Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Weight Loss Programs Make You Eat More

The problem with weight loss programs is they all concentrate, one way or another, on cutting your calories to the bone. In the process they all make you hungrier.

And none of them teach you how to keep the weight off. They tell you to count points. Or jump through magic hoops. Or have you buy their special weight loss meals – that is their preferred option, because that is how they stay in business. Their "special" meals = $360/month.

If you can afford that, and can put up with the inevitable monotony, then go ahead. But, in the end, you will still be just as hungry.

In fact, given the enzymes and hormones their form of weight loss evokes, count on you always having the munchies. And no amount of will power is going to overcome it.

Sooner or later, you will begin to eat based on your old style eating habits. And soon the extra pounds reappear, plus some new ones come along for the ride.

In the long run, do weight loss programs really make your day lighter?

Ideas to eat less – to live life more.

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com – Satisfy Your Hunger
©2010 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don' Be a Fast Learner in Weight Loss

Sometimes when faced squarely with a problem you want to solve, you jump right into researching it and learn all you can. You're like a sponge. After a few long sessions with Google, you're googled out.

A few days later you remember the key points you think you've gleaned. But like most people, you can only hold so much new information in your brain at a time. It's sort of like a small scratch pad with just a few pages.

Actually, most of what you learned, or could have learned is rapidly forgotten or glossed over.

The key to learning fast is to learn slow. Learn in short bursts of energy. Then wait a few days. Not only will you remember more, and understand more, something magical happens.

When you go to sleep, when you "sleep on it," all that "new" information mixes with all your "old" information. And that's the secret to really learning. When new mixes with old, new connections occur. New ideas spring up. Contradictions between old and new appear. Insights occur.

Then, the next time you jump into learning even more "new" stuff, you have a different point of view to discover and understand the newest "new" things. Your next bout of research will go in different directions.

Most importantly, you comprehend the new information and YOU CAN MAKE BETTER USE OF IT.

And that is the secret to making a new lifestyle change stick.

Do you want to make your new lifestyle stick? Be a slow learner.

In the long run, would learning slower really make your day lighter?

Ideas to eat less – to live life more.

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com – Satisfy Your Hunger
©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Be Worthy of Who You Are and Lose Weight

For you to permanently control your appetite, to be able to lose weight and keep it off, begin with an inner journey. That journey is to prepare yourself for the challenges of changing your lifestyle.

You already know that losing weight is not just a dietary problem. But why do you keep getting stuck? Why do so many of your efforts backfire, when they seem to work for others (at least they do in the ads)? What keeps happening that makes your weight loss efforts so difficult?

Here are some things you might want to think about.

1. Do you feel you have the POWER to handle life’s personal difficulties — to overcome the obstacles to permanent weight loss — to change what you are doing that led you to this place?

If you already feel powerless to change important things in your personal life, things you ardently feel need to be changed, you are drained of the energy, the confidence, the initiative to take the steps to make new weight loss efforts.

Even if you feel confident in some areas of your life, it is often difficult to have that confidence when it comes to your own self. So, here is a question: Aren't there things you would absolutely do to protect your kids? Let nothing stand in your way? But when it comes to doing things for yourself, deeply personal things, do you sometimes falter?

Start by believing you are worthy of having a different life, a better life. Not just that you want it, but that you deserve it. Beginning there, gather the power, the fierce strength you use to protect your children, to change yourself. And insist that others let you make that happen. That is the level of energy you must muster for yourself.

If you have spent a lifetime doing things for others, sacrificing your personal desires and needs year after year for your family, this may be very unfamiliar territory. It is difficult to turn all that energy you have focused on others for so long, and tell yourself you deserve to have it now focused on yourself.

But you must. Once you do, reach deep inside yourself and find the power to make it happen. That power is there. It always has been. It is what has made so much meaningful for your family and closest friends. You have the power. Use it for yourself.

2. Do you feel COMPETENT enough to make the right lifestyle changes, the right way, at the right time — do you believe you have the ability to do better and really make it happen?

If you've tried to lose weight several times before, and in the end you gained it all back each time (plus some), it is easy to lose confidence in your ability to discriminate in selecting what to do.

It is easy getting lost in the plethora of advice, and the constant stream of new and contradictory information in the media – TV, magazines, newspaper. Plus there is all that stuff you learned from mom, with friends and family eager to offer their opinions.

Sometimes, it just seems that you are swimming in so much information that its difficult to keep up. Let alone do anything different that is meaningful.

Then there are those nagging doubts... is this the right thing? Is this really going to make a difference? How do you know? How can you sort it all out?

Plus the biggest challenge of them all – when do you get the time, the alone, quiet time, to think it all out?

So, even when you get into change mode, you can lack confidence in your competence to do something effective.

3. Are you LIKABLE & WORTHY of this change? If you are not likable, if you are not worthy of this change in your lifestyle, you can never be happy. Why?

Happiness is founded on acceptance of yourself — you need self-acceptance to be happy. So, if you’re not going to be happy anyway, because you are not likable or worthy of it, what’s the point of making positive lifestyle changes designed to make you happy?

Your lifestyle changes may be well and good, but if you are still not likable or worthy, what’s the point of the effort, the inevitable pain, your changes will cause?

Besides, if you’re not worthy of it, you probably don’t deserve success, or happiness, or fulfillment – or to weigh less permanently — you don’t deserve the things you really want.

These three things significantly affect:
–Your ability to identify what you really want to do, that would truly make you happy.
–Your belief about whether or not you can change things, or can change them in a positive way, and
–Your motivation in making changes — is it going to be worth it?

If you are going to change your lifestyle, if you are really going to weigh less permanently, you have to look past the "diet" you are considering. You have to do some interior work – go on an inner journey. You have to decide, ultimately, if you are worth it.

Once you get that far, you will find a way to make it happen.

How do you control your appetite?
Conclusion: Be worthy of It

My Associations & Chicklets at the End of Each Post
VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2010 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Omega-3 and Omega-6 and Your Weight Loss Goals

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential in maintaining healthier body and mind. Of great importance is a proper balance between these two omegas in our diet. Both play a crucial role in healthy brain function and normal growth and development.

As these fatty acids cannot be found in the body naturally, they must be introduced to the body through our food sources.

Medical research and clinical studies show Omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation in the body and helps prevent many chronic diseases such as heart disease, strokes, circulation problems, skin disorders, gout, ADHD, allergies, depression, and many forms of arthritis.

The most concentrated levels of Omega-3 are found in the brain and are thought to be an important part of human cognitive and behavioral development. For that same reason, it is essential that pregnant women maintain healthy levels of Omega-3 in order to prevent nerve and vision problems in their developing child.

What are the most common foods with Omega-3 fatty acids?

• Fish (go for Wild, not Farmed, fish sources to avoid mercury and other heavy metal conteminants) – Wild Salmon, Wild Trout, Wild Tuna, Wild Mackerel, Wild Flounder & many other
• Spinach
• Seabuckthorn berries
• Acai palm fruit
• English walnuts
• Wheat/Oat germ
• Some Omega-3 fortified products like Celebrate Chocolate Truffles (2 truffles = 56mg (35%) of the Daily Value for DHA
• Avocado

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2010 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Lost on the Road to Permanent Weight Loss?

