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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Five Secret Tricks to Regain Control of Your Eating (Part 4)

Welcome back to this series of life-changing tips which are very simple to use!

To recap, we use going to use the “Half Plate Habit” everywhere, chew gum while shopping, and move temptations at the office out of sight.

But many of us eat one or more meals away from home and office. What about when we eat at a restaurant? How can you use the “Half Plate Habit” when you are not in charge of plating your food?

I will offer a few simple actions. Oh, I know, you already know the trick about having the server pack up half the entrée before they even bring it to the table. That will prevent you from eating the entire meal without thinking.

(Do you do that? I don’t. I should, but I don’t.)

And we probably should order all those “heart healthy” foods. You know, those foods with the little heart logo. But do we? Not usually. Sometimes those foods just don't look appetizing, or the portions seem too small, but for whatever reason, we ignore those options.

So what can we do? I have three simple suggestions.

  • One is seating location. Ask for a seat near a window or a well-lit location. When people sit in a booth, in the far corner, dark and isolated, people tend to order more and then eat more. Sitting near a window or on the outdoor patio, generally helps people make healthier choices. When you can be seen, you will usually do what you “should do.”

  • The second step is when you order a meal, remember to use the “Half Plate Habit”. Instead of a starchy side dish, ask for extra vegetable or a side salad. And when the server arrives, immediately ask for a glass of water with a lemon or cucumber slice, and ask him or her to not bring the dinner roll basket.

  • Lastly, you should try to limit alcohol consumption. Not only is alcohol empty calories, but one of the first effects of alcohol is to put our “decider brain” into a deep sleep. That is why we tend to eat when we drink. But if you are sitting near the window you probably will also not be sitting near the bar, so that decision will be easier. 

If you really want to throw caution to the winds, and bypass everything we've learned so far, order food while sitting at a dimly lit bar, during double-bubble happy hour, and with 2 televisions going.

But if you really want to do that, we will need to have a one-on-one session.

And just a reminder, if you do not want to wait, you can listen to last week's podcast, where I list all five suggestions. The show is about 30 minutes long, and you can find it here. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes (for users of Apple products) or Stitcher (non-Apple devices.)

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I want to acknowledge Dr. Brian Wansink and both of his excellent books, “Mindless Eating” and “Slim By Design”. His research and more importantly, his well-written and easy to read books were the source of these suggestions. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Five Secret Tricks to Regain Control of Your Eating (Part 3)

If you just found this blog, I am giving five tricks (they really are not secret) for learning how to gain control over your eating habits.

On Monday, we learned a new method of portion control. It does not require weighing or measuring your food, nor do you need to record what you eat. It is called the "Half Plate Habit." Yesterday, we went grocery shopping and learned a simple (and tasty) tip for keeping your buying habits under control while at the grocery store or market.

What about at work? Oh, that is a major challenge, right? I know coworkers who always have a bowl of candies on their desk. In fact, I have a bowl of candy in my cubicle, too.

There are two saying that could apply here. One is “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” But the saying which really applies is “Out of sight is out of mind.”

Did you notice the difference with my candy bowl? Mine is not on my desk. I keep it in a cabinet drawer, locked, behind my chair. I only use it when I know I am meeting with students, especially at the end of the semester. I unlock the candy, and place it out just before the students arrive, and when they leave, I immediately lock it back up.

The time it takes to unlock my cabinet is just enough for my “decider brain” to kick in and remind me that I really do not want nor need that candy. Another option is to put the candy in a covered bowl (ideally not a clear bowl) and moving it a mere six feet away. Just six feet! Those few steps are enough to get your “decider brain” active and in control. Candy in sight and within reach is candy that will be eaten.

Something else to do at work is to lock you purse or wallet in another drawer. That will prevent the random wander past the vending machines or cafeteria. The other tip for the work place is to bring your own food from home. When you pack your food, you are in control of everything. You know exactly what you packed, and how much you have. (Remember, you will still use the “Half Plate Habit” even when packing your food.)


Don’t sit at your desk and eat. Go to the cafeteria or go outside and eat while enjoying the sun. But don’t bring your money with you, so that will eliminate the temptation of buying some food there. Enjoy your time away from your desk. Enjoy your food. Recharge your mind away from your desk.


And just a reminder, if you do not want to wait, you can listen to last week's podcast, where I list all five suggestions. The show is about 30 minutes long, and you can find it here. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes (for users of Apple products) or Stitcher (non-Apple devices.)

