Getting Fit: Ignore the Fad Diets

Beware the Fad Diet

fad dietHave you wanted to lose weight but thought you had to jump through hoops to do it? You aren’t alone. Every year America spends $60 billion dollars towards the diet and health industry. That money gets spent on things like unnecessary nutritional supplements and ingredients that Dr. Oz swears by, expensive juicers, gym memberships, and organic foods from the latest fad diet. But, how bad can they be? Today, I will list a couple of reasons to avoid fad diets at all costs.

 

They Can Produce Harmful Results

Around the early 2000’s, I remember getting put on the low carbohydrate, high protein Atkins diet for a short while.  After that, I stopped to focus on other things. It was a good thing that I didn’t hop on that bandwagon for too long because the long-term effects of that diet increased mortality rates among men and women.

And the harm doesn’t stop there. The Paleo/Caveman diet, a diet that consists of eating plants and meat around your neighborhood, can lead to nutritional deficiencies. According to the UC Davis Medical Center, “The typical paleo diet puts most at risk for deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D, which are critical to bone health.  At the same time, saturated fat and protein can be consumed far above recommended levels, increasing the risk of kidney and heart disease and certain cancers.”

And that is only the best case scenario. If the dieting gets even more strict, there is a good chance that you could wind up extremely malnourished or pick up an eating disorder.

 

They Only Work Short Term

The Biggest Loser was a weight loss related tv show that pitted contestants in teams against one another to determine who could lose fad diet, the most weight in the shortest amount of time. A scientist at the National Institute of Health watched the show and recorded the results of one season over time. What he learned was that after they had left the reality tv show and started integrating into the real world, “13 of the 14 contestants gained, on average, 66% of the weight they’d lost on the show, and four were heavier than they were before the competition.”  In fact, the chances of keeping weight off after losing it in a diet are 5%.

That is not only frustrating but is practically making the practice of dieting outright useless. What’s more, there is no guarantee that drastic weight loss will always guarantee you better health. According to this study, “An intensive lifestyle intervention focusing on weight loss did not reduce the rate of cardiovascular events in overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes.”

So what should you do instead of picking up a fad diet? Find out Next Week.

 

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Getting Fit – Get on Track with a Food Journal

Introducing yourself to Healthy Habits

A lot of stress that comes with the idea of changing your lifestyle via diet and exercise, is the drudgery of counting every single calorie. Whether you sign up for the weight watcher point system or just start looking at more nutritional labels, the idea can be exhausting. And that is for people who have time on their hands and are good with numbers. Most of today’s Americans are juggling work, family, education, and a social life all at the same time. So of course, people are going to be reluctant when it comes to things like counting calories or weighing and measuring everything you eat.

That sort of reluctance is what stops us from getting into the habit of a healthy diet and exercise. So what can you do to help yourself in this predicament?

 

Record Something

The only way to get over something you dread or fear is to confront it.  And the only way to confront something like a bad habit is to have solid evidence of what you are doing. That’s when having a private food/exercise journal comes in handy. The purpose of a food journal is not to count every food sin you committed. It, like the scale and the jeans, are tools to show you where you are at and are there to help you calculate your next step.

You don’t have to be painfully specific, and you don’t have to take too much time with it. It can even be the note-taking app on your phone. Just be honest and get a good gist of what you had to eat or your activity levels. Then examine for a moment what you are looking at when you are finished writing it down at the end of the day/week/ month/ etc.  Did you eat too much junk food? Did you eat more vegetables? Were you able to get enough protein in your diet?

If you go down this mental checklist, you can keep yourself mindful when it is time for the next meal or snack to come around.

Even if you feel guilty or you think you forgot something, be consistent and honest with this exercise. This isn’t about appearances. It is about reflection.

The more you write something down in your food journal, the more you will be aware of your food habits. And when you are made more aware, you can do better for yourself and start living a more healthy lifestyle.