When you are full, but you decide to eat one more fork full... you think, "how can that hurt?" Right?

When you are full and you decide that one more serving won't matter that much, you can always work it off later...

When you are full, and you have eaten more than you should, so you vow to not eat so much tomorrow to make up for it...

...When these thoughts automatically pop into your head you have a persistent weight problem.

It is not the food you put into your mouth that causes weight loss problems. It is the excuses you feed into your brain.

You look for justification to eat the way you do -- excuses you feed yourself, excuses you feed to others.

You could be looking for the opposite -- you could be finding reasons to turn away that extra fork of food. You could be firm and deny yourself that extra serving. You could really monitor yourself and not overeat.

But you don't. You remain overweight because you feed yourself a steady diet of excuses.

So, you have a choice, should you eat like you want and have excuses ready? Or should you lose weight and keep it off permanently? That is the stark reality you face to achieve permanent weight loss.

Food excuses are the daily diet that feeds you all day long.
They guide your day in the same way that you have a map in your head to get around the city. So, when that internal food-voice goes silent, you get lost. You don't know what to do. You don't know which way to turn, where to stop, where to go full speed ahead.

What are you supposed to tell yourself when there is silence in your mind? Do you know what to replace the excuses with? This is when it is crucial to know how to lose weight healthily.

Because if you are going to lose weight, and stop making excuses to yourself, you have to replace the excuses with weight loss ideas that work. Ideas that, when put into action, create the permanent weight loss you seek.

When you don't have accurate, science-based information about successful weight loss, you will lose less weight than you should. And you'll gain back the weight that you did lose, plus some.

Once you regain the weight you lost, you'll get discouraged, blame your weight regain on your shortcomings and failings. And because your weight loss efforts didn't work, you'll abandon them, and you'll go back to telling yourselves lies about why it is OK to eat more than you should,

But at least, you'll not be lost -- the internal food-voice will be back. You'll still have the long list of excuses to start using again. And you'll be firmly back on the road to weight gain.

Comforting. Right?

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Smokers. Overweight Individuals. Twins.

"I am so ashamed that I smoke."

I received those words the other day from an avid reader and close friend in Canada.

I have also heard that same phrase from a thousand readers who say they are ashamed they are excessively overweight.

Let's tackle the two related ideas that flow from those conversations.

Smoking is an addiction.

We all know that smoking is an addiction. We accept that. We know that there is a substance in tobacco that hooks smokers, and makes it very difficult to get unhooked.

So, while we may not enjoy being around people while they are smoking, we give them a certain "pass" because we know they are addicted. We usually don't think of smokers as having a character defect.

Smokers get a "will=power" pass. We know that smokers can delay smoking for only so long. Then the urge to light up is overwhelming, and they have to give in and smoke. No one has to tell us that. We just know smokers are a special case – they are addicted.

Being overweight, however, is too often viewed as a character defect. Most people think overweight people choose to overeat. The thinking goes that if they would just push themselves back from the table, or eat differently, they would not be overweight. Sadly, men especially believe this way, about women, and about themselves.

In fact, I belong to a LinkedIn group of weight loss professionals that just had that discussion. They all agreed that overweight people lack self-discipline – (mostly only men commenting, I might add).

But what about overweight people? Don't most people just assume they willingly over-eat? Don't most people blame excess weight on some kind of character defect in the overweight person? There is even a very old and well-recognized group called Overeaters Anonymous that was founded on the premise that you can "just say no" to over-eating.

The biggest problem with this "lack-of-self-discipline" thinking is that many, perhaps most, overweight people believe it. They have bought into the myth that being overweight is simply a problem of lacking self-restraint.

It is a false premise. And a damaging one.

Overeating is an addiction.

Eating too much, or eating the wrong foods, is the result of chemicals acting on your body in exactly the same way that smoking does. It is an addiction. Some of the same body chemicals are involved. Said another way, overeating is an addiction in the same way that smoking is an addiction. It's being hooked on a chemical – a chemical dependency that is extremely difficult to overcome.

Because of the chemical dependency, you can't just delay eating any more than smokers can delay smoking, and expect the urge to go away. It doesn't. The longer you delay eating to fight the urge, the larger your appetite becomes. Sooner or later you will have to given-in, and when you do, you will over eat much more than if you hadn't delayed eating in the first place.

So, if you want to understand why you are excessively overweight, you have to start there. You have to understand it is a problem of chemical dependency – it most certainly is not a problem with your character. And if you don't start there, you will end up in the wrong place. You will regain lost weight every time you try to lose weight.

The path out of addiction.

Which brings me back to my smoker friend. The route out of smoking addiction begins with a commitment to self. It starts with an overwhelming reason to want to quit. Absent that, every route to permanent smoking cessation will be stymied. The withdrawal from an addictive substance sucks out your will-power. It destroys your good intent. It makes a mockery of your self-control.

Overcoming smoking addiction has to begin with getting very clear about your reasons to quit. It is all about finding not one, but many very strong reasons to quit – then understanding them deeply. It is about visualizing very vividly how your life would be different by not smoking.

The research shows that there are only two kinds of reasons that work as sufficient motivators to break free of addiction. Both are deeply personal:

(1) How do you view yourself, and and how you feel about your self-worth. And...
(2) How you think your present actions, and your future success in changing them, will affect significant others in your life

If you can't find enough personal reasons to quit smoking, if they are not deep and personal enough, you will TRY to quit. With the destructive force of chemical dependency working against you, TRYING to quit is the prescription for failure. You cannot try. You can only do. Or not do. (Thanks to Master Yoda for that clear distinction.)

Kicking the addiction that leads to excess weight.

Successfully losing significant excess weight is precisely the same process. In fact, all the best research shows that the emotional and psychological path to losing a lot of weight, and keeping it off, is precisely the same as for kicking smoking addiction.

You have to have a reason beyond pounds to lose weight permanently. You have to have a reason beyond health to take the weight off.

Overcoming smoking and overcoming bad eating patterns begin in finding increasingly strong reasons to do them.

Overcoming these twin addictions is about increasing your sense of self-worth – and about openly understanding your impact on others – both when you are not successful in achieving your goals, and when you are.

Yet these actions alone do not always equal success. You MUST take into account that you are battling a chemical dependency. You CANNOT fight chemical withdrawal by will power along. You need help, and helping relationships.

You need accurate information about what you are up against. Most of all, once that is all "on board" your mind, and firmly secured for the stormy passage ahead, you need a science-based strategy that can deliver you to success.

All the will-power in the universe cannot get you past chemical dependency by itself.

We all know that about people who need to quit smoking. We know they need help overcoming chemical dependency. We accept it is not that they just lack character.

You need to know – you need to accept – that losing excessive weight and keeping it off permanently is exactly the same as smoking cessation.