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I want to acknowledge Dr. Brian Wansink and both of his excellent books, “Mindless Eating” and “Slim By Design”. His research and more importantly, his well-written and easy to read books were the source of these suggestions. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Five Secret Tricks to Regain Control of Your Eating (Part 2)

Yesterday, I talked about a new approach to weight management. Specifically, I gave you the idea of  the "Half Plate Habit."

Using the Half Plate Habit whenever you eat from a plate will help you regain control over your eating. It is an easy method of teaching self-control, and costs nothing to implement. That's right. A free new method to assist weight management and possibly weight loss.

While the Half Plate Habit can be used anywhere, the next suggestion is location-specific. Another place where you encounter food is at the grocery store. We all know that shopping on an empty stomach is a bad idea (but we still do it all the time). 

However, studies show that it is not that we are hungry when we shop, but rather that our good memory and imagination kicks in to tempt us. We walk past broccoli, cabbage and onions with no imagination input, but walk past the delicatessen, the aisle full of potato chips or the bakery with its fresh doughnuts, and we start remembering how good those donuts taste, we remember the sound of crunching those chips, and we revel in the memory of the last time we ate those warm onion rings (at the last football game, right?)

(Side note: as I sit here and write this section, my stomach is growling and my salivary glands are working overtime. And I do not have anything in front of me other than my laptop. It is all my imagination and memory creating this physiological response, just as if I were standing in front of an endless sea of sweets.)

How can we short-circuit our imagination and memory? We are going to give it something else to focus on:

Gum

It could be Bubbliscious, Juicy Fruit, or Bazooka Joe, but when we chew gum while shopping, it is more difficult to imagine the taste of those onion ring and sweet rolls. Please give this a try. This is the only suggestion that will cost you any money, and the price of gum will probably be offset by the savings when you don’t buy that bag of Cheetos.


That's it for today's tip. Tomorrow will be a suggestion for simple changes on the job.

And just a reminder, if you do not want to wait, you can listen to last week's podcast, where I list all five suggestions. The show is about 30 minutes long, and you can find it here. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes (for users of Apple products) or Stitcher (non-Apple devices.)

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Again, I want to acknowledge Dr. Brian Wansink and both of his excellent books, “Mindless Eating” and “Slim By Design”. His research and more importantly, his well-written and easy to read books, were the source of these suggestions.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Five Secret Tricks to Regain Control of Your Eating (Part 1)

Let’s start with the beginning. 

Most people are overweight in the US. Recent studies show more than 60% of people 12 and older are overweight, and about half are clinically obese. It’s not getting better over time, it is getting worse.

But everyone already knows that, or if you don’t know that, I’m not sure where you are living. The US is big.

That was the origin of my blog and podcast. I wanted to help people reach their goals—all goals—including weight management. And my constant refrain is “calorie counting and move more than you used to.”

I still believe that to be the foundation of any successful weight management program. I use LoseIt to easily count my calories and my Fitbit to keep reminding me to walk more.

But, that is not enough. Or rather, maybe that is too much, at least in the beginning. Learning to eat the correct number of calories, and then log them all, and then create a new habit of walking more are three very large goals. They are worthy goals, but it is possible they are too large, too aggressive, and too monumental to talk all at once.

I am working with a weight loss client. Let’s call him “John”. We connect about three times a week with email, video mail and Skype calls. Last weekend we were talking about his strategy, and a phrase came to me. I told him that while his goal is large, we are going to focus on "Simple Small Successes". Small goals that can build on each other, creating a succession of successful actions. We are going to set John up for success, because each goal has a very simple threshold. Success breeds success. As we move further into his program, the goals will continue to be simple, but eventually they will result in very large changes to his eating and living habits.

I started to think about how I can help more people. I’d love to be able to meet with all of my readers and listeners as I do with John (and it is possible for some) but until I am able to become a fulltime consultant and coach, I will give your advice here.

There are five areas that affect our eating habits, five locations that we can make very small changes to help you make better choices.

You will not need to buy different food, cook differently, or eat at different restaurants. You will not count calories, do special exercises, and go to meetings. In fact, there is only one thing you will need to purchase, and it will cost you only some spare change! But we will get to that in a bit.