 

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Getting Fit- The Starting Point

Don’t Fear Measurements

 

dont fear the scale

 

 

Scales and Tight Jeans are Scary…but are Just Objects

 

No one wants to deal with the dreaded thing in the bathroom that measures your weight. Especially if you haven’t kept track for so long. That innocent square that lies on the tile floor in your bathroom has no idea of the expectations, judgment, and disappointment that can come from its verdict. It cannot possibly know your shame and dismay when you wipe the dust off of it and get ready to take that first step.

Objectively, it is just a tool of measurement.  It cannot prophesy your fate and it cannot bring you messages of doom.  The scale is just a square that pops up a number.  It cannot judge, feel, nor click its tongue in disapproval.  It can only show you a number. Anything negative connection that comes with the numbers doesn’t come from the scale. It comes from inside your head.

The same could be said about the pair of jeans that are getting to be too tight. It is not lying in your drawer or across your bed in hopes of crushing your spirit and it can’t plot or think about the size of your waistline. It is just a piece of clothing that doesn’t stretch that well.

 

They are Objects that Serve as Signs

But, the scale and the tight pair of jeans still say something, even if they can’t hold a judgmental opinion. They serve as signs about the direction you are headed in. If the jeans are too tight, and the scale number is higher, you are gaining weight. If you if they are opposite, there are signs that you are losing weight. Either of those being good or bad is all up to individual circumstance and interpretation.  If you gained 10 lbs. over the holidays and see it as a sign to lose weight, then use the number on the scale as a starting point. If you gain 2lbs, it could just be that you ate a heavy meal, and the number will go down tomorrow morning.

scale

These signs are nothing to panic over. They are just a starting point for you to respond to. If you respond to messages like these with fear and anxiety, then you will only hurt yourself in the long run, through either procrastination or flat-out denial. And those never lead to healthy places.

 

If you want some more advice from Alabama Nutritionist Bekah Dewitt, check out more of the blog articles. If you want to book an appointment, head to the home page and click on the pop-up.

How the Millennial Generation Views Health

Everyone is Different – So is our Perception of Health

 

Millennials

 

Then

outdated food pyramid, millennials health
                 Outdated Food Pyramid

Millennials grew up in a world in which technology, information, and communication started to grow at a rapid pace. Typically identified as the generation born between 1979 to 1997,  Millennials had front row seats to many major worldwide shifts.  They sat and watched as our world grew more connected globally through various world events such as the end of the Cold War and the invention of the internet.

 

Middle-class Millenials had Gen X parents who mostly wanted to give their children everything that they didn’t have growing up and often had parents who were much more involved in their lives.  Advertising and commercialism were at an all-time high, with products like toys and unhealthy foods targeted specifically for children and preteens.

 

There were also more structured public school programs devoted to certain topics including but not limited to, drug abuse education, sex education, nutrition, and physical education. The programs were either in their infancy or needed updating, but they did exist at the time. The advent of the internet also made information regarding health topics more readily available from the mid-90’s onward.

Now

Millennials today had their optimistic worldview shattered from 2001 until today. This is due in part to witnessing multiple violent events such as September 11th, the war in Iraq, and school shootings. They have also felt the blow of an economic depression, the housing crisis of 2008, and a multitude of political and corporate scandals.  The present combined with past events created an interesting consequence to how Millennials both view and manage their health.

millennial fitness, millennial health, fitness trackerMillenials do not compartmentalize health like their grandparents. Nor do they push their own health aside for the sake of others like their parents. Instead, they look at health as a series of parts that mesh into a whole.  They work hard to balance out their mental, physical, and nutritional health through a long-term holistic point of view. This is due in part to the Millennial generation continuing their education like their parents and incorporating technology into their daily routines.

Things like Fitbit and health apps remind them when and what to eat as well as when and how to exercise. Social media has also enabled them to become more accountable to their peers and connect them to other people who are also going through the same nutritional and exercise programs as they are.