You need to overcome chemical dependency, and for that you need help, and helping relationships. Quit blaming your lack of will power for your repeated failures at keeping the pounds off. Quit thinking you have some special kind of character defect.

You may have been overweight for a long time, but there is nothing wrong with you that accurate information and a correct "overcoming chemical dependency" strategy won't cure.

Smokers. Excessively overweight individuals. They are twins.

There is nothing to be ashamed of in being either. You are hooked on a chemical dependency. You are in the process of overcoming that dependency. You are to be applauded for that effort – you need to give yourself credit for doing something about it, instead of wrapping yourself in self-described shame.

Self-shame, in fact, lowers your self-esteem, giving yourself reason to fail yet again.

Get past shame, and get on to your success.

Once you start thinking about being overweight is like being a smoker, you are on the path to permanent weight loss success. Isn't that what you want?

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lose the Weight Loss Battle. The Top 5 Reasons.

If you have battling your weight for years, it's time to give up on it. Surrender. End the war. Let peace begin.

You see, that really is the key to permanent weight loss... ending the battle.

When you are constantly at war, when there is no peace, you get lost in the battle, and lose your ability to raise up your head and see the far horizon. And when you can't see far enough ahead, into your own future, you get lost where you already are.

Weight loss efforts are too often spoken about using the language of war, the soundings of endless battles, the din of combat.

That is where the language gets you sucked-in to the wrong analogies. And you start believing the words, and not see there is a different way. You get locked into the language mentally and start acting as if the weight loss war is real.

You start thinking in terms of winning and losing battles.
You start relating to "being in the trenches". The incessant drum of the words of war assault your sense of peace, and you find none. No peace, at least not on this front (see, even "this front" is a term borrowed from wars).

When you are at war you gather 'round you the weapons of war, the accoutrements of battle, and equip yourself for the struggles ahead. You prepare yourself daily to fight, and perhaps lose skirmishes and big battles for your weight. You never leave it behind, whether at home, at work, at restaurants, at parties, or at a friend's house. You are vigilant to make make sure you are not surprised by having to eat something you know you shouldn't.

With all that clang and bang and confusion of battle rattling inside your head, you lose the ability to hear yourself. You no longer have the ability to filter out what is true and right for your body. That is where your struggles get you lost, without you understanding the best solutions for yourself.

You look to the battlefield ahead to see what can help you lose weight better, this time. You go from the "new breakthrough this" to the "old familiar that," to your friends' suggestions, to your wondering if the late night infomercials really do have something for you. Or perhaps that sexy woman online from the TV fat loss contest really does have something that works.

How can you sort all that junk out and make sense of it, if you can't hear yourself? If you can't hear yourself well, you lose your trust in your judgement, because so may things you once thought were good for your weight loss, all turn out to be worthless.

War. Battle. Weapons. Winning. Losing. Struggles.
Whew! No wonder you are tired when you wake up. Almost as tired as when you went to sleep. And you are certainly no further ahead in your ability to lose weight and keep it off permanently.

It's time to lay down the weapons of war. It is time to lose the battle.
Time to stop the insanity of pursuing the same things over and over, and never getting a better result.

Take off the instruments of fighting. Drop your weapons, and come home. Come home to you. Where you are safe and it is quiet. And peace reigns.

In a place of quiet you can hear yourself. It may be a bit unfamiliar at first, but your voice is in there. Just let your inner voice bubble to the surface. Then listen. Listen to your heart beating. It's beating right now. Listen... ... ...

Hear it? That amazing sound is your heart beating, amidst amazing silence. Peace.

You have to begin in peace if you want to be in touch with what your body is saying about your weight loss efforts. In your place of peace, you can really hear the difference between truth and bs. When you really want to energize your weight loss efforts, peace is the only way you will ever be able to know the difference between what will work for you, and what will not.

You have an amazing body. It knows a lot.
Your body knows when you feed it garbage. It knows how to make you feel great when you eat healthy regularly. You just have to listen to it.

But, after years in the trenches, at war, struggling, fighting, winning, and ultimately losing the weight loss battle, you get disconnected from your body. It's difficult to know when you are really hungry, or if something else is going on. It is difficult also to know how to deal with the cravings, and what to do to get rid of them. It is especially difficult to know when you are full, and understand why you can't put down the fork, even though you know you don't really need more food.

The war with your weight leaves scars that run deep.
Every combat veteran will tell you that the biggest, most frightening scars are the ones unseen by others – unsuspected by others – often unknown by you for many years – your very personal form of weight-loss-delayed-stress-syndrome. Like most war veterans, you won't admit it, or don't see it. Nevertheless it is real. And you will only be able to deal with it by leaving the war behind. Permanently. And know it is permanently behind you.

To a veteran, war fades slowly from memory. Your quick reflex actions of defense and aggression from the war zone are automatic for a long time. They preserved you in battle, but in a place of true peace, they are out of place, not needed, and almost always the wrong thing to do to control your weight, and make it drop permanently.

Are you a weight loss veteran, you may ask? Seem like an extreme analogy? Over-wrought?

No. Absolutely not. That may be difficult to see when you are still in the war zone. But after you have been out for a while, you will see just how difficult all those war years really were. Plus the toll it took on you emotionally as well as physically.

So, at this point of time you just need to step back, see the weight-war that is being waged around you – within you. And accept that it is time to lose the weight loss battle. That is your path to VICTORY.

The Top 5 Reasons You WILL Have Weight Loss Victory

• Dieting is the #1 reason for long term weight gain – the more you diet, the more you will gain, long-term
• Dieting disconnects you from your normal feelings of hunger, and fullness
• Dieting is the #1 cause of eating disorders
• Dieting makes you feel deprived, which increases your chance of binging
• Dieting causes your body to retain fat, and lose muscle mass

• It will relieve your stress
• You will burn excess calories and body fat
• It will make your body build muscle, which helps you burn more fat
• It will combat osteoporosis

• You will stop believing all the hype about the latest popular weight loss programs
• You will stop looking at short term weight loss as a valid criterium for evaluating weight loss programs
• You will begin researching the world of science-based, permanent weight loss

• You will engage with supportive friends, and de-stress twice a day
• You will get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, and make it a priority


Lose the weight loss war. Find peace. Achieve victory. And finally believe you will succeed at permanent weight loss.

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Dare to Dream -- about Real Weight Loss Now

Permanent-Weight-Loss(This article is about an amazing "thought experiment" -- to consider what it would take, what it would be like to lose ALL your excess weight. My thanks to Emily for suggesting it. LG)

It is difficult to get to know who you are.

It is easier to know who you have been (at least until an old acquaintance finds you on Facebook and tells a very different story of who you used to be).

But the real difficulty is in knowing who you really want to be in five years, or ten. Or twenty.

Yet that thought about your future is really not a useless or fanciful excursion. That act it is a key to your ability, your willingness, the depth of your passion, to lose weight now.

It begins with who you are when you are alone. It ends with a commitment to crafting the future you ardently desire. In between, well, that is the gray area, the amorphous "I am just being who I already am."

