Tip of the Week

Roll with the punches! Life is gonna smack you right in the face when you don't expect it. If you're head's on straight, you're certainly gonna handle it just fine. Roll with it. Complain a little bit, and let it go.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Truth Tuesday

Today finishes the three-part series (Part One, Part Two) on The Calorie, finishing with a big discussion about nutrient-dense food vs. energy-dense food, and a testimonial by the author of this article herself, Cheryl Redmond. Why did I take the time to put this article into a three part series for this blog? Because it's important. So, read it, read it again, and internalize this information. Knowledge is power, and power makes you healthy. End of story.

P.S. Welcome back from Labor Day. I'm updating my facebook account with great weekend photos. :) How was yours?

Analyzing the diets of more than 7,500 people, Rolls and her colleagues found that those who favored a low-energy-density diet tended to eat more fruits and vegetables, fewer fatty foods, and drink water rather than soda. They also got higher amounts of important nutrients -- including iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, B6, and folate -- than people whose diets consisted mainly of high-energydensity foods. And even though the low-energy-density participants consumed a greater volume of food, their calorie intake was lower -- a winwin situation overall.
Some foods like nuts are both energy and nutrient dense. One ounce of almonds, for example, has about 160 calories, but it also provides healthy amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You don't want to eliminate these foods. Instead, eat reasonable portions, and you'll gain the nutritional benefits but not the pounds.

Does it matter when I eat?
"There's no metabolic reason that calories consumed at night are different from calories consumed at other times of day," says Neville. The difference, she says, is that you don't have as much time to burn extra calories in the evening. Clark agrees. "Your body does not break down and use calories differently depending on the time of day they're consumed." Indeed, most people get all the calories they need for the day by the time dinner ends, she notes. But if you eat an unusually large dinner or snack late at night, you now possess excess calories. "If you wind down for the evening by sitting and watching television, you're not going to burn them," notes Clark. Bottom line: Regardless of when you eat, too many calories results in weight gain.

How I Counted Calories and Lost 13 Pounds
In the 25 years since I left college, my weight has slowly but steadily gone up. Because I'm tall and never strayed from the "healthy" range (and because I love to eat), I managed to ignore this trend until it became impossible to wear my jeans and breathe at the same time. I was seriously considering forking over almost $200 for a pair of jeans guaranteed to make me look thinner when I had a reality check: Why not lose some weight?

Not a fan of diet plans, I decided to count calories. I registered at a free online calorie counting Web site, set a modest weight-loss goal (12 pounds in 12 weeks), determined my daily calorie intake (1,800), and got started. Since I work on a computer, tracking my meals online turned out to be convenient. I rarely dine out, so I knew exactly what I had eaten and how much. Counting was sometimes tedious, but I treated the process like a challenge, not a chore. (Check out a typical day of my diet, below.)

Was I tempted to cheat?
Sure. But I didn't. What would be the point? I might have fooled the program, but I couldn't trick the scale. Setting realistic goals helped. Knowing I was supposed to lose only a pound a week -- and hitting my goal -- kept me motivated. And it worked. At the end of 12 weeks, I lost not 12 but 13 pounds. More important, the clothes that had been relegated to the back of my closet once again fit comfortably.

I've since stopped counting calories and have maintained my weight. A couple of lessons in particular have helped. I no longer mindlessly snack; there are calories in those foods, I now realize. The world won't end if I'm a little hungry (in fact, hunger pangs often pass). I can still enjoy sweets -- if I use some common sense. Instead of downing a half-dozen chocolate chip cookies (and "treating" myself to 800 calories), I eat just one cookie for dessert -- very slowly, so I can enjoy every bite.

Total calories in a day: 1,782

Breakfast 312 calories
Oatmeal with milk and maple syrup: 210 calories
Cranberry juice: 102 calories
Green tea: 0 calories
Water: 0 calories
Lunch 739 calories
French lentil salad with lemon vinaigrette, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts: 649 calories
Dark chocolate: 90 calories
Plain selzer: 0 calories
Dinner 731 calories
Tilapia with bread crumbs: 298 calories
Mashed sweet potato: 135 calories
Broccoli with butter: 105 calories
Gingerbread: 152 calories
Plain seltzer: 0 calories
Cappuccino: 41 calories

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