However, they avoid doctors visits, much like their parents. There are a few reasons that they don’t go to the doctors. It could be that they are skeptical of the health institution as a whole, or that they are afraid of getting bad news.  The main reason for over 50% of Millennials who avoid going to the doctor is the cost of healthcare bills. They are a fiscally anxious bunch who’d rather invest in preventative health care than worry about unaffordable medical expenses.

Conclusion

Throughout multiple generations, the definition of health has changed thanks to ongoing education and awareness. What used to be considered private, compartmentalized, or stigmatized, has morphed into something that people talk about and take into their own hands.

But we still have a long way to go.

We still need comprehensive health care for every generation. We also need to make health education and healthy eating options available for families with lower incomes. The good news is that we are finally hitting a plateau in things like adult obesity, and child obesity has slowly seen a decrease, but we still need to do better.

 

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How Generation X Sees Health

Everyone is Different – So is our Perception of Health

 

Whether a person’s opinion or way of life is shaped by their upbringing or genetics, there is no argument that everyone in the world sees everything differently.  You would be hard-pressed to find two individuals that agree on every single thing. Heck, even when it comes to the people we love, we sometimes disagree or outright argue over a topic that is important to them.  When we participate in such a conflict, it doesn’t mean that either party is 100 percent wrong or right. When we have these conflicts it just means that we carry a level of subjectivity, that comes with the human experience.

That’s why it should be no surprise to anyone that different generations of people have so many different viewpoints when it comes to health and how we manage it.

 

Generation X

 

The Past

 

If there was ever a generation that is the living embodiment of the ‘middle child syndrome’, it would be Generation X. Typically defined as the generation born between 1966-1976, Gen X had front row seats to drastic changes in the way people defined society. The earliest of the generation witnessed the implementation of racial integration in schools, women joining the workforce, generation x , time mag, health generationand were typically children of divorced parents.

In a stark contrast to their parent’s upbringing, society was less focused on the needs of the children, and more on the needs of adults. It didn’t help that there wasn’t that much in the way of childcare in the 70’s either.  This meant that while either a single parent or both parents went out to work every day, children would be mostly unsupervised.

This sort of upbringing combined with political scandal and economic recession coming out of the woodwork has shaped the children of this generation to be self-sufficient, skeptical of authority, pragmatic, and resourceful in their own way.

The Present

Today, the typical Gen Xer is middle-aged and are caught between taking care of their growing children and their aging parents. They see themselves as the primary decision makers when it comes to the entire family, including things like healthcare.

generation x, stressed, healthThey demand transparency from the people they are working with, and are the first generation with a “work to live” attitude. Things like bureaucracy and red tape annoy them the most, and they prefer to be directly involved with the people they are working with.

Unfortunately, when it comes to their health, Gen Xers are doing worse than their parents and children when it comes to preventative measures and doctors visits.  According to the latest MDVIP Longevity survey:

 

  • Only half (55 percent) of Gen Xers – versus 72 percent of Boomers – have had an annual physical exam in the past five years.
  • One in three (32 percent) Gen Xers avoid going to the doctor out of fear of finding something wrong.
  • Two out of three Gen Xers admit they could be doing a better job of exercising regularly (67 percent), eating well (66 percent), maintaining a healthy weight (63 percent) and managing stress (66 percent).

 

And the sad part is that they are aware that they aren’t taking care of themselves, but are too overwhelmed to confront the situation.

 

What does it Mean?

Most likely, it means that Gen Xers want to do better, and know they should do more regarding their health but are quick to ignore their own needs and preventative measures for the sake of other family members and responsibilities. Maybe it is a byproduct of long-term neglect, but it is a phenomenon that is bad enough to decrease the average American life expectancy for the first time in 20 years. 

 

To them, healthcare is a nebulous and terrifying concept that takes a great amount of effort and causes a large amount of anxiety. Healthcare and the idea of preventative health need to be addressed to this generation as a series of small pragmatic steps. They should also get the chance to feel included in the discussion with their doctors and less like they are just another patient.