Do you dare think how different your life would be if you lost ALL your excess weight?

If you have been 25, 50, 100 pounds or more overweight for a very long time, if is difficult for you to imagine weighing much less than you do now. You probably even have a weight loss goal defined by how much you weighed just a couple of years ago, not when you were 18 or 22.

But seldom do you even dare think you could ever get back to where you started, what you weighed before the serious pounds started accumulating.

Why not?

Why not dare to dream the unthinkable? Why do you not allow yourself the freedom of imagination to project yourself into the future weighing what you know you should, instead of what you are willing to settle for?

Sit back for a long moment and linger. How would your life be different if you weighed the correct weight for your height? How would your primary relationships be different? How would your friendships be affected? What would you do differently? How would you be different? How would you feel about your life?

You see, your ability to lose most of the excess weight you have had for many, many years is directly tied to your willingness to see how your life would inevitably be different. If you can't imagine that hoped-for world, you, of course, can never get there.

If you do not find the prospect of weighing the right weight an exciting possibility, an enticing opportunity to re-invigorate your life, you will lag in your motivation to get there.

Permanent weight loss is more about what you feed your heart and imagination, than what you feed your body.

And that has to begin with you knowing not only who you are, but how you want to live out the remainder of your life.

If you are content with losing 10 or 20 pounds, it will help your health -- every pound you lose does.

But that amount of weight loss is not going to change your life. When you achieve significant weight loss, 40-50-75 pounds or more, many things WILL change in your life, whether you want it to or not. And it will change a lot more than just your wardrobe.

When you learn to grasp that change in reality, and begin to shape it, begin to mould it around all that you have wanted to do and be, and be seen as, then you will begin to take control of your weight. The more you shape your dream of the future, the more you will reshape your body today.

These are connected wholes -- who you are, and who you strongly desire to be. Both are real. You need to shape your future more clearly, more carefully, less haphazardly. You need to accept ONLY that you can achieve what you greatly desire, what you fervently deserve.

Weight loss success is not about money, nor those who love you...

Nor is permanent weight loss even about those who don't love you the way you wish, or need them to. It is not about finding the perfect time, or way, or program to do it. It is about accepting the imperfect you, who nonetheless, is doing something more very day to get your weight where you know it can be, where you really want it to be.

This type of life is not about shaving calories from your meals, nor fat grams from your food choices, nor worrying if you should have cheated on yesterday's food exchange points.

This type of life is measured in the real steps you take every day to grasp your desired future by the reins and lead yourself, step-by-joyful step.

It is not about sacrifice, nor giving up, nor turning away from old enjoyments.

It is all about building a new reality around the beautiful core that is you. It is about what you are gaining in your quest, not what you are giving up to achieve it.

Dare to dream the unthinkable dream. Make it real and alive and vibrant in your mind. Let it become your living reality. And leave the tired and older and overweight you far behind. Not because it was bad, but because your future is so much better.

Dare to dream.

You have one life to live in this body. Where will it take you the rest of your days?

The decision is up to you.

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weight Loss Motivation? Where is My Instruction Manual?

Emotional-Weight-LossIt is easy to lose your way on the road to permanent weight loss. Very easy to get stuck. When you want to lose much more than 25 pounds, it is a process that takes months, not weeks. As the weeks wear by, as the days droll on, it can be dreary, monotonous, annoying. And lonely. A journey not shared with others.

No matter how many pounds you lose there is always this fear that you will slip, and gain most of it back.

Of course there are those moments of joy when you reach one of your interim goals. Certainly there are rewards when others tell you that you're looking slimmer.

But in the alone minutes, in the times when so much is happening and you have to eat on the run, or over a pile of paperwork, it's tough to know what you are really doing – are you doing the right things? It's also easy to find a ton of excuses why this meal, this snack, this day, this week, etc., you have a very good reason not to eat like you know you should.

Permanent weight loss is more about what you feed your brain, than what you feed your body.

Permanent weight loss is more about your belief in your ability to do it, than it is in which program you use to do it.

Permanent weight loss is about learning to connect the dots between what you do each moment, and what happens to your body a year from now.

Permanent weight loss is about commitment to a principle and never backing down. It is about accepting that you don't do everything correctly, and don't do it every time – but you are doing it.

Permanent weight loss is visualizing your body the way it should be, then letting nothing, (including you momentarily falling off the path), stand in your way.

Permanent weight loss is relentless devotion to your ideal body – emblazoned – seared, into your conscious thought – you will NOT be denied.

Permanent weight loss is – or it is not.

There are no half measures on the road to permanence.

So how do you get there? How do you increase your motivation to make all that happen?

How do you achieve the never-fatigued inner resolve to let nothing stand in your way?

How do you get that day-to-day, moment-to-moment motivation drilled into you, pounded into you, convincingly persuaded into you, until you achieve your lifelong goal?

In other words...

...Where is the instruction manual to your weight loss motivation?

The short answer is...

There isn't any. At least none that any other person can tell you, or give to you.

The difficulty with weight loss motivation lies in its inherent contradiction:
a. You can only find the answer to the riddle of your motivational challenge within yourself
b. But you don't really trust yourself to stay motivated

What you don't realize is that your motivation is something that boils up from inside of you. It is not something imposed on you from the outside. It can't be. Besides, it is already there. Dormant. You just need to get all your blockage out of the way, to let your inner motivation escape into the open, then guide your daily actions.

Beset with a record of past weight loss failures, you doubt that is going to happen anytime soon. So you reach instinctively for someone else's opinion. A friend. An expert. A person who has successfully done it. Maybe even Oprah.

What you desperately want is a checklist. A crutch. A guide. A great video series. An inspirational book. A carefully structured way to "find" your everlasting motivation.

An outside guide to weight loss motivation that works, doesn't exist.

None of them. Never has. Never will. And those who tell you otherwise have something to sell you -- perhaps some modern-day snake oil. Or a large swamp outside of Las Vegas that just needs to be drained before you can build a billion dollar hotel on it.

Not that checklists and structured paths (those done with sensitivity and professional skill) can't take you a way down the path of lifting your motivation. A few can. The trouble is, they just can't get you to go all the way to your success. Because that can only come from deep inside you, and no one can tell you how to do that.

So, when these guru's get you part way there, and you ultimately fail, you blame it on yourself. Then you lose even more precious confidence in yourself -- and you had none to spare in the first place.

Reflect and find your way to weight loss motivation success.

Sustaining weight loss motivation, especially if you weigh 50 pounds or more than you should, is exceptionally difficult to maintain month after month using anyone's system. In part, that is because in the really tough moments that always happen, when the pressures can really get to you, you come to realize the "system" you have been relying on is NOT YOU TALKING TO YOU. And that gives you the perfect excuse to reject it. Once rejected, you can never again rely on it. It has been discredited. Then you are back to square one: impaired motivation, with nothing to replace it.

That is why you must find your own way to weight loss motivation.

