great ideas, too. I'd love to hear 'em!

Have a very happy Thanksgiving and please know how thankful I am to be connected with you.

All my best,


November 1, 2013

The most regretted calories


First of all, Happy Wedding to our devoted Counselor, Catherine! She and her wonderful fiance, Rob, and their unconventional wedding menu, inspire this week's tip.

Our clients have taught us that the biggest source of UN-enjoyed, UN-needed, UN-nutritous calories is dessert in social situations, because declining it might feel rude or socially awkward.

If this happens regularly, the price can be higher than most people think. Research suggests that night-time sugar intake can be associated with:

If these things happen to you, they are a high price to pay for brief moments of politeness.

One solution is to craft a few key phrases for elegantly declining unwanted food. It's not crazy to think of them ahead of time, to practice them, and have them ready to pull out as needed. This one social skill can make a huge difference to your weight and health over time.

Catherine and Rob have saved their wedding guests from this predicament. Catherine knows that her friends and family would likely eat her wedding cake to be polite, but might later regret the nasty sugar-related effects. She opted NOT to serve cake at all, and instead invested in nicer entrees and other wedding fun. I think that's an incredibly thoughtful gift to her loved ones. After all, if any guests are dying for dessert, they can choose to seek out their most-favorite, most-worth-it treat and savor it for pleasure--not politeness.

Happy Wedding, Catherine and Rob! We love you and thank you for reminding us that we don't all need to eat junk to celebrate your day.


October 27, 2013

Healthier Halloween


Halloween forces the question: Is the occasional sugar indulgence a harmless tradition or a foolish assault on your health?

That may sound overly dramatic--and goodness knows many of us have survived our share of sugar binges--but the latest research on sugar is pretty damning. So here are some ways to minimize sugar's effects:

  1. If you're gonna have sugar

    • favor long-lasting hard candies over soft ones that are gone in seconds
    • favor dark chocolate
    • enjoy it earlier in the day, when your blood sugar may be less likely to spike
    • enjoy some veggies and protein beforehand, to blunt the spike in blood sugar
    • enjoy it at a time of day when you are physically active
    • decrease the amount of starch or alcohol you eat that day
    • eat extra-nutritious foods the rest of the day, to help offset the empty calories
    • get rid of leftovers once you've had your fill

OR, better yet,

  1. Replace candy with healthier edible treats, such as

    • toasted pumpkin seeds from carved pumpkins
    • pumpkin, fresh baked, with cinnamon
    • bobbing for apples
  2. Consider replacing trick-or-treat candy with

    • stickers
    • coins
    • glow bracelets
    • small toys

Or, just fill your day with the non-edible delights of Halloween, such as costumes, pumpkin carving, decorating, scary movies and such. No need to have sugar-induced health problems on your list of scary, spooky frights.

Have a good week!


October 13, 2013

Use Daylight Savings to Lose a Few Pounds

Happy Daylight Savings!

Use part of that extra hour of daylight to do something relaxing, healthy, and great for weight loss:

Walk after dinner.

Even just a 10-minute stroll helps a lot. By blunting a blood sugar rise after dinner, you prevent the insulin release that causes weight gain. What's more, you'll help lower your blood sugar enough to burn fat, and you'll probably sleep better, too!

Want to earn extra credit? While you walk, think of things that happened that day for which you are grateful. That promotes good sleep and healthier eating too!

Have a good week,


September 8, 2013

Minimally Processed stil too much


The words "minimally processed" are usually a good thing to see on a food label, but take note if you are one of the many people who struggle with portion control on nutritious foods like:

While minimal processing is sure better than heavy processing, keep in mind that any food gets less satisfying and filling when it is chopped, heated, ground up, pressed, juiced or otherwise exposed to some of the work of digestion that your own teeth, stomach or intestines were going to have to do.

Anything ground up is chewed less and swallowed faster. The faster you can eat something, the easier it is to overeat it. The faster it digests, the sooner you will be hungry again.

So if you struggle with overeating the healthy stuff, try this experiment and see how much less food you consume:

For one week, replace any processed foods with the completely unprocessed version, such as:

The unprocessed versions will slow you down, fill you up, boost your metabolism, and you probably will get leaner without even trying.

Have a good week!


August 23, 2013

How injuries can improve your fitness


Injuries don't have to be a depressing setback to fitness. I'm reminded of this because so many of us find ourselves injured at the end of summer, when the fun of biking, hiking, surfing, waterskiing, softball, etc. has us limping, wincing and wondering if the moments of euphoria were worth it.

"Out of commission" from injury is a depressing place to be, for so many reasons, which makes it even more tempting to take your recovery as sanctioned couch-potatohood.

But unless prescribed by your doctor, prolonged inactivity may be your worst choice. It can raise blood sugar, lower your metabolism, depress your mood, and make you miss out on...


