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, – 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, – 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

Listen to Podcast (RSS feed)by CelebrateWoman for this blog

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

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Slow Arsenic and the Gift of Childhood Obesity

Giving the gift of obesity to your child.

Someone talking about your child's weight can be uncomfortable. Especially if you don't think your child is overweight, and the other person does.

No one wants to think of their child as being overweight. In fact most parents don't see their child as being overweight even if the scales show otherwise. Parents are unable to tell the difference between puppy fat and childhood obesity. Non-judgmental parental love is the culprit here.

But discomfort and blindness aside, we are in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic that is growing worse daily. And the only way it is going to be solved is to acknowledge the difficult truth that childhood obesity has doubled in the last 20 years. Clearly something is wrong and getting worse. Clearly a new, ongoing conversation needs to begin about the seriousness of the problem, and start grappling with solutions.

So, can we talk about your child's weight today?

Because it does matter if your child is overweight. It does matter if your child is obese. It does matter, even if they are not overweight today, because their weight status can change dramatically, rapidly during their growing years. It matters because a child that is obese, that slims down during their teens, still has 2-3 times the risk of becoming obese in their middle years.

In the end, childhood obesity matters because your child's weight, their over-weight or obesity, is your gift to them. This is more, much more than simple genetics.

• If you are an obese woman, your daughter is 10 times more likely to become obese

• If you are an obese man, your son is 6 times more likely to become obese

This is not just genetics at work. It is your gift of lifestyle – exercise and food choices. Genetics just sets-up the over-weight possibilities. The rest is what you do teach them to do with those genes.

Let's talk about the food you feed your child.

Slow arsenic: It's what's on the menu.
Would you knowingly give your child arsenic if you knew it would kill them in a week? What about a month – would you give them arsenic if it took a month to kill them?

If you knew your child would be wonderfully happy for an entire year, the most happy they could ever be, because you found a form of arsenic that would make them exceptionally happy before it killed them in a year, would the tradeoff be worth it?

Would your choice be different if you gave your child happy-inducing-arsenic that took five or ten years to kill them?

Of course not – not if you KNEW it was slow arsenic, and even if it induced happiness along the path to their demise.

Yet, unknowingly, unwittingly, unwillingly, feeding your child slow arsenic is exactly what you are doing every day. The evidence for that is your child (or most children) are getting fatter. It not only makes them fat, it rapidly and lastingly destroys their health. It may look like ordinary food, but if your child is gaining unhealthy excess weight, you need to be in the hunt for slow arsenic in their diet.

The most difficult choice any parent makes is what to feed their child.

How do you know what is really healthy? What is supposed to be in a "balanced" meal? If you eliminate the trans fats, and lower the fat grams your child eats, is that enough to keep your child from becoming overweight or obese?

What about Vitamin D, omega-3, fiber, and whole grains? If you get all these, is your job done?

Not knowing the best answers to these questions, parents do the best they can, eliminate the worst foods from a child's menu, and give-in to their child's food choice requests.

The trouble is, this strategy isn't working. In fact it is making things worse. What mothers and fathers don't know about nutrition is killing their kids. Slow arsenic to be sure, but killing them nonetheless. That sounds harsh. It can certainly feel harsh when someone else is talking about you and your child. It is, however, all too true for most kids.

Consider the rapid rise of childhood obesity this last two decades – the rate has doubled.

Adult onset diabetes – as the result of obesity – is the fastest growing childhood disease. Isn't that frightening?

One in six children are clinically obese when they start elementary school. You probably only knew one kid, maybe two kids in elementary school that were obese. Your kids will know 1 in 6. Could your child be one of them? Could your child BECOME one of them?

What can be done? What can You do?

You have to start over. You have to overcome your reliance on what is clearly not working. You have to quit listening to all the bad dietary advice served up in magazines and on TV.

You have to quit dieting, especially if you are a woman, because your daughter, (as young as 5 years old, in many cases), and increasingly your son, will take your dieting as a strong clue that they should do the same. Your dieting is your child's path, THE PATH, to eating disorders. Or excess weight gain.