The purpose of my book "How to Curb Your Appetite – And Stop Your Cravings" is to give you 36 different views of how others have done it successfully. None of them are your path. Nor were they intended to be. Their purpose is for you to seek some alone time to read them. Then reflect. Come back several days later, re-read a chapter, and think about it again.

Personal reflection, repeated often, is a re-building process. No single idea (or chapter) will get you far. No single idea is going to jump out of the page and smack you alongside your head, and have you say, "Eureka, now I've got it!"

As I look back at the faces and remember the stories of those who have been through the process you are going through now, every one of them will tell you that at some point they wanted to just shake me and say, "Laura, just tell me what to do, and I'll do it."

And, in the end, each one of them who made it through successfully now tell me, "Thank you Laura for not "giving" me answers. Thank you for making me think more carefully about myself. Thank you for having the patience to allow me to keep experimenting until I found my own unique way to stay motivated every day. Thank you that I now can trust myself, and know that I am the author of my own success."

Unknowingly, they were not thanking me. They were really just thanking themselves. They did all the interior work and deserve the full credit for their success.

There is NO roadmap to your weight loss motivational success.

Your success is who you already are. You need no map to take you somewhere. There is nowhere to go. Everything you need, everything you require, you already have. You just need to accept that. Then live it.

Reflect and learn one piece of your inner truth at a time. Each piece will build the mosaic of your future, your lifelong, your permanent, weight loss success.

If you want weight loss success, consider what you may not have considered, this way, before

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, September 7, 2009

5 Minutes. 4 Doughnuts. 3 days of dieting down the toilet. 2 late to change it. And you can't rewind.

It's not the big binges that get in the way. It's the little ones. The ones that creep up on you unawares.

Your body needs energy, first of all. It needs nutrition, second. When you don't feed your body energy, it produces uncontrollable hunger. When you don't feed it nutrition, your cravings speak loud and long. They will be satisfied.

This is the world of the dieter, driven between faminous hunger, and persistent cravings.

The time to stop these diet destroyers is BEFORE they happen, before they creep up on you and without warning take remote control of your body until you feed it what it is desperate for.

When are you going to get the message – the one your body has been consistently telling you every time you diet?

Never starve your body. Always feed it the quality nutrition it demands. And you will neither have mini nor maxi binges. You will have peace in your food wars, You will lose weight naturally.

So, why do you insist on dieting? Why do you think that short term starvation is a ticket to anything but delayed weight gain?

There are foods that feed you nutrition. There are food combinations that will help you lose weight. So, why do the opposite? Why be starved of nutrition? Why insist on eating food combinations that nature designed to make you add on weight?

In this case ignorance is neither bliss, nor defensible. Take control of the life energy that fuels your body. Learn to eat right. Then do it.

When you know there is a weight loss technology out there based on the science of your body, why do you ignore it?

When you know Nature crafted your body to eat directly from its fields, its trees, its forests, oceans, rivers and lakes, then why do you insist on eating food out of boxes, and think that something served through a car window is anything but poisonous to your every cell?

If you are not going to feed your body correctly, who is going to do it for you?

If you are not going to do it now, when are you going to start doing it? There are no cows to come home any more, but is that roughly your timetable?

If all it takes is 5 minutes to down 4 doughnuts, maybe you shouldn't have been on a diet for 3 days. Or any days for that matter.

Eat whole foods from Nature's bounty. Your weight will do what it's supposed to do.

No one is going to make a whole lot of money off of you for diet foods, but, hey, it's time for someone else to sacrifice.

It's time for you to be at a healthy weight. Do it now while it is still fresh on your mind.

Are you ready? Can your hear that "moo" coming your direction?

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Best Weight Loss Method for Holiday Overeating...

Here is the best weight loss method for holiday overeating...

Everyone sort of goes off-diet during a holiday weekend, especially the 3-4 day long weekend type of holidays that pop-up too infrequently on the calendar.

Even when you are not on a "diet" diet, but just trying to eat sensibly, holidays are a huge invitation to allow a lot of off-menu foods onto your menu.

Do you know the #1 strategy used by most people to compensate for over-eating during the holidays?
-- Not eating breakfast, or skipping other meals in preparation for the holiday. Most people usually skip 2-3 meals during the holidays, or cut back on the appetizers. The idea is to "save" some calories now to make up for the extra ones you know you will be eating later.

-- Does it work? Nope. It just sets you up for binge eating later in the day, which adds a lot more calories to your body than the ones you "saved."

Want to know the #2 thing people do to handle the extra calories of the holidays?
-- Promising themselves they will skip some meals AFTER the holidays to make up for it.

--Does it work? Actually, these promises are almost always broken before they get started.

And the #3 thing people use to handle holiday culinary excesses:

-- Just eat whatever, and worry about it later.

-- Does it work? Can't really call this one a strategy, but a lot of people prefer it.

The only proven strategy to handle weight loss for holiday over-eating?
If you don't put it on you won't have to take it off.

OK, I know that was not what you were wanting or expecting. But, you know it is true.

Desiring, even planning to overeat, or eating the wrong foods during the holidays, is a great old cherished tradition. It is also one where a weekend can set back your weight loss goals for a month or more.

Let's say you were losing a healthy 2 pounds a week. If you are like most people, you'll gain 3-7 pounds over a 3-day weekend holiday.

Thus, you didn't get your 2 pounds of loss for the week, PLUS, you added 6 pounds. So, the total change in your weight is 2+6 = 8. You just set your weight loss back 8 pounds -- a month. Is 3 days of eating wrong really worth losing an entire month's worth of renewed weight loss efforts?

If you indulge in any form of the #1, #2, or #3 strategies for weight loss Or have your own special form of suspending sensibilities during a long holiday weekend, then you might want to consider a different approach...

Would you seriously consider changing your relationship to food?
Is overeating really a requirement to enjoy a great weekend?

Is eating the wrong foods worth the extra pain and renewed efforts it requires for true weight loss?

While holidays involve having fun with family and friends and having lots of new, luscious foods available, do you have to think in terms of "denial" when you see the vast buffet? Just because all that yummy food is calling out to you by name, and saying, "eat me, eat me, have an extra helping of me," doesn't mean you have to actually do it.

It is really possible to ignore all the loud voices clamoring for you to consume what you know you shouldn't.

Isn't it possible to take a small portion of each food you "really" want to try, and savor them in small quantities?

Isn't it possible think of the buffet spread as a chance to taste new and favorite foods, instead of an invitation to overeat?

You will feel great, and in control of your life, if at the end of the holiday weekend, you know you didn't gain anything. Or better yet, you lose 2 pounds. If you've never experienced that sense of weight loss victory, you're really missing something special. You will achieve a sense of personal satisfaction that can really rev up your weight loss motivation for weeks on end.

That result is the best win-win: Weight loss now, plus renewed weight loss motivation for the future. It is a real confidence builder. You really ought to try it.

Remember, the only proven strategy to handle weight loss for holiday over-eating?
If you don't put it on you won't have to take it off.

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Has Food Defined You?

Is food defining who you are?

Is food an obsession? Do you fear food? Absolutely love it?

Does food creep into your thoughts when you should be thinking of something else?