Maybe you can't do anything strenuous or high-impact, or anything that you previously enjoyed, but you can probably do something. And whatever you CAN safely do (even if it's just hobbling around on crutches) has one huge fitness advantage over your previous exercise routine: Novelty!

New muscles will be doing new movements and even a few minutes of novel challenges can be worth hours of your old routine.

Get this:

In fitness, novelty trumps almost everything else, and most of us don't get enough.

So find the movements you CAN safely do (your doctor and PT can help), and refuse to let your mood, metabolism, blood sugar, and fitness suffer just because your old routine isn't possible. As one hobbling client put it, "It's an injur-tunity."

Have a good and safe week!


August 14, 2013

Lose the "Happy Weight"...but keep the Happy


I had to laugh last week when I read a research study that confirmed my experience with clients: Happy couples gain more weight together....about 1-2 extra pounds per year.

Romantic fun is a good excuse to gain, in my opinion, and possibly very worth it for a while. But achy joints, inflammation, flab and other consequences eventually catch up with you, so here's a list of ways to have just as much fun losing the extra weight together as you had gaining it:

I'm sure you can think of more ideas, and once you manage to make losing weight together as fun as gaining it, you're set for life. So make plans RIGHT NOW to have some healthy fun with your sweetie.

Have a good week,


August 3, 2013

Signs you should slow down your weight loss


Here are some signs that you may be pushing your body or brain too hard to lose weight--and are at risk for sabotaging your long-term results or health. If any of these sounds like you, don't worry. Just slow down. Even losing 1/4 pound of fat per week is a whole stick of butter off your body!

Signs you should slow down:

Here's why: Burning fat inevitably involves lowering blood sugar, but if your blood sugar goes too low for too long, your will power suffers. Research suggests you'll "blow it" and eat back more calories than you suffered to burn in the first place.

Your mood, memory, creativity, sense of humor and general brain function are very sensitive to your blood sugar, which is the brain's main fuel. It can suffer when that fuel gets too low. Getting dizzy is dangerous--especially while driving!--so have a small carbohydrate snack, like a few crackers, if that ever starts to happen.

Injuries, constant soreness or lethargy might mean you are undernourished or undereating. Burning fat (which requires lower blood sugar) while remaining energetic (which requires higher blood sugar) is admittedly tricky, so come talk to us if you are struggling.

Losing too much muscle is bad for health and long-term results because it means losing metabolism, strength, immunity, blood sugar control, and healthy tissue. Muscle is always good weight. Slower weight loss helps preserve it.

Everybody is so very different when it comes to how quickly they can lose weight--without losing their muscle, brain power, or sanity. Even if you are losing weight at the recommended 1/2 to 2 pounds per week, it might still be too fast for YOUR best long-term results. If so, don't get discouraged. It's the turtle and hare story, and you'd rather run the race ONCE slowly than run it repeatedly as a yo-yoing hare.

I know...having patience is hard. But worth it!

Have a good week,


July 22, 2013

Ways to enjoy more fruit with less sugar


Our clients are increasingly concerned about the sugar in fruit, but don't want to miss out on fruit's great nutrients, fiber and taste. So here are some ways to get more fruit with less sugar:

  1. Choose lower-sugar fruits. Peaches, plums, apples (especially green ones), pears, berries have a lower glycemic load (impact on blood sugar) than melon, pineapple, grapes, bananas, mango and guava.

  2. Don't forget these fruits: Tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, cucumber and avocado. Enjoy these the same way you would any fruit. Heirloom tomatoes, eaten like a juicy peach, are a heavenly low-sugar treat, and red, orange and yellow bell peppers are quite sweet if your taste buds are sensitive.

  3. Maximize the skin, where the most fiber and nutrients live. If you're gonna eat only half an apple, for example, make it the exterior, then throw out the middle. It's a little wasteful, admittedly. You can also buy small fruit, where the ratio of skin to innards is higher. In other words, eating 2 tiny apples gives you more skin than 1 big one.

  4. Squeeze lemon and lime onto and into meals and drinks.

  5. Use temperature. Cold foods don't taste as sweet as warm ones with the same amount of sugar. So just taking your apples or berries out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you eat them can make them taste sweeter. You could warm berries (or any fruit) a little and see an even bigger difference.

Finally, it doesn't really make sense to worry about the sugar in fresh fruit until you have first worried about denser, more processed sources in your diet, which are much less healthy. Check your cereal, yogurt, bars, condiments, crackers, and other food labels to find any hidden sources.

Have a good week!


July 3, 2013

Happy Independence (from food tyranny) Day!


This Fourth of July holiday is a good time to reflect on how it's no good living under the tyranny of Kings OR HABITS that do you wrong.

So here is a list of foods proven most likely to make you lose self-control or become outright addicted. You might want to consider doing an experiment of living without them for a couple of weeks, to find out if you eat them out of true enjoyment or just plain addiction.