That advice won't get you far, but at least it will stop increasing the damage.

For the rest, you will have to look to your own diet. Because study after study is confirming that what YOU eat, how often YOU eat, how much YOU eat, what foods YOU eat together, are all "caught" by your children. They see what you do and follow suit. Of course they have their own variations and preferences. But, the main course of their daily fare is learned by watching YOU. By the time they are 9 or 10 or 12, that learning is a lifelong habit.

Before they are old enough to be taught "nutrition," they have "caught" their lifelong eating preferences from you.

So, if you want your child to eat healthily, you are going to have to learn to eat healthy yourself.

If you are already overweight, how YOU lose weight is the model your children will learn to follow.

Are you prepared to feed your kids Weight Watcher meals for the rest of their years at your table?

PS: Would more discussion on this crucial subject of childhood obesity be of interest to you? I would like to hear from you, please.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cry: Rule 20 – How do you control your appetite?

A few years ago we were filming a video for a French weight loss education company.

The film crew had settled into one of those great old French farm houses, which ooze charm and the history of having been lived in since before the French Revolution. The small windows, short doors, even the old iron stove was still there. Pictures of family and friends and vacations, even an odd politician or two, were everywhere scattered like odd-shaped jewels in places not obvious to an American.

The lady of the house was a true lady, imparting genuine charm, with an earnest gaze into your eyes as you spoke to her. She listened intensely, and spoke softly and slowly with barely a hint of an accent. Her gray hair was neatly tucked into one of those buns you seldom see anymore, but it gave her an air of casual regalness, if there were such a thing.

Morning light peered tentatively into the tiny breakfast nook, barely room for two, with a small, old hand-painted yellow table. Tea was seeping in one of those kettles with a padded fit-quilt covering it. More sunlight began to flood the room. Then one of the crew had an idea.

He ran out into the equipment truck and came back with a strange device that resembled one of those things beekeepers use to smoke beehives with. He told the cameraman to truck back into the living room (filled as it was with chairs and Ottomans and floor lamps and pictures, and an old cast iron two foot tall ashtray that no one used anymore), moving a camera and crew into there that wasn't an easy task.

They laid a curving camera track back into the living room so the camera could come slowly around the corner, as if it were quietly eavesdropping on a conversation at the painted yellow table. The set dresser moved the vase with the single white rose to one side, so as to not block the view of the teacup from the new angle.

They rehearsed the shoot and the moving of the camera. Checked the light off Sofie's face. Then pronounced themselves ready.

Sofie had a talk earlier with the director. She had used the French company's weight loss education program (which we had created for them) and was said to have a very lively testimonial. She did not want to rehearse her lines, she said, because she wanted it to flow directly from her heart.

They started the smoke machine, just enough to catch the morning light that was now streaming into the nook. The rays of light from the multiple small panes created beautiful patterns on the slow moving wisps of smoke that was so subtly present you couldn't guess it was man-made.

"As a child I was always active. I grew up here among the trees and vines and rows of carrots, and cabbage my dad insisted we grow from a variety he found in England (of all places)", Sophie began. "I have always lived here. I can't imagine any other place in the world I would want to be. René and I were married just out there," she gestured to the gnarled tree outside the nook window. "He was sooo sexy to me."

"I grew to love him here, in this house, and appreciate his wonderful ways with me. Like this house I couldn't imagine being with anyone else." To this last moment Sophie had been upbeat and radiant. But she was turning more serious. I looked at the director who privately made a motion with her two fingers like scissors – she was telling me they would have to cut some of this preamble, but Sophie was just getting started, and she didn't want to interrupt.

"I had my daughter Simone over there in that bedroom – the same room I was born in." This time she didn't point, she barely nodded in the direction that was directly in front of her, the view now blocked by the camera and crew and those big silver light-reflecting panels they use for filling-in the shadows.