Do specific foods make you crave them? Does just thinking about certain food combinations make your mouth water?

Do you knowingly overeat today, telling yourself that you will fast tomorrow to make up for it?

Did you eat excessively this week, telling yourself you will start dieting next week?

Do you lie to yourself about what you will and won't do about food, and dieting? Or consider purging?

Do you worry about what others may think when they see you eating in public, and change your food choices because of it?

Is food obsession a large part of your day, starting with when you first wake up and barely ending when you fall asleep at night.

Do you grab a bite to eat late in the evening, sometimes just before bed, even though you know your body doesn't need it, and you really aren't hungry?

Are you being defined by food?

Let me know about how food has defined you, in one way or another.

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com
Curb Your Appetite – Stop Your Cravings

©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Eat with a Baby's Fork. Ideas to Eat Less – to Live More

Have you ever eaten with a baby's fork? Or spoon? I'm sure you've nibbled a bit on the journey to baby's mouth.
It can be fun to feed a high-chair bound kid a meal using those diminutive utensils.

But can a baby's fork help you lose weight?

Would you be willing to eat an entire meal with them? Try it. You'll discover something quite interesting. I've recommended this fun idea to a lot of people. They always come back with one of two reactions.

The first reaction is many quit using baby's plastic flatware rather quickly. They get frustrated with the slowness of shoveling the food in.

The second reaction is that those who stuck it out all reported eating less in the meal.

Your body is amazing. When you eat fast, your body just lets you do it. When you eat more slowly, your body has the time to react and send your brain a signal that tells you to eat less.

That is exactly the point. Eating more slowly curbs your appetite. When you do that regularly, you will lose weight steadily.

So, if you really want to eat less in every meal, use whatever strategy you can. But a simple one is to eat with a baby's fork or spoon.

Would eating with a baby's fork really make your day lighter?

(BTW, Celebrate Premium Chocolate Truffles were designed from scratch to curb your appetite and stop your cravings by taking advantage of this phenomenon – plus some other equally powerful ones. Just savor them 20 minutes before your meal. See the reviews. It really works.)

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com – Satisfy Your Hunger
©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don't Eat Like a Hummingbird. Ideas to Eat Less – to Live More

(Photo Courtesy: MDF/Wikipedia)

"She eats like a bird." How many times have you heard that said? And
what better model for that than the itsy, bitsy, tiny hummingbird.
"She is so tiny, I bet she eats like a hummingbird."

Maybe you ought to eat like a hummingbird to lose weight. Right?

Well, let's explode that myth.

Hummingbirds are tiny beautiful creatures. And they eat like a horse. Several horses, actually.

Tiny bodies. Tiny tongues. Tiny stomachs. You wouldn't expect them to have horrendous appetites. Yet, despite their small size, hummingbirds consume their body weight in food daily. Flapping their wings up to 90 times a second requires a lot of energy. On the build-up to their annual migration they can double their body weight in fat. Flying in excess of 30 mph, they have been known to fly over 500 miles non-stop migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.

So what do hummingbirds have to do with my weight loss problem?

Have you ever watched hummingbirds at a feeder? Birds, as in "several." They are intensely aggressive feeders. Never more than a few hours away from literally starving to death, they need their food in huge, never-ending quantities. Having found a good source of nectar they are not going to let another hummingbird consume the scarce commodity found in a feeder without a fight.

So they dive and attack, retreat and pursue each other. Every few minutes they return to the feeder to drive off a competitor, quickly get their beaks into the juice, then suck as fast as they can before they are interrupted by a rival. The contest over food goes on all day, and begins again at first light.

There is more than a little irony here. The red liquid food in the feeder is not scarce. It is virtually unlimited. Humans always refill it before it is empty. The same birds come to the same feeder every day, all day long, all Summer long. They even return to the same feeder after wintering in Mexico – they come back because they know there is no end to the food available to them.

However, hummingbirds don't trust their own experience. Their instincts, their genetic programming, tells them not to trust their daily, yearly experience of plentifulness. So they compete for food like there will be none left for them if other hummingbirds are allowed to eat even a tiny bit.

Do you eat like a hummingbird?
Trouble is, humans are more than a little like hummingbirds. It's less of a competition thing between people, and more of a scarcity reaction. We eat like there may not be enough food for us tomorrow. So, we consume tomorrow's calories today. Even some of the next day's calories.

Then, having eaten like we are getting ready to fly 500 miles non-stop to Mexico under our own power, we take a nap. Not to sleep it off, but to store it all up... never know when you might need to use up 6 months of fat stores, right?

The hummingbird gets away with having a voracious appetite because it is exercising like a self-made mini-hurricane the entire time it is hovering and eating. You could do the same. If you are going to eat like a hummingbird, exercise like a hummingbird. Alternatively, don't eat so much.

You don't have to starve yourself, nor should you. But if you have stored several days, or weeks, (or months) worth of food under your skin, then perhaps you know by now that:

(a) food for you is not likely to be scarce anytime soon, and

(b) you could safely eat less than you have been, with no ill effects

(c) you don't have to worry about your neighbor eating all the food in your cupboard, and

(d) you ought to "unpack" some of your fat reserves (since you're not going to be flying to Mexico any time soon – at least not under your own power)

Don't eat like a hummingbird
Like a hummingbird, you need to override your instinct to eat voraciously.

You also need to know that eating like you have been is a waste of money, a waste of good food, (and a consumption of non-sustainable packaging and transport). It is an indulgence that ends up settling around your waist. And sooner or later it is going to cause you life changing, even life-threatening health problems.

Hummingbirds have an excuse for eating the way they do. Hummingbirds also exercise vigorously to keep their "energy in:energy out" ratio in tight balance – have you ever seen a fat hummingbird?

What is your excuse for eating the way you do? What is your reason to not use exercise to keep your "energy in:energy out" ratio in tight balance?

In short: don't eat like a hummingbird unless you are going to exercise like a hummingbird.

So, are you ready to eat like a bird, a hummingbird?

Would not eating like a hummingbird really make your day lighter?

©2009-2012 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Express your sensual self: Rule 22 To Control Your Appetite

Your sensuality can lead to weight loss. A lot of weight loss.

Sometimes in the hurry of being a mom, a wife, a person with a job, (ditto for men) you forget that there was a time when you felt sensual. You wanted to feel sensual. Certain people made you feel sensual. You were sensual.

Let me be clear about what I mean when I'm talking about sensual: Of course there is a sexual component to sensuality, but that is not the core of what I am talking about here.

Sensuality is enjoying the pleasure of your senses. All of them. It is the acknowledgment that your body was designed – created – to feel multiple kinds of pleasure. Whether tasting or smelling, whether touching or seeing, whether hearing or combining them all in unique ways (a glass of wine with your favorite music), your senses led you to explore, enjoy and seek new experiences.

The pleasure... of knowing what day it is
So, back to being so busy you don't know what day it is... a lot of that pleasure gets lost when you live that way. It is not that the stimulus for pleasure is lacking. You just don't "stop to smell the roses" any more. Right?

It's not that you designed your life to be so crowded that your needs get lost in the shuffle. And in part, it is not because you didn't see it coming. But the needs of so many others – bosses, friends, husbands, parents, kids – all needing, craving your attention to do something for them, you really do get lost.

As your needs get submerged in the daily grind, you not only lose sight of the day of the week, (is it Thursday? if so I need to get hubby to get the garbage out to the street. Oh, wait, that's tomorrow) you lose contact with your senses.

You eat on the run, you more often smell food to make sure you can serve leftovers to the family than to enjoy the aroma. No, your senses, doing things for the sheer pleasure of them, are on hold while you weave your way through the day.

Facebook and the hoped-for adventure waiting to be lived
Guilty pleasure? Facebook for an hour before you go to bed, while your bedroom partner is watching TV. You need that, that connection. Connection not just to old long-lost friends and distant family members. You need that contact to your old self, your "self" when life was an adventure waiting to be lived.

In sharing with your old friends, if you pay close attention, you are recalling the feelings, the pleasures, even the tastes and smells of those day long gone by. You use the words of pleasure describing old scenes (he smelled of Old Spice, those roses were wonderful, you wished you had grandma's great pie recipe).

Well, you are living that adventure now. What you didn't count on was it doesn't feel like much of an adventure, does it? Challenging. Stressful. Tiring. Satisfying. But, adventure? Nah.

Somewhere along the road to living your dreams you got sidetracked. Something got missed. Not that what you have now is bad. Just that it’s not entirely what you expected. Somehow along the way you dialed down your sensual self. No time for it. No energy for it. No space for it to enliven your day. Certainly no place for your sensual self to bloom and discover wonder in the ordinary, nor experience the extraordinary.

Gaining weight while missing your dreams
Over the years, while you were dialing down your sensuality, you probably were dialing up your weight. If you take some time to fully reflect (of course you may have to wait until late Tuesday evening before you get a break to be able to do so), your weight and your sensuality are connected. Moving in opposite directions. Perhaps you may not have thought about it that way. But, it's true.

Your body is a mirror to your accumulated life experiences, to be sure. But your body is also a projection of your future – what you expect from your next years. If you knew you were going to be running a marathon this time next year, wouldn't you change your body dynamics today?

If you knew you were going to be alone, partnerless, would you begin to focus more on your body now? If you know nothing big is likely to change in your life, what's the moving incentive to change your body today?

That is not to say that you neglect your body. Nor that it isn't important to you now.

Your body reflects your expectations
It's just the realization that your body reflects your future expectations more than you probably realize. And at this point of your life, your body has turned down its expectations of feeling sensual again. But that can be changed.

If you want to lose weight, and keep it off permanently, your sense of sensuality is going to change – has to change.

Why? Because you need to matter to yourself to lose significant weight and keep it off. You need to discover your sensual self, explore and expand it. Your body is more than just something that needs to drop a few pounds. You have to focus on the beauty that you may have ignored for too long. Because sensuality is the route to finding the deep motivation to stay on track to lose significant weight.

Gaining weight loss motivation
If your only pleasure in weight loss is seeing the scale move down a little at a time, you are going to suffer motivational set-backs. Especially if you are on one of those diets that make you eat like a rabbit and sacrifice your favorite treats (don't they all?). You are going to feel deprived. Denied. Restricted. Limited. And when you are feeling that way you need to balance it by increasing your pleasure along the way.

Losing significant weight is not as easy as just consuming fewer calories.

Losing a lot of weight, which can take months to do it and still be healthy, is a challenge to your will power to stay the course. No matter what program you are on, your emotional commitment is going to take a strong beating at times. And the ONLY way to get though that is to have already begun a path of rewarding yourself with pleasures each step along the way.

Find pleasure – lose weight
Otherwise, when the going gets tough (and it will at times) the pleasure you will most likely seek in those weak moments is to overeat – to binge on exactly the wrong foods (other than Bugs Bunny, no one gorges on carrots). Plus, you just set yourself back several weeks in your weight loss plan. With that blown, further discouragement sets in, and the cycle WILL repeat.

The preventive measure is to learn, re-learn, permit yourself to find pleasure in living, smelling, touching, tasting, seeing, and being loved again. And to do it now, to make it a habit BEFORE you experience the long haul of trying to lose significant weight.

You need to feed your body's senses, if you are going to be depriving your body of calories.

The emotional process of losing weight, the path to weight loss motivation, to losing a lot of weight, is going to have to go through you being willing to be sensual once again. Joyfully accepting your sensuality.

Your sensuality will lead you to weight loss. A lot of weight loss.

Don't believe me. Try to lose a lot of weight and keep it off without increasing your sensuality. Oh, yes, you've done that already. We all have. All of us. Now it is time to justify you taking the time, and effort, without guilt or apology, to smell the roses, eat great chocolate, to experience once more – to express once more – the perfect kiss.

How do you control your appetite?
Conclusion 22: Express Your Sensual Self

Next article...
How do you control your appetite:
Rule 23: Eat Grasshoppers with your Cereal

VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com – Satisfy Your Hunger
©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Don't Eat a "Balanced" Meal: Rule 21 to Control Your Appetite

For as long as I can remember since coming to America I had been told to eat "balanced" meals. And to make sure I feed children "balanced" meals. Haven't you heard that advice too? Sort of motherhood and apple pie, right?

Since I have not always lived in this country, that repeated advice always made me wonder: What does a "balanced meal" mean? Where did it come from? Is it good advice? I remember hearing similar advice repeatedly in my youth, but in English, it just sounded oddly different.

Both my parents are physicians. My father is a pediatric surgeon (he still practices and teaches at a prestigious university). My mother was a pediatrician before she retired a few years ago, but spent most of her career as the chief medical administrator for a large province in my home country. So, nutritional admonitions were a constant part of my upbringing.

This was especially true because, as an infant I had an intestinal problem that required surgery to resolve, with two major consequences. The first is a large surgical scar that made a bikini not my first choice for beachwear – as I lived in Hawaii for 9 years, that was always a disappointment.

"Your body will not allow you to eat like other people"
Secondly, my father, while he railed about the importance of "proper nutrition" and the Russian equivalent of a "balanced meal" he always counseled me to not follow the latter advice. "Your body will not allow you to eat like other people," he told me. "You need to eat small meals, and just one kind of food at a time, or you will cause yourself digestive problems."

I followed his advice all my young years, and he was right. Whenever I tried to depart from his stern warnings, it was greeted with intense intestinal pain.

Not long after I came to this country, and eager to live the wonderful American lifestyle and indulge in its many wonderful culinary delights, I quit listening to the voice of my father in my head. I eventually paid for it with pain that exceeded anything I felt during childbirth (years later). After countless tests and ultrasounds, and x-rays, I underwent another difficult abdominal surgery.

This not only enlarged my bikini-defying scar, it made me go back to living Papa's advice.

I couldn't eat like American's did.

And for many years, that kept me lean (except for a problem pregnancy – which is a different story, for later).

Why study "balanced meals"?
So, I decided to track down the whole "balanced" meal idea. It seemed so wholesome, so correct, so ingrained in our practices and language, that everyone I talked to about it wondered what value could possibly come from even questioning it.

Yet, my double abdominal scar reminded me daily that there was a disconnect from the "eat a balanced meal" approach and my forced "one-food-at-a-time" meal choices. While I kept a youthful figure though my 30's, all my friends were steadily gaining weight. Something wasn't right, so I decided to check into it.

There was also this nagging thought in the back of my head: If, as Papa said, eating like other people was not good for my body, was it possible that it wasn't good for those other people either – it just took longer to show-up as a problem in their bodies?

Sometimes the things we do the most often, the things about which we seldom ever ask "why is that so?" turn out to be things that really matter.

This is my report to you on what I learned about "balanced meals."

What is a Balanced Meal?
Basically, it is the idea that every meal ought to include each of the major macronutrients, like carbs and proteins and fats and vegetables and fruits. It is where we get the idea to serve a baked potato with steak, with a small salad on the side. Or rice with our fish. Or a side of applesauce to accompany our pork-chops and mashed potatoes as an evening meal.

What could be wrong with any of that? Well, quite a lot, as it turns out. That advice is part of the weight gain problem and certainly stands in the way of losing weight.

Where did the idea of a "balanced meal" come from?
When scientists first discovered vitamins and minerals, and learned of their importance to our bodies, it became apparent that some foods were better for our health than others – some foods just had a lot of these vital elements, while others didn't. So our parents and grandparents were loaded-up on the importance of eating the "right foods" to make sure they got all the right nutrients.

But, then it became apparent that some foods had too much of bad things – like fat. So they were told NOT to eat butter (for example) because it was nothing but fat. Margarine was the "healthy" replacement for butter. Of course, now we know how that advice turned out. Margarine is full of cancer-causing, artery clogging, heart-destructive trans-fats, and butter has been rehabilitated. So, we sort of made a u-turn on that one.

Trouble is, we need to make a u-turn on a lot of other bad dietary advice. And the first to go, if we want to lose weight and keep it off, as it turns out, is to get quickly away from "eat a balanced meal". Papa's advice to me, to help me manage my abdominal struggles, was correct. Yet it ran counter to everything else he taught my older sister. And she and Mom, and Dad have increasingly struggled with their weight, and high blood pressure, their entire lives.

The Politics of "Balanced Meals"
Once you accept that it is important to get a lot of varied nutrients into your body, the question is "when?"

The answer as to "when" to eat nutrients turned out to be very political. Every industry wanted in on the act. The breakfast cereal companies wanted their meals to be paramount. The dinner guys wanted their meat or their potato or their asparagus to be included. Every food producer wanted to be a potential part of every meal.

The key point, politically, was not to set up a dietary guideline that keep key industry players out of any one meal. Thus, the politically correct idea was born: "balanced meals."

Everyone won. Every industry – cereals and grains, meats and poultry, vegetables and fruits, nuts and legumes. If the government told you to eat "balanced" in every meal, every food-player had a chance to have their food on your plate – for every meal. Perfect solution. Politically.

(The FDA even passed a regulation just a few years ago that breakfast cereals couldn't have 100% of all required nutrients added – except for those like Total® that were already doing it. The theory was that if you consumed all your required nutrients before noon, where would that leave the other food companies trying to push their nutrient-laden foods on you to eat later in the day?)

Trouble is, there was not a shred of scientific evidence to support the "balanced meal" concept. The idea that you had to get EVERY KEY VITAMIN AND MINERAL IN EVERY MEAL, was based on NO SCIENCE whatsoever. None.

In fact, the science said, (especially back 50 years when all this really took root), at worst, that as long as you got the nutrients in your body sometime during the day, you would be just fine. We now know that if you get some nutrients just 2-3-4 times a week, even some important life-enhancing nutrients (like omega-3), your body will still thrive.

The idea that you had to get every nutrient in every meal is bogus.

A "balanced meal" is a political statement, not good dietary advice.

So, is there a down-side to "balanced meals"?
The short answer is: YES.

There are times of day that your body can use certain nutrients better than other times a day – at night for example.

But the real problem to "balanced meals" is the weight-gain factor.

What is now known is that when you eat a starchy carbohydrate with a protein, (meat with potato, rice with fish) in the same meal, it can cause weight gain (it doubles the amount of insulin your body produces, and extra insulin is a fat generator).

When you eat fruits with other foods, same thing happens. (There are several other fat-making combinations, but these will suffice for now.)

The problem is not so much the food choices. It is the foods you eat together.

But it is literally "politically incorrect" to say that today. So we see Internet ads for "secret diets" that involve mixing up what you eat, and food combining, and scores of books on the subject going back to the 70's. These are just manifestations that the "balanced meal" advice we are getting is flawed, and companies are trying to fill the credibility-gap with there own half-solutions, and guru-led self-serving pseudo -science.

Now much of the data attacking the "balanced meal" concept has been around for a very long time (even some starting in the 1920's when insulin was first discovered). Over the last 30 years a ton of research has been done on this, and published in the medical journals (we have a full-time science researcher on our staff, and the primary author of ScaleDown For Life™, whose sole job is to keep track of all this science – so we track all the latest dietary research very closely).

But the science of "balanced meals" is still taking a back seat to politics. As recently as the beginning of the Bush (Jr.) presidency, the FDA had one food guide pyramid based on the science of food, and a much different one from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), based on the politics of food. Can you guess which won out? Mr. Bush fired the FDA commissioner (Kessler) and the USDA got its way. (By the way, have you seen the "new-improved" confusing food guide pyramid they produced? Neither has anyone else.)

You have to learn how to eat for health and weight loss
The point here is not government bashing. The point is, if you want to understand what to eat, to keep you healthy AND lose weight (or at least not gain weight) you are going to have to rely on something other than government publications and the food industry to tell you what you ought to be eating.

Papa was right. "Your body will not allow you to eat like other people," he had told me. "You need to eat small meals, and just one kind of food at a time, or you will cause yourself digestive problems." He forgot to add: "If you eat like me and mom, you will gain weight like us."

With Papa's excess weight and high blood pressure, and Mom's expanding girth, there is a lesson in how NOT to eat for all of us: Don't eat "balanced meals."

That is my report to you on what I learned about "balanced meals."

(And why I'm glad I have a double surgery scar to remind me every day that "eating healthy" is the opposite of eating a "balanced meal".)

PS: On the road to losing weight, you have to lose the "fat between your ears" if you want to keep the weight off permanently. You can't just diet, lose some pounds, then go back to what you were doing before. Isn't that the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

How do you control your appetite?
Conclusion 21: Don't Eat a Balanced Meal

Next article...
How do you control your appetite:
Rule 22: Eat Grasshoppers with your Cereal

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VP Programs Development, ScaleDown for Life
VP Education, GoZonkers Inc.
Founder, CelebrateLifeNutrition.com – Satisfy Your Hunger
©2009 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.