Foods most likely to enslave you to their addictive powers:

If you find that a food makes you act like an addict, I suggest that you either give it up entirely or else try a slightly less-processed version of the same food. For example, many people who lose self-control around potato chips can be satisfied by a baked potato with olive oil and salt--the same ingredients, but less processed.

Luckily, the Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate delicious unprocessed clean foods, like grilled chicken, salmon, zucchini, corn on the cob and portobello mushrooms, plus fresh berries and watermelon. What a great reminder that there is a plethora of delectable treats that are satisfying rather than addicting.

Have a great holiday!


June 24, 2013

How to have an "Eat, Pray, Love" Veggie Moment


Remember the asparagus meal in "Eat, Pray, Love"? Elizabeth goes to the local Italian market, then slowly savors a deeply satisfying, magical, delicious and treasured joy....of eating 3 asparagus spears.

Crazy, right?

OK, I'm not sure we can all have a religious experience over a few vegetables, but you can get closer to it by taking a little extra time to:

  1. Buy fresh produce on the same day you plan to eat it.
  2. Reflect on where it came from and how it grew.
  3. Appreciate the smell, sight and texture, both in your fingers and your mouth.
  4. Eat with gratitude and without distractions.
  5. Chew long enough to experience the different flavor that comes after saliva exposure.
  6. Imagine you are Julia Roberts, and the veggies are a gateway to love and enlightenment. :) OK, that might be going a bit far.

But with spring produce and farmers markets returning, it's a chance to rediscover some "magic" in our produce, rather than just choking it down. See if a little extra time and appreciation can win you a beautiful veggie experience.

Have a good week!


June 17, 2013

Better Judgment's Secret Weapons


Did your better judgement make all your food choices this past week? If not, who (or what) did?

If your better judgement didn't make enough of the food decisions, the solution is easy:

Plan farther ahead and be more prepared.

These things give great strength to better judgement. They are boring and obvious, but still the best tools around...and often forgotten. Any time you are struggling, try planning ahead in extreme detail for the coming week and see if it doesn't work wonders.

Have a good week!


March 19, 2013

Appetite and Exercise


Many people report a big change in appetite depending on what kind of workout they do. Recent research has studied this--at least with running, swimming and cycling--and suggests that:

It also appears that the more intense the exercise, the more appetite is suppressed. This makes sense, since tough exercise redirects blood away from the digestive system to go to working muscles. I suspect that appetite may rebound later, however, as many clients report feeling hungry later on in the day of a tough workout. This is a bummer, since muscles absorb the most carbohydrate and protein right after exercise, especially in that first hour, and less so as time passes.

Of course, research only tells us how most people react most of the time, and researchers keep emphasizing that appetite is a very complex thing, not well understood yet. Pay attention to your own exercise-appetite connection and see what works best for you.

Have a good week!


March 1, 2013

Unexpected Ingredients


I'm continually surprised by how the minute I let down my guard, I get burned by sneaky ingredients. Examples include:

It's not necessarily so terrible to eat these things, but if you care about ingredients, don't let down your guard.

Have a good week!


January 14, 2013

How to absorb fewer calories


The way a food is prepared can change the percentage of calories and nutrients absorbed from it. For example:

  1. Cooking. Cooking breaks down food and makes it more absorbable--both the contained calories and some of the nutrients. This is a bummer for those of us who hoped baked apples and all-fruit jam were as weight-friendly as raw fruit.

  2. Grinding. You absorb more calories from flour than from whole grains and more from peanut butter (or any nut butter) than from eating the whole nut. One study found a 25% difference between nuts and nut butters. Ground meat also offers more absorbable calories than steak.

  3. Juicing. The fiber in fruits and veggies can prevent some calories from getting absorbed when eaten whole. Removing the fiber makes it easier (and faster) to absorb everything else. This is why many experts are fine with vegetable juices--which barely contain any sugar or calories--but warn against consuming too many fruit juices. (Carrots, beets and a few other veggies do have enough sugar that experts suggest eating those more than juicing them.)

  4. Blending. Fruit smoothies generally give you more absorbed calories than chewing your own fresh fruit. Ditto for most other things you might put in the blender, such as beans (for hummus) or blended soups or mashed potatoes.

  5. Heating (or re-heating). Even if a food is already cooked, like a day-old leftover baked potato, there appears to be a difference between eating it cold versus reheated.

In some ways, this feels like the same old "processed foods make you gain weight" information, although it reminds us that just heating or blending healthy whole foods counts as processing them. It suggests that for folks who want to lose weight, it really does make a difference to exchange nut butter for raw nuts, cereal or bread for whole grains like brown rice, fruit roll-ups for fresh fruit, and so on.

Many clients ask how to count absorbed calories versus eaten ones, and I'm stumped on that one. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Have a good week!