She was more serious now. "René left me 10 years ago. We buried him next to my parents down by the Cathedral. He said he was sorry. He didn't want to go first, to not leave me alone. His last words, from my mother's old bed were, 'I'm sorry I have to leave you now, please forgive me Sophie.' With that he closed his eyes for one last time." Sophie was looking straight ahead, almost unblinking, but her gaze was entirely on her memories.

"I loved him more in that moment than in all the moments of my life put together, and he just slipped away, closing his eyes slowly and grasping my hand as tightly as he could. Then he was gone."

"I couldn't cry for a long time. I just sat there holding his hand and looking at his face that I had seen him shave a thousand times, the lips I never tired of kissing, the hands that had held mine so many times, in so many ways. And it had all slipped away, to be gone forever, and I just wanted to be with him – to be with him, to be..." she trailed into silence. Her eyes unblinking, her face frozen.

I looked at the crew. Everyone was crying, holding back involuntary sounds that escaped from deep in their chests. The cameraman kept rolling, silently motioning to the grip to roll him very slowly forward.

"I've missed René these ten years. Missed him so much. I couldn't garden any more. Never tended to Mom's roses. Never planted Dad's English cabbage. I was alone here for many years, with Simone in the South, visiting a couple of times a year. When René's small pension ran out, and I had to figure out how to pay the bills. I seldom used the electricity. (Grandpa installed that hanging light over there himself.) In the Winter I wore two old wool sweaters from my cousin's sheep."

"One day, after many years, I ventured back into the garden and started growing things again. Slowly life re-emerged into my hands, light was coming into my eyes, my legs didn't feel so heavy any more." For the first time during this long sequence Sophie looked around the room, as if she saw us all there for the first time.

"When I came out of my cocoon I noticed that I had gained a lot of weight. Somehow I don't recollect how or when it got there. It just did. I was kind of shocked. I had never had been overweight my entire life. I was always proud of that, and René would not have approved." With that last line she managed a small smile that barely turned up the corners of her mouth.

"Then I decided I had to lose it. I couldn't ask my pall bearers to carry me at that weight. It just wouldn't do." That was such a strange comment, I thought. I had never heard it before.

"So I tried dieting. I wasn't very good at it. I never payed much attention to others discussing such things, as I knew I never would need to know about it." She sipped tea for the first time from one of those floral tea cups you see in the old movies.

"Now, to me, dieting meant you had to stop eating. So I stopped eating. And for the first time in my life I got hungrier than I could imagine. Obviously that wasn't going to work. So, I decided to try to cut things out of my diet instead of not eating anything at all. While my weight fluctuated a bit, I never really lost anything. I didn't eat this or that or the other, but somehow I never lost anything substantial."

"With a limited budget anyway, I kept thinking about cutting out the most expensive foods. When I tried that idea, it failed to help. Bedsides, I got to the point that I didn't know what else to cut out any more."

"That Spring I had my old neighbor help me plant a big garden (he is about 8 years older than me, but since we grew up together, 8 years had always seemed like a LOT older. Now, with his help it was a grand garden like my grandmother used to plant. I grew a little of everything. I was ravenously hungry and as soon as the peas were ready, I ate them right off the vine. I couldn't wait for the tomatoes to ripen, or the melons to smell just right, or for the squash to be the right color and size. The strawberries, small and wonderful."

"By Fall I had lost a lot of weight. I was almost down to my original size. And I had spent so little money to do it, too. I was not cutting down, I was eating more, and enjoying it more."

Finally, Sophie inserted some kind words about our client's weight loss education program, how it helped her understand what to do from then on to keep her weight off. But by then, all of us in the crowded room just wanted to hear what she was going to say next. The commercial had been turned into a life story we all anxiously wanted to hear.

"About a year ago, René came to me in a dream. I don't remember dreaming much, except when I was a child. So, even though I was dreaming, I knew it was strange I was dreaming."

"I thought as René walked toward me in the dream that there never was a moment when I didn't remember our last moments together. Although I felt pain, unbearable crushing at that last moment, I have always been very thankful we could share those moments together. In the dream he said he could only visit for a short time, but he wanted me to know he had wandered a long time without me where he was now. He said he had never felt so alone."