But before I give you my ideas, I want to give full credit to Dr. Brian Wansinck. He is the author of two books about the habit of eating. “Mindless Eating” is an excellent discussion of our bad habits while eating. And we all have them. His newest book, “Slim By Design” takes his first book and adds many actions that will help the reader change their life. So to be clear, none of these ideas are mine. I am using his ideas. My words. His ideas.

We encounter food in four general places: home, the grocery store, the work place and restaurants. I am going to give you specific steps for each of those places. Remember, I am focusing on Simple Small Successes and each one of these ideas are free, simple and effective.

What are they?

Let’s start with the first idea, which can and should be used anywhere. Let’s consider the plate you use to eat.

How much of eat group are you supposed to eat? And what size plate?

The USDA has a complicated definition of how much of eat type of food to eat. And if you want to follow that, you will eat very healthy. But it is not simple, and remember this is all about “Small Simple Successes”.

This is what MyPlate looks like on my actual plate.

So instead of the USDA plate with its four categories, I suggest an easier approach. It is simply eating with a “Half Plate Habit.” Take your plate—any plate—and visually divide it in half. That is easy enough, right?

Then—here comes the easiest part—when you eat, fill one half with fruits, vegetables and green leafy salads. Tuna pasta salad and potato salad do not count here. But all the steamed, roasted, grilled and raw veggies you like, your favorite fruits, and a nice salad with fresh greens, that will be how you fill half your plate.
Easy enough?

The other half? Anything you want.

Seriously.

Anything you want, but with two rules: the food cannot extend over the edge, and you cannot pile food on top of other food. But otherwise, pizza, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, BBQ ribs, quinoa salad can all go on this half. This is where the tuna pasta salad and potato salad will go, along with the onion rings, French fries, and brownies.

Wait a minute! Do I really think this will help you gain control over eating? It sounds like I am suggesting that pigging out is the answer to being overweight.

Yes. It will help. Think about it. First off, you only have half a plate to fill with the “pig out” food, and I limit it to not extending over the edges, and not piled high. So the reality is you will not get a lot on that plate. But the other half is full of the really good food, the healthy food. The fruits have sugars, which will satisfy your sweet tooth (and we all have one) while the veggies and their fiber help fill our stomach with bulk but not many calories.

But the real magic happens when you decide you want that extra piece of pizza. When you get up to go get it, you then remember that you will also need to eat a half plate of fruit and veggies, too. Many times, you will decide that maybe you really do not want that pizza that badly, and you will stop eating, and very likely eat much less than you normally would have eaten.

What happens if you cheat and take the pizza but not the fruit and veggies? Well, yes it is cheating, but the only person who loses is you. This “Half Plate Habit” will only work if you really want it to work. It will be the most difficult of my five suggestions, but it is the most important, because you will be able to use this everywhere: at home, at a family gathering, at an all you can eat buffet, and at work.

This one habit will be the first habit to propel you to success.

That is my first "secret" trick to gain control over your eating habits. This trick can be--should be--used everywhere you eat.

Tomorrow we will go to a specific place of food, and give you a simple and extremelt inexpensive trick to help you maintain control.

If you do not want to wait for the next blog post to reveal and explain the next tip for control, you can listen to my podcast http://makeyoursomedaytoday.com/5Tricks and hear all of them.

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Note: the links to LoseIt and Fitbit are my affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one (or all) I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today. That is the only firm of payment I have here, or in the podcast. I tell you about tools that worked for, and if you belief they can help you, your purchase keeps my work going. And for that, I thank you!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Do You Want to Eat Healthier, Gain Control and Maybe Even Lose Weight?

Such a simple thing: a bowl of fresh fruit

This bowl of fruit will help you eat healthier by making better choices. It will help you gain control over your eating habits and your life. And it will help you better manage your weight. It may help you lose weight.

It may help increase your happiness.

It sounds like it is magic, bit its not. But it is a sneaky trick.  Our brains our powerful and sometimes work against our best interests.

Next week, I will post a 5 part series here, beginning on Monday, October 27, 2014, giving you secret "tricks" that you can do anywhere: at home, the office, in a restaurant, in the grocery store.

These tricks are simple. And effective when used. And they cost almost nothing. Well, one trick will cost you about 50 cents a month. Maybe less.

But take note. With these five small changes, you will not be asked to:

  • Buy different food
  • Cook differently
  • Eat at strange restaurant
  • Stop eating at restaurants
  • Count calories (Yes. That's right I said "NOT count calories!!!!")
  • Weight and measure your food
  • Perform exhausting exercises
  • Attend meetings
  • Buy special "fat burning, metabolism-revving, appetite suppressing" pills
So what are the five secret tricks?