If you want to read more about how different generations handle health, click here. If you want to book an appointment with Nutritionist Bekah Dewitt Huntsville Alabama, click the pop up on the front page.

How People of Different Generations View Health- Baby Boomers

Everyone is Different – So is our Perception of Health

 

Whether a person’s opinion or way of life is shaped by their upbringing or genetics, there is no argument that everyone in the world sees everything differently.  You would be hard-pressed to find two individuals that agree on every single thing. Heck, even when it comes to the people we love, we sometimes disagree or outright argue over a topic that is important to them.  When we participate in such a conflict, it doesn’t mean that either party is 100 percent wrong or right. When we have these conflicts it just means that we carry a level of subjectivity, that comes with the human experience.

That’s why it should be no surprise to anyone that different generations of people have so many different viewpoints when it comes to health and how we manage it.

 

Generational Definitions of Healthy

This blog has covered different ideas of health between different cultures, like China, Australia, Italy, etc, but that is hardly the tip of the iceberg.  Where does America stand on the issue of health? Why do different generations see things like health differently than others? Is one more objectively better than the other?  Also, what shaped each generational worldview regarding health? Where does nutrition fall into this?

We will be examining Baby Boomers and Generations X-Y-Z  in America for in-depth answers to some of these questions.

 

Baby Boomers

 

Past

breakfast with the family, traditional This is defined as the generation of people that were born from 1946-1964 and were named after a mass increase of children being born after American soldiers came home from WWII. They grew up and participated at a time when civil rights were seen as the most important thing for the country and they have contributed greatly towards those political and social changes.

There was also major progress when it came to medicine. Vaccines for things like polio and measles were developed in the 1950s  to the early 1970’s  and drastically decreased the child mortality rate of that generation. There was also an increased awareness of things like mental health and a look at organizational psychology. While mental illnesses like schizophrenia were still stigmatized, there was an increased interest in behavioral science.

Things like home economics and nutritional education were more commonplace in the school system at the time and middle-class mothers who stayed at home painstakingly focused on nutrition when preparing meals. However, it wasn’t seen as a necessary survival skill for all students and was more of a result of gender stereotypes.

So, now that you have a snapshot of the past, how does that play into how the Babyboomers of today view health?

 

Present

 

babyboomer, doctor visitFor starters, Baby Boomers are proactive when it comes to taking care of their own personal health.

They are unafraid to go to the doctor when they are sick, and they are attentive enough to do their own research and check with multiple doctors to make sure they have the right opinion and diagnosis.

They are also unafraid of getting prescription medication, the moment that they don’t feel too well.  According to the American Medical Association,”Between 1996 and 2006, there was about a 25 percent increase in the number of people between the ages of 55 and 64 who received more than five prescriptions during a hospital visit.”

However, that doesn’t mean that they are considered the healthiest generation. Their increasingly sedentary lifestyle and increase in junk food intake have lead to an increase in obesity and chronic conditions that come with it.  In the latest study by  the United Health Foundation, boomers are presenting,  “higher rates of obesity and diabetes and lower rates of very good or excellent health status, putting significant strain on the healthcare system.” They are also suffering an increase of depression and anxiety, mental conditions, and stress that comes with the rapid changes of globalization and technological growth.

 

What does it Mean?

When they think of health, they think about getting sick, taking medicine, and feeling better.  It has more to do with fighting against disease and is less about a lifestyle concept for them.  This kind of compartmentalization of health is common with the baby boomer generation since they are brought up to believe in ‘putting things in their place’.  They grew up thinking their home life shouldn’t mix with their work life, that men and women have their places in the home and that doctors would know more about their health than anyone else. Their greatest concern to date is to combat aging and live longer. They accomplish this by dieting and exercising when their doctor tells them to and taking medications needed to help with physical problems.

 

Do you want to book an appointment with Huntsville Alabama’s Nutritionist Bekah Dewitt? Head back to the home page and click on the pop-up!

Ways to Stay Healthy

Exercise:

exercise, stretching

 

An Anecdote

I don’t know about Bekah or you guys, but growing up in the public school system, I hated PE.  You had to dress up in a mandatory uniform that counted toward or against your grade, participate an militaristic calisthenics, be subjected to ridicule in the locker rooms, and get hit by too many balls in the face.

What I did like at all was when I lucked up on a day where everyone had to walk/run around the track outside the football training field. I could go at my own pace, I didn’t have to talk to the other girls if I didn’t want to, and I could get lost in my imagination as I put one foot in front of the other.

After I graduated, while I wasn’t a fan of routine exercise, in general, I also didn’t own a car, so I learned about my neighborhood through walking the area and listening to music.

Today, if someone tells me to go to a gym, or even mention the word, I feel like its another chore that I don’t want to bother with. If someone invites me to a round of basketball, I would laugh at the suggestion.

If someone wanted me to walk the dog, however, I would jump on it immediately. Because I could go where I please and ponder deep philosophical questions like, “Why are they bringing back American Idol?”.

 

Find Exercise You Enjoy

The point of the story is that when you think of exercise as a chore, you are going to make up excuses. You will equate that with stress, and avoid it instead of achieve your goal. Why would anyone want to do that to themselves?

If you do something active that you like, you are much more likely to find fulfillment while getting fit. You will even find yourself looking forward to it.

Will you ever catch me playing soccer for exercise? Probably not. But will you catch me slimmer at the end of the summertime? Probably, and it won’t be 100% intentional.

So, when you vow to exercise, take some time to find something you like. If you treat it like torture, you will just make yourself miserable.

 

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2018 New Start in a New Year

How Do I Get Healthy?

Aka: How to make a Mountain look like a Series of Molehills

 

This is probably the most frustrating and terrifying question that people ask themselves every new year. We swear to become better versions of ourselves, and hit the gym hard while gnawing on celery sticks usually at the first of the year. It all sounds well and good on paper and in concept. After all, it is important to try and improve your quality of life.  However, this sort of behavior can lead to less of a healthy lifestyle that focuses on the long-term goals and more towards just a short burst of quick healthy actions before going back to eating junk food on a regular basis.

So, what can you do to improve your quality of life long term, without having to kill yourself in the process?  Luckily, I have a few tips that can point you in the right direction and make the concept of being healthier appear less daunting.

 

Make Small Good Decisions

 

 

healthy, how to get healthy

 

 

 

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but when it comes to making any sort of major goal, looking at the entire thing as a whole is outright terrifying. The bigger a goal looks, the more likely I personally freeze and pretend that I have other important things to do.  So, instead of looking at it like a giant nebulous untouchable concept I instead look at it as just a small series of steps. As the old adage goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.  You can’t immediately lose 10-50 lbs overnight. So just make a few small good decisions every day instead to build toward it.

So instead of eating cereal in the morning, I eat an apple. Yay for me, I did a healthy thing!  Instead of parking close to the doors I park farther away and get a few extra steps in while shopping! Yay for me, I did another healthy thing!  I choose stevia as a sweetener for coffee instead of granulated sugar. Huzzah! I did a good thing! How do I reward myself? Read a book or get a new top that suddenly fits.

If you keep this pattern of thinking and behaving you will slowly develop healthy habits. Instead of a short burst of healthy actions out of feeling guilty, you get a long-term set of healthy habits through positive reinforcement.

 

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Holiday Survival 2.0 – Part 3

Surviving Holiday Office Parties and other Gatherings

 

It’s that time of year again folks. The time of year when everyone in your workplace, extended family, book club, and so on decides it would be fun to throw a party filled with presents, alcohol, and junk food. If you are dieting or just conscious about how much you eat, it can be frustrating. After all, there are too many baked goods and novelty snacks that are being shoved down our proverbial throats from Halloween to New Years. I guess that’s why winter weight gain is a running stereotype.  What can you do? Is there any way to stick with your diet, and still enjoy the holiday season?

The answer is yes, but it is a balancing act, much like many other aspects of life. Here are a few ways that you can “tip the scales” back in your favor during the holiday season from our favorite nutritionist, Bekah Dewitt. Let’s get into the habit of healthy eating during the holidays.

 

Keep Track of Your Eating Habits

Human memory isn’t as reliable as you think it is. Unlike a photo or a movie, that can capture every detail in an image, a memory is more malleable. It waxes and wanes and depends on different forms of stimuli, depending on what that memory is associated with. In fact, even eyewitness testimony is not considered strong evidence in a court of law because of its subjectivity.

What do you do, if you don’t remember what you have eaten all day? How do you keep track? The answer is easy, write it down.

 

healthy eating during the holidays

 

When you have physical evidence of what you have eaten, you can manage what you can or can not risk eating at a Christmas or New Years gathering.

Weigh yourself every day and write it down, or write down what you ate before doing your next task.  It takes a minute or two of your time, but it is okay for you to take care of yourself first.

 

Enjoy Small Indulgences… After you Eat the Healthy Stuff

 

It’s okay to eat your favorite dessert once in a while, especially during the holiday season. There is no need to be terrified of enjoying yourself. The key thing about a healthy diet is balance, not deprivation. The problem that causes weight gain is too many sweets and junk food, and not enough of the healthy stuff.

 

healthy eating during the holidays

 

So, if you want that particular cupcake that you see at the end of the buffet line? Plan ahead and get one after you’ve eaten from the fruit and vegetable tray. Do you want some of that cherry icecream? Get one scoop instead of three. The key is to not overdo it. And, after you have eaten your fruits and vegetables, you will feel enough satiety to the point that you won’t want to eat that second dessert anyway.

 

For more holiday survival tips, click here and here. If you want to set up a consultation appointment with Bekah, head to the home page and click on the chatbot.

Holiday Survival 2.0 – Part 2

Surviving Holiday Office Parties and other Gatherings

 

It’s that time of year again folks. The time of year when everyone in your workplace, extended family, book club, and so on decides it would be fun to throw a party filled with presents, alcohol, and junk food. If you are dieting or just conscious about how much you eat, it can be frustrating. After all, there are too many baked goods and novelty snacks that are being shoved down our proverbial throats from Halloween to New Years. I guess that’s why winter weight gain is a running stereotype.  What can you do? Is there any way to stick with your diet, and still enjoy the holiday season?

The answer is yes, but it is a balancing act, much like many other aspects of life. Here are a few ways that you can “tip the scales” back in your favor during the holiday season from our favorite nutritionist, Bekah Dewitt.

Be Picky about your Drinks

 

Flavored beverages are a sneaky way for empty calories to infiltrate your body and wreak havoc on your waistline.  And I am not just talking about things with sugar in them, like lemonade or soda, though they do play their part. I am talking about alcohol and coffee. Whether you want to indulge in a glass of chardonnay in the evening with friends or you decide to pick up a cup of mocha to keep awake, it all adds up to your total caloric intake.

Alcohol

low calorie alcohol

Regarding alcohol, mixed drinks/ cocktails are usually the worst. They sweeten the alcohol with sugar-filled flavoring and it adds that much more to an already high-calorie venture.  If you do want to indulge yourself, there are low-calorie options for things like beer, wine, and champagne. Spirits are also lower on the calorie side of things.

 

Coffee

 

Black coffee, on its own, is not as bad for you in terms of calories. It is a diuretic and provides a decent amount of energy in caffeine. Unfortunately, if you are not into bitter substances, you will no doubt want to sweeten your coffee with stuff like sugar and cream. Just be careful with what you put in it. If you overdo it on the syrups and whipped cream, you are going to wind up with more sugar than a can of coke, and far more calories to contend with come New Years.

sugary coffee

 

For more holiday survival tips, click here and here. If you want to set up a consultation appointment with Bekah, head to the home page and click on the chatbot.