"'Then one day," René said, "I saw you in your garden. I couldn't speak to you, but I came back every day to see you. I pushed all my love and admiration for you into those peas, and squash, and English cabbage. And I saw you blossom once again, eating the fruit of our love. You were just as beautiful as the minute I married you. Don't forget that I am with you in that garden for whatever time you have remaining. It will always feed you life. With it, I will always feed you love.'"

"He turned to go, in my dream, and I pleaded with him to stay. He turned around and I saw his wonderful old face one last time, the one I had seen him shave a thousand times, kissed countless kisses. He held up his hand and pointed to the tree outside the breakfast nook window as he began to turn away. 'I am always waiting for you there, every morning when you're having tea. Someday, but not too soon, we can meet there, and we can walk these gardens, together, hand-in-hand.'"

The smoke machine had stopped. No one noticed in the silence.

How do you control your appetite?
Conclusion 20: Cry

Next article...
How do you control your appetite:
Rule 21: Express your sensual self

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mom Was Big. Ideas to Eat Less – to Live More.

"Mom was big."

You get excuses from your mother.

Your solutions are your own.

You are not a prisoner of your genetics. Unless you want to be.

Do you want your child to be shackled by the same excuse?

It is not an easy life, being overweight. Especially when there seems no upper limited to how high you can go.

And, whatever you may say to yourself about your own weight, you know you don't want the same thing for your children.

The "battle" for permanent weight loss
The difficulty is figuring out what to do – how to lose weight and keep it off permanently. There is a reason it is often referred to as a "battle with excess weight."

The first key point here is that while your genetics may work against you, because you may seem to be losing that "battle," it is not the fault of your character, nor your willpower, nor your restraint.

The second key point is that what you "know" is what is causing your on-again, off-again weight loss. "The "fat" is between your ears. Lose that, and you'll lose weight steadily.

How do you do that? Well, it may be as easy as doing the opposite of what you "know". While I don't advocate that, it certainly can't cause you more harm than has already been inflicted on you by the plethora of bad information you presently hold in your head.

No quick solutions to permanent weight loss
There are no quick solutions here – but there are real ones. Solutions grounded in science. Not some "secret" that has finally been revealed to the world by a self-styled guru, no matter how thin they may be now, nor how much they used to weigh.

The human body is an amazing miracle. The solution to permanent weight loss is to work with the body, not to try to trick it into short-term weight loss. The body will always respond to that by making you gain it back, plus some. Is that what you want?

If all you want is to drop a dress size or two for a special occasion, then there are certainly 101 ways to do that. The Internet is stuffed full of them.

If you want something more lasting, if you want to win the weight "battle" one last time, and then retire from the "war," you are going to have to be a lot more selective in how you choose to lose weight. No miracle herb, tea, food, or exercise is going to deliver what you want.

Nearly every commercial weight loss program is based on one scientific fallacy or another. Just because so many may sound similar doesn't make any of them correct.

The biggest weight loss fallacy – Low calorie diets
One glaring key fallacy: Low calorie diets.

Whether it is Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, HCG, or African bush beans, nearly all are engineered to have you lower your calorie intake to very low levels. You will lose weight every time you do that – it doesn't really matter what program you chose. But, you will also pay the price with additional weight later. Low calories diets are ticking "weight bombs." Is it any wonder that these companies all thrive on repeat customers? Where is the "permanent" in "repeat"?

Which leads us back to you being a prisoner of your genetics. Unlike other wars, being confined within the prison of excess weight is a choice. You can choose to surrender and give up. Most of us, at one time or another, have felt that way... war-weary, perhaps you have felt that way for many years.

But you can break free of the prison bequeathed you in your genes. You can lay down the weapons of war, and walk away, free. Because that long-sought permanent solution is equally encoded into your genes. To take advantage of that, you will have to make a U-turn at the bottom of the hill. And that is the subject of my next article.

"Mom was big?"

You don't have to be.

Does saying your mother was big really make your day lighter?

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