I'll post them next week, one a day, beginning on Monday.

Yes. I know. This is an unsufferable tease. Do you really want to know what they are sooner? If so, you can listen to my podcast where I release all the goodies. 


Wow. Such a mean way to oncourage more people to listen to my podcast. (Guilty as charged.)

And after you listen, go to the homepage (http://MakeYourSomedayToday.com) and click on the yellowish button that reads "Varsity Squad" and join the group of team mates who get the earliest scoop on new information.

Get ready for five simple changes that will change your life.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where Do You Want to Go?

Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be?

Photo by David Marcu, via Unsplash.com

I don't know your answer to those questions. Maybe you don't either. But your options are nearly unlimited. Or rather, they are only limited by one thing: you.

What do you want?

The first step in anything is having a plan. Choose something as your goal. Weight loss. New career. Launch a podcast. Walk the Pacific Crest Trail. Anything. Find a goal, something that you are passionate over, and make a specific goal statement. Picture what success looks like. Write your goal--on paper--and attach it somewhere you will see it frequently. Be as specific as specific as possible. Set a deadline, for all goals except weight loss. Our bodies are frequent obstinant about losing weight. Focus on the end weight, not a due date, and you will have less frustration.

The next step is take action which moves you toward the goal. Right now. Don't wait. Tomorrow will not be any better than today. Just act. Will it be the right action? I don't know. Neither do you, until you try. If you want to lose weight, maybe that means downloading a calorie-counting app (like LoseIt, which I use.) Start using it. If you find success, great! If after a few weeks of consistent use, you find it unhelpful, try something else. Nothing will happen until you do something!

You may decide to get more active. I wear my Fitbit to help keep me moving. But you need to 1) wear it, and 2) keep moving to get any benefit!

I have a friend who stated in November 2013 that he would launch his podcast in one year. To date, he still is chasing ideas for his podcast. As he puts it, "When you chase two rabbits, you don't catch any." Now, that isn't a terrible thing, but until he know what he really wants, he will continue to chase those rabbits.

Deepak Chopra put it nicely when he said "No solution can ever be found by running in three different directions.”

Do you want a new career? What do you love doing? That isn't necessarily what you enjoy as a hobby, but what makes you feel completed? I homebrew beer. For a few years, I actively considered creating my own brewpub (brewery and restaurant) because I make really good beer, I am a good chef, and I love servin people my food and beer. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized that while I love brewing and cooking for myself, my family and my friends, doing it every day, on a demanding schedule would not make me happy. Look into classes at your local community college. Maybe you can test your resolve by taking a class in accounting (if you want to become an accountant) or welding (if that is your plan.)

Side note: here in Northeastern Wisconsin, we can't seem to find enough skilled welders. The college that I teach offers welding programs that are always filled. A good job, if you like that type of work, might be waiting for you in Wisconsin.

Do you want to start a podcast, blog or write a book? Well, guess what? Those don't magically appear. They all involve writing and a significant committment of time and energy. And they all take consistent effort. That is similar to students who buy a textbook but rarely--or never--open it, and then wonder why their test scores are low.

Find a resource, sit down and take action. To learn how to podcast, go to Meron Bareket's Podcast Starter Kit. Starting a blog is easy when you follow Leslie Samuel's "Become a Blogger" plan. Jeff Goins is an awesome author and his blog "Goins, Writer" helps new authors get their start.

So, you have a plan and you took your first steps. Are you having any success? You need to always evaluate your progress. Maybe not daily, but weekly or monthly is a good timeline for assessment. Sit down at the same time each week, and look at your metrics. How many pounds did you lose? How many days did you eat within your budget? How many words per day did you write, or how many interviews did you record and edit? Is that answer what you need to reach your goal? If yes, stick with it. If not, consider small changes to maximize your chances of success. Maybe find a mentor, face to face or vitual to help provide accountability. That is what I do for my weight management clients.

When should you do this?

Right now. What will be accomplished by waiting? Even if you say that you need to wait until tomorrow for that flight to Tibet, you can still take action today to prepare for it. Act now. It is the only time that you now you will have.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

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Note: the links to LoseIt, Fitbit and the Podcast Starter Kit are my affiliate links. (Other links are simply excellent resources.) That means if you click on those and buy one (or all) I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today. That is the only firm of payment I have here, or in the podcast. I tell you about tools that worked for, and if you belief they can help you, your purchase keeps my work going. And for that, I thank you!

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Find Your Own Voice!


You can go your own way and be your own person. Or you can be one of the sheep. The choice is always yours.

Don't get me wrong, I love sheep. Seeing a large flock of walking puffs of clouds over a rolling green hill is relaxing. They are cute (well, at the petting zoo for my kids, they were cute.) They make wool. I love a nice wool suit. And delicious meat (roast leg of lamb is incredible.) And they produces milk for cheese. They are...well, they are animals that graze and exist until we need some part of them.

They are a commodity. An object used to create something else for sale. And just about any single sheep can be replaced with any other sheep. They may have different personalities, but they are interchangable in their role within the drove.

That is a lot like people, in a way. People like to think they are irreplaceable in the job. But they aren't (and deep down, I think we all know it.) We are needed only because we can push the right button, or throw a football nicely, or sing a song beautifully, but in reality, many people can push that same button, throw a football, and sing that same song. In the workforce, people are commodities.

We are all just a very large, very fast-moving flock of people. Everything we do is a blur. Everything runs together, like a watercolor painting left out in the rain. We are all interchangeable. Oh, it may take some retraining to pull one person out and put a new person in their place, but that is the same as when you introduce a new sheep to the pasture. There are 7 billion people on the planet.


Or maybe there is just one person, but with seven billion different faces.

This is not what I normally write about, is it? Sort of grim. But wait, this is only half the story.

See, as a nurse, I am replaceable. Just about any nurse can be taught the skills needed on the job. As an instructor at my local community college, I am a little less replaceable, but only because there are less nurses with the right education credentials. But those can be earned.

So where am I going with this?

There is one way I am irreplaceable. Only one position that only I can fill. One area where I am not a commodity.

As a person, I am the only ME there is. So I need to make the most of it. While many people can do what I do, I am the only person who does it exactly I as do it. I am the only person with exactly my background and history. In all of the world, there is likely only one nurse who is:
  • male
  • weight loss coach
  • bartender (6 places)
  • chef (2 places)
  • a television guest chef
  • fast food restaurant manager
  • security guard, 
  • courier
  • dairy bottling plant shipping manager
  • direct salesman (4 companies)
  • telemarketer
  • carpet cleaner
  • grocery store clerk
  • car wash attendant 
  • day care custodian/substitute teacher
  • home brewer
  • certified beer judge
  • who is also a podcaster, blogger, and YouTuber.
I think I can say I AM unique.

That is what makes me separate from the herd. I am a herd of one (to borrow from a US Army slogan.) I use all those experiences to make me a better person at everything.

That does not mean I am an expert at everything. Heck, I'm not an expert at anything. I am gaining new skills every day. I will admit to making mistakes repeatedly, although I try to not make the same mistake twice.

This realization did not happen overnight. I'm 51 years old and it's only been in the past couple years that I have started to believe this. As an instructor at the college, it took more than five years to find my voice. There is working "outside your comfort zone" and "learning the lay of the land." I started teaching in January 2009, and it was not until this semester that I finally decided to remove parts of my mask and show the real me. Just yesterday, a colleague commented on how much more engaged I am, and my only response was I finally feel as though my real voice is taken as valid.

But the point is that I am finally being myself!

Stepping out, seizing your own space, using your own voice, those are all methods of being your own authentic self. And all of those can be intimidating. But until you take those steps, you are just another blurred face in the crowd.

If you don't use your own voice, if you don't act the way you truly feel, you are not loyal to yourself. You will change as the powers around you change. You will be a flag in a hurricane, whipping violently in one direction until the hurricane passes and then you will whip violently in the opposite direction.

In doing so, you lose yourself.

“If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything.”
Claude McKay, Jamaican-American writer and poet (1889 – 1948)

I'll leave you with a few questions. Please feel free to answer them in the comments.

Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you want?

What do you bring that no one else can? Do you use it, every day?

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In researching this essay, I knew that a collection of sheep was a "herd", but was not sure about any other terms. According to the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center a collection of sheep can be called a "flock, herd or drove." I knew that elephants were a herd. Do you know the name for a group of apes? Badgers? Martens? Eagles? Starlings? Toads? Trout? Jellyfish?

(That is the sort of thing that interests us nurses who are guys that have experienced that list of careers above.)
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Unsplash License:  "All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission."