I had no map!

•May 16, 2010 • 3 Comments

 

It’s been a while since I’ve visited blog-land.  It’s not because I didn’t have ideas to write about because I have ideas coming out my ears.  It’s not because I didn’t have time since I refuse to allow that to keep me from doing anything I want.  So why haven’t I written to you?  It’s because I have lacked focus.  Not in my writing, but in my fitness and running goals.  Me?  Lose focus?  Yep.  And it’s easy to do.

I ran my last marathon 3 weeks ago.  Following typical marathon events, I took a week off of much activity, workouts, and definitely running to give myself time to heal.  But at that point, I made a very critical mistake. 

I forgot to set a goal.

chp_tech_roadmap_1

GPS devices and maps are great tools if you know where you are going.  But until you put a destination in, they can only tell you where you are and where you’ve been.  That’s great information to know, but it’s not going to get you out of your driveway.  If you’re like my husband and I, you’ve spent a few trips in the car driving around asking each other “Where do you want to go eat?”  It can be frustrating and can waste a lot of time (and gas) until you decide your destination. 

Running and fitness are the same way.  Until you set goals, you can only see where you’ve gone and where you’ve been, but you’ll spend a lot of time working aimlessly instead of targeting your workout to be effective.

How To Set Goals

When it comes to setting goals, many of us start out with very broad goals.  “I want to lose weight.”  That’s similar to saying “I want to visit Europe.”  It’s a great general goal, but when it comes time to plan that trip, you have to be a bit more detailed.  That’s why I like to follow the SMART guide to setting goals.

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely

Specific

This is where the “go to Europe” falls.  You have to be specific.  Broad, general goals are difficult to meet because it’s hard to track milestones.  This is one of the primary successes of the Weight Watchers program.  You don’t focus on the end, you focus on small, specific goals.  “I want to lose 5 lbs.”  Other specific goals could be “I want to drop one dress/pant size,” “I want to do 10 pushups,” “I want to run a 5k.” " These are very specific and they are very….

Measurable

Making goals measurable is how you earn gold stars!  If your goal is to lose 5 lbs, you can measure that.  You can measure a goal of running a 5k by keeping track of how many miles you can run in a week, day, or hour.  Being able to track your progress toward your goal will help motivate you in your journey.

Attainable

Another key to success is to chose attainable goals.  If you can’t run a mile, don’t set your goal to be to run a marathon in 3 months.  For me, I still can’t do a single pushup, so my goal would never be to do 10 by next week.  Small, attainable goals will give you motivation and will help keep you on track.

Realistic

It’s sometimes difficult to understand how attainable and realistic are different areas, but this is a very important one to understand. One of my goals is to lose 5lbs in a month, which is very attainable.  However, if I were to say I plan on doing it by not eating any sweets, candy, soda, or sugar, I would definitely be setting myself up for not only failure, but a very stressful (and miserable) month, trust me!  If you set a goal to run a 5k in 2 months, planning to do it by running for 30 minutes every single day of the week is very unrealistic.  Make sure you set your goals and make your plans by being realistic.

Timely

In your goal, make sure you set a time goal.  We work better and more successfully if we give ourselves a timeframe.  Keep the duration of the goal short or break it up into smaller goals.  The most successful fitness goals tend to be no longer than 12 weeks, which is why many training programs fall into 12 week increments.  If possible, find an event or occasion that corresponds with your goal.  If you want to run a 5k in 2 months, find one that is 2 months away and register today.  If you want to lose a dress size, make dinner reservations or plan an event near that date.  The anticipation and excitement will spur you forward!

Your Goal Statement

Now, get out a piece of paper and write it out.  Tape it to your mirror, your car dash, your day planner, put it in your phone calendar.  Keep it where it will remind you of your goals. 

Who?    -  “I.”  (okay, this one is pretty easy)
What?   – “I want to run a 5k".”
When?  – “I want to run a 5k in July.”
Where? – “I want to run the 5k on July 3rd in Tulsa, OK.”
How?    – “I want to run the 5k on July 3rd in Tulsa, OK by joining my local training program.”
Why"?   – “I want to run the 5k on July 3rd in Tulsa, OK so I can become healthier and be a good example for my children.”

Congratulations!  Now you have your map!  It’s not extreme, it’s reasonable, and most importantly, it’s possible!  Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is the key to planning a successful journey.  Now what?

Get out there!

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Mother’s Day for the Last Minute Shopper

•May 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

no chocolate

We are officially 3+ days away from Mother’s Day, and if you are like most people, you have waited until the last minute to decide what on earth to honor your mom (or wife, sister, friend, etc) for Mother’s Day.   It can be a daunting task, and even more of one if the mother in your life has taken on a new quest for healthiness. Changes in eating habits, size, activities and even hobbies make it a challenge to keep up with these new moms who are setting and breaking goals every day.  Never fear, I am here with your last minute guide to Mother’s Day shopping for the fit mom!

Personal Shopping Consultant

As moms lose weight and see their body change, it often takes a very long time for the mind to catch up.  We still see ourselves as the chubby mom in the mirror and often times we are embarrassed by our clothing.  We have all seen the mom who is loosing weight who still wears the baggy and ill fitting clothing.  A great Mother’s Day gift for this mom would be a gift certificate to a session with a Professional Image Consultant.  These professionals go on a shopping trip with individuals and help them find clothes that maximizes the good and disguises the “in progress” in an effort to help us feel better about our bodies and our new look.  The Association of Image Consultants has a wonderful search tool on their website, http://www.aici.org, to help you find a local image consultant, and their fees are very affordable.

Cooking Classes

cooking-class-demonstrationIf you are like me, you have typed “Low Fat Chicken Recipe” into Google so many times that you’ve begun to wonder if you are going to turn into a low fat chicken.  After a while, embracing a new eating plan can become boring!  Many local cooking schools, appliance stores, and restaurant supply stores have cooking classes that are getting on the bandwagon of healthy meal preparation.  A gift certificate to a low fat cooking class from a cuisine that is new to the mom in your life would make a wonderful Mother’s Day Gift while showing her that you support her new goal of healthy eating!

Fitness MagazinesMagazines

Many moms live in a “hurry up and wait” mode throughout the day.  We rush from point to point and often have 5-10 minutes of waiting time between events.  Fitness magazines and subscriptions to online fitness e-zines make great gifts to fill those little periods of empty time.  With options for almost every fitness activity from running to yoga, and cooking magazines such as Cooking Light and Weight Watchers, there are many choices that make great gifts.  Purchase gift subscriptions online and most magazines offer printable cards that can be slipped into a Mother’s Day card for a great last minute gift that lasts all year!

Electronic Gadgets

garmin405-6 For moms wanting to become more active, there are hosts of fitness gadgets that help keep moms motivated and informed.  Do you have a new walker or runner?  Consider a Garmin Forerunner device.  Many of these devices have GPS that allow you to track your distance, pace, even elevation.  Heart rate monitors also are a great option to help learn how hard you are working.  A few years ago, my loving husband invested in a body fat scale system to help me track my body fat loss.  Body fat scales are great tools to help monitor not only fat loss, but hydration levels to help ensure great progress.  Most of these devices can be found at local running and sporting good stores at great prices. 

Event Registration

For moms who like competitive events, a great gift to encourage and support her in her goals is to pay for her entry into a race or competition.   Local 5k races, cycling events, tennis tournaments, or even stair climb competitions all help drive moms by activating that competitive spirit.  Couple this with a promise to be there supporting her and you have found a wonderful way to not only encourage her with your words, but with your presence.  If you have more to spend, consider destination activities.  Rock climbing camps, running camps, yoga retreats, and tennis camps are all fun trips to allow mom to get away from the everyday while mixing in the fun of their favorite activity!

Whatever you give your mom for Mother’s Day, make sure you let her know that you support her in the changes she is trying to make for her health and for her family.  Encouragement goes a long way in helping everyone stay motivated.  What a great day to celebrate the wonderful mothers we have and the powerful, strong women we are all becoming!

My Favorite Water Stop

•April 30, 2010 • 3 Comments

 

Last week, I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for the second time.  I have a heart for that particular race since I am originally from Oklahoma City, so when the time came for the 10th Anniversary running of the marathon, little thought was required in my decision.  It was a beautiful day for a run and all the training and agony of the past few months paid off.  And yes, I ran a personal best and met my goal.  But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.

You see, everyone has a point in the marathon when they struggle.  For some it’s mental, for some it’s emotional, and for some it’s physical.  It goes by many names and comes at various times, but everyone finds it at some point.  For me, that “wall” comes at mile 21.  I begin to get warm, I’m tired, and I’m just not convinced that running 26.2 miles is what I want to do right then and there.  But something happens.

I love Devon energy.  I do.  You see, they have a water stop at mile 21.  At the end of the water stop a group of volunteers holds buckets of ice cold water.  In that bucket of ice cold water are these little sponges, we call them, well, the “Devon sponges.”  And like a ray of heaven coming down from above, a sweet little volunteer kindly looks at you and tells you you’re doing a great job and hands you a sponge. 

I proposed to the volunteer this year.  Actually, I proposed to all of the volunteers holding out those sponges.

You see, in every journey, every struggle, every fight, there is usually someone or something we grab onto, either physically or emotionally, that supports us in our cause.  During my marathon experiences in Oklahoma City, it’s always those wonderful sponge-bearers.  Don’t get me wrong, all of the volunteers are very much appreciated, but that one person is holding exactly what I need at that moment to achieve greatness.

In your quest for a healthy, active lifestyle, find your sponge-bearer.  Seek out individuals or groups that will give you the right support you need right when you need it to help you along the way.  It may be a website, a newsgroup, a blogger, a coach, a friend, a spouse, a trainer, or even a stranger at the gym.  But make sure that as you travel on this journey that you have in place the support and encouragement you need to help you achieve your goals. 

support

And when you’ve found that person or group, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate them.  You don’t necessarily have to propose to a random volunteer holding a bucket, but encourage them in return.  You might just find that when you need them again, they’re right there where you need them the most.

Is your diet toxic for your children?

•April 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 

As moms, there comes a critical point when our children were just beginning to show language development when suddenly we have to watch what we say in front of our sweet, innocent little babies.  Sure, the first time they said a cuss word we might snicker under our breath, but immediately the realization that they can repeat after us smacks us in the face and we shape up. 

habits

We do this in other areas as well.  As parents, we want our children to have better opportunities than we had.  Parents who were raised by alcoholics, gambling addicts, abusers, and smokers often resolve very early to not do those things in front of their own children.  We want them to grow up happy, and healthy, right?  So why does that end with our diet?

Too Old to Forget

Studies have shown that children have definite memories as far back as 3 years old.  Parental recognition studies have shown that older children can remember physical characteristics such as height, weight, and hair color of their parents as far back as 4 years old.  What does this have to do with your diet?  It means that once your children have reached the age of 4 years old, they will remember if mom or dad were overweight when they were young.   From the age of approximately 4 on, your lifestyle choices and your diet choices set the example of how your children will grow up and their attitudes towards weight and healthy living and eating.

The Hidden Message of Diets

 

There are many great diet programs out there, which I will discuss in a bit.  However, there are many weight loss methodologies that have been shown to not only be ineffective long term, but also send horrible messages to children about the importance of good decisions, good eating habits, and good exercise habits.  I ca

ll these programs “responsibility shifters” because they remove the responsibility from you to take care your body and shift it to someone else.

Danger

The first programs that I try to steer clients away from are those that replace meals.  Programs like Jenny Craig, Slimfast, and other methods that use meal replacement as a means to lose weight are very good ways to lose weight; over and over and over again.    The problem with these programs is their long term success rates.  Neither program have success rates over 30% by recent studies.  Why is that?  They do nothing to teach you how to eat healthy and how to make smart decisions about your meals.  They force you to rely on their products to lose weight, and therefore you become dependent on those products to keep it off.  Once you have lost the weight and attempt to reincorporate normal food and eating into the equation, the weight comes back on because you have yet to make good habits permanent.

The second method that I wholeheartedly steer away from are the surgical procedures.  I feel that as mothers, these are the worst possible means to lose weight.  Keep in mind, I believe for the truly morbid obese who are facing imminent death, this is a different story, but for women who still have the means to cook for themselves, get active, this is a horrible message to send to your children.  A recent study showed that the 5 year success rate of these surgeries lies at a very low 30%, and even less after 10 years.  In fact, almost 60% of individuals who have gastric surgeries end up gaining all of their weight back.. and more.  I call this method of weight loss “body bankruptcy,” as you gain all this physical “debt” and then use an artificial method to wipe the slate clean.  I have never known a single person who has had one of these surgeries to have kept the weight off.  Additionally, the high incidence of addiction transference (starting smoking, becoming alcoholic or addicted to pain medication) is terrifying.  And sadly, it’s because, once again, it’s a crutch.   Most doctors who perform these surgeries require no follow up care, no cooking classes, and rarely monitor diet modifications.  It is simply a way to force a physical change to a mental issue.

And that is where the issue lies.  Obesity is a mental problem.  I have it and many of you have it.  We know what makes us gain weight.  We know what we need to do, but many of us simply aren’t willing to make the permanent changes we need to see positive health.  And why are these programs such a hazard to our children?  A recent pediatric study showed that most (65%) women who have gastric surgeries have overweight or obese children.  Using these “crutch” methodologies are sending our children down the same path that we have fallen on. 

Teach by Example

There are wonderful diet programs that exist to help individuals lose weight  healthily and permanently.  Weight Watchers boosts the highest long term success rates of any weight loss program.  And, the same study as above showed that an even more overwhelming number of lifetime Weight Watchers members have children that fall into the “healthy” weight range.  Other programs like Overeaters 16802Anonymous and online programs like SparkPeople also have shown a wonderful side effect of healthy families.  Why is this?  Because these programs deal with the whole body.  They teach participants how to make good decisions, how to work with and not deny cravings, how to incorporate healthy eating and fitness habits into your everyday life, how to handle stress eating, and how to live healthy. They treat your mind, body and spirit to help get rid of that fat version of you that is ingrained in your mind.  When that happens, your children observe it and learn from it too.  Instead of growing up thinking that yo-yo dieting is healthy, they learn great eating habits from the start.  In stead of themselves gaining 100 extra pounds and having a surgery to wipe it away like mommy, they never have the heartbreaking life of getting to that point because fitness and good habits are instilled in them along the way.

We all want what is best for our children, and the best thing we can do for them is to teach them by example.  I certainly don’t want my children to someday look in the mirror and realize they’re 70, 80, or more pounds overweight like I was.  I want them to be strong and healthy all along, knowing that I did the best I could to teach them along the way.

Do it for you.  Do it for your children.  Do it for life.  Just keep….

moving4life!

Wii Fit or Wii Flop?

•April 11, 2010 • 2 Comments

wii_fit_box_front

If you were like me, when Nintendo announced the Wii Fit, you became giddy at the idea of combining fitness and video games.  The idea that I could see incredible results by working out with nothing more than a balance board and a hand-held controller seemed incredible!  But now that the rush is over, looking back over the past two years, how successful has Wii Fit been in revolutionizing the fitness market, and is it really a good workout?

In a study by Scott Owens of the University of Mississippi, it was noted that usage of the Wii Fit decreased 82% in the first three months of ownership.  Users who typically used it 22 minutes a day on average per week when they first purchased Wii Fit quickly began using it less and less, to the point that the average daily usage the last half of the study dropped to 4 minutes per day.  The conclusion was that the Wii Fit had very little effect on the family fitness level. 

coatrack-002

I’m sure many of you know someone who purchased the Wii Fit and now has a rather expensive dust collector in their living room corner similar to other home fitness equipment pieces.  I’m guilty myself.  At first it seemed like an excellent opportunity to participate in “fitness” activities with my husband and children, but like the results of the University of Mississippi Study, it became quite evident that the Wii Fit was… well, boring!  But aside from that, I also found that it wasn’t enough of a workout, so..

What’s the Skinny?

The American Council on Exercise did a study involving the Wii Fit to determine what is the true level of workout possible on the Wii Fit.  The results were shocking to me.  They performed tests using six of the Wii Fit programs on men and women of average weight and minimal fitness levels, Free Run, Island Run, Free Step, Advanced Step, Super Hoola Hoop, and Rhythm Boxing, as these were the ones touted to meet the requirements for cardiovascular exercise, the primary component of a weight loss program.  Island Run and Free Run yielded the highest energy (and calorie) expenditures, but none of the Wii Fit exercises met the American College of Sports Medicine’s requirements for cardiovascular endurance.  All 6 cardio programs on the Wii Fit fell below the guidelines for fitness.

What about the Calories?

The calorie expenditures were also a bit dismal.  If performed for 30 minutes nonstop, the highest calorie burn was achieved using Free Run where the participants were pushed beyond the program requirements, and it’s calorie expenditure was only 150 calories.  The least beneficial was Free Step, which burned 99 calories for 30 minutes activity.  Compare these to their “real life” counterparts and the results are surprising.  A 30 minute run at a 11 minute/mile pace yields a 480 calorie burn, compared to the Wii fit’s 150.  Similarly a 30 minute low-impact step aerobics class burns approximately 300 calories compared to the Wii Fit’s 99. 

Why Bother?

jumping jack jpg

There are those who have said “I lost x pounds using Wii Fit.”  Keep in mind, any increase in physical activity from a completely sedentary lifestyle can cause weight loss.   Keep in mind, however, the goal is not simply a smaller waist size, but also a healthier heart.  Given the choices, a 30 minute walk with your children around the block yields much more emotional, physical, and cardiovascular benefits than a video game.  In the end, life is about choices.  If your only choice is no activity or the Wii, then definitely pick the Wii.  But if you have any other choice than the Wii, consider the benefits not only to your weight-loss, but also to your heart.  After all, I want to see you…

Moving4Life

Bad to the Bones

•April 6, 2010 • 2 Comments

Did you know that there are negative side effects of weight loss?  If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that the constant need for new clothes is definitely a negative effect, but did you know that physiologically there are bad things that happen when we lose weight?  Studies have shown that as we lose weight, our bone density decreases.  Weight loss, in general, is a cause for earlier and more serious onset of osteoporosis, especially in women.  But, before you put that weight down and pick up a jelly-filled donut, let’s examine just why this occurs and what you can do about it!

Why, oh why?

There are two main reasons why bone density decreases as we lose weight.  The first reason has to do with physics.  When humans are overweight or obese, the bones respond by becoming stronger to handle the increased weight.  Up to a certain level, overweight individuals tend to have higher measurable bone density than those who are at a normal weight.  However, keep in mind that those who are underweight or are morbidly obese have the least amount of bone density. 

Recent studies have shown that increasing weight bearing activity does not help slow the reduction in bone density or,at best, it is minimal.  Increasing activity is definitely an important part of weight loss, but the skeletal benefits of activity actually begin to occur once an individual reaches a healthy weight and continues the activity. 

So, if the body naturally decreases bone density while we lose weight, why is it such a problem?  If the first reason bone density decreases is natural, what’s the second? The answer lies in the pastures…

milk

That’s right! Milk.  Or more importantly, calcium.  A 2009 study showed that individuals who are attempting to lose weight by calorie restriction typically give up calcium rich foods first.  Furthermore, diets that suggest that followers restrict carbohydrates tend to lead participants to decrease foods that the bones need to stay healthy.  Foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt are often the first foods dieters eliminate due to their higher calorie and fat contents, but are the leading sources of calcium that the body needs!

What’s with Calcium?

calcium_vitamins

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body.  The National Research Council shows that the average man has three pounds of calcium in their body, and the average female has two.  99% of the calcium found in the body is in the teeth and bones leaving 1% to the rest of the body.  But that 1% is where the danger lies.  Calcium is a major key to several body processes such as clotting, wound healing, blood pressure control, neurotransmission, digestion, energy and fat metabolism, muscle contraction, and connective tissue maintenance.  When your diet causes you to become low on calcium, the body systems have the ability to “borrow” what it needs from the teeth and bones, and this causes bone density to decrease at a higher rate. 

What can we do?

It seems like the obvious answer is to drink milk, right?  However, I have been surprised at the number of clients and individuals who have told me that they can’t stand milk.  Nutritional studies have shown that a high-calcium but low-fat diet actually help individuals lose weight faster!  But the key is to add low-fat calcium sources to your diet.  Skim or 1% milk, low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurts as well as green, leafy vegetables, broccoli, and cooked dried beans and peas are all wonderful sources of calcium that need to be a part of your diet. 

Recommended Daily Allowance of Calcium

Age Male Female Pregnant/ Lactating
Birth-6months 210 mg 210 mg  
7-12 months 270 mg 270 mg  
1-3 years 500 mg 500 mg  
4-8 years 800 mg 800 mg  
9-13 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg  
14-18 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
19-50 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
50+ years 1,200 mg 1,200 mg  

Sources of Calcium

Food Milligrams (mg) per serving
Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 8 oz. 415
Cheddar Cheese, 1.5 oz 306
Milk, nonfat, 8 oz. 302
Milk, reduced fat (2%), 8 oz 297
Milk, whole, 8 oz 291
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 oz 245-384
Calcium fortified orange juice, 6 oz 200-260
Tofu, soft 1/2 cup 138
Calcium fortified cereal 100-1000
Soy beverage, calcium fortified, 8 oz. 80-500

What about supplements?

If you were like me, you look at that chart and think that there is no way that you can eat enough food to get your calcium needs and still lose weight, right?  That’s where calcium supplements come into play.  There are two main forms of calcium in supplements – carbonate and citrate.  Calcium carbonate is more abundant and is rather inexpensive.  Citrate is more expensive, but is absorbed more easily by those with reduced levels of stomach acid.   But the difference in absorption between carbonate and citrate can be leveled if calcium carbonate is taken with food.

But keep in mind, the body can only effectively absorb calcium in increments of 500mg or less.  So if you take a 1000mg supplement, can you guess where over half of that supplement will end up?

Toilet

That’s right.  The FDA recommends that individuals break up their calcium supplements and take a 500 mg supplement twice a day to get an adequate amount.  However, they also recommend that at least 30% of your calcium come in the form that the body can best use – food!  Why is this?  Because there’s another pesky partner in this battle for weight loss and bone density – Vitamin D!  The body needs Vitamin D to help utilize the calcium and most foods rich in calcium are also, conveniently, rich in Vitamin D.  So don’t eliminate dietary calcium and replace it with a pill.  Your body will thank you!

Calcium-Foods

Now that you know that there is a potential negative side effect to weight loss, I hope you will take the steps to prevent it from occurring.  Keeping your calcium levels at an adequate level while losing weight will help minimize the decrease in bone density, helping reduce the possibility of osteoporosis, stress fractures, muscle cramping, and hip and spine fractures.  Small dietary changes today can ensure that you are able to stay….

moving 4 life!

I’m Drowning!

•March 31, 2010 • 4 Comments

 

glass-of-water

For years I’ve had running coaches and trainers go on and on about water. Drink water.  Stay hydrated.  Stay away from soda.  Water. Water. Water.  It gets to be a bit overwhelming all of the instructions that are given to us when we first start a lifestyle of fitness, so as usual, I’m hear to hopefully clear the air and help make a little sense of things.

There are things we all know.  Water is important.  Our bodies are made up primarily of water – at least half of our body weight is water.  Wow!  But why is water so important, especially for weight loss?  There are several reasons!

Dry Rivers

800px-Dry_river_bed_in_California

While the body is made up of a great deal of water, there is a specific part of your body that is made up almost entirely of water – blood plasma!  Blood plasma is composed 90% of water.  Blood plasma is the river that oxygen and nutrients travel on to reach cells for metabolism.  The chemical process of metabolism that is most influential for weight loss takes a lot of oxygen to oxidize the chemical compounds that drive the body.  If you are dehydrated, the blood plasma thickens and the body simply doesn’t have the raw materials it needs to effectively metabolize nutrients to it’s best ability.   The body has an incredible survival system in that if those raw materials aren’t accessible, it sets a higher priority to more vital functions and then sends unused nutrients on their way.  Even at rest, muscles are burning calories, but when they aren’t able to take in the oxygen they need to burn those calories, they simply rest.  What does that mean?  Slower metabolism!!

Be nice to your Liver

Similar to the flow of blood plasma, the Kidneys need water to help eliminate toxins and process water.  When the kidneys become overloaded due to dehydration, the Liver begins to assist in the elimination of toxins.  But this is bad.  Why?  First, it’s the liver’s job to convert stored fat into energy.  This is a good thing.  But if the liver is being re-tasked to help with the kidneys, that job gets put on hold.  Second, the liver acts like a hibernating bear.  Because the body has signaled that there is a shortage of water, the liver starts stockpiling.   Eventually, the fluid retention on the liver has to be handled by the body, further taking it away from it’s job of converting fat to energy.  By not giving your body the water it needs, you are taking away one of the single most important employees away from it’s job and basically turning it into the body’s disposal.  Not good.

Psychology at it’s best

We humans think we have everything figured out.  But one of the biggest signals our body gives is the signal that is commonly the most misinterpreted.  Often times when the body is needing water, we notice the cues, but our brains interpret them as hunger cues.  Now I know what you’re thinking – “yeah, but when I eat something, it goes away.”  You’re right.  It does.  Primarily, it tricks the stomach long enough to get it to hush.  But typically if you begin snacking, 30 minutes to an hour later, you feel the same signal and you snack more.  Also, keep in mind that just like our bodies, foods have water in them too.  You may be able to keep those signals at bay for a while, but eventually they will come back.  Studies have shown that those who remain hydrated throughout the day tend to snack much less than those who don’t.  In fact, one study suggested that those who began to keep water bottles nearby (and actually drank the water) tended to take in, on average, 450 calories less per day!  Many diets will tell you to “trick” your body by drinking water to eliminate hunger cues.  But the truth is, the only one being tricked is you.  By drinking water, you are giving your body exactly what it wants!

So How Much??

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are so very many opinions about how much water we should drink.  There’s those who say 8 ounces eight times a day.  Some say half your body weight in ounces per day.  Both of those seem like a tremendous amount of water, and those theories are being questioned and disproven more and more often.   In 2004, the Institute of Medicine issued new recommendations that remove the eight glasses per day requirement and suggest that healthy adults use thirst as a guide to determine hydration.  However, this doesn’t include athletes and those taking part in prolonged physical activities or extreme conditions.  Their suggestion for these groups is, on average, 91 total ounces for women and 125 total ounces for men.  Keep in mind that term total ounces – I’m about to touch on that!

Do I have to drink just water?

Shopping Basket Series

No.  The IOM along with several other Medical organizations have all agreed that water can come from various sources.  Most also suggest that even caffeinated beverages can be counted in the total water amounts as long as the individual takes into account the effect that caffeine may act as a diuretic for them.  Studies have shown that with reasonable amounts of intake, caffeinated beverages have such a minimal diuretic effect that it is negligible.  Also, the IOM suggests that of the total ounces it recommends, 20% should come from food.  Foods such as lettuce, watermelon, broccoli, grapefruit, milk, carrots, yogurt, and apples all are made up of at least 85% water.  These foods can be counted into your total water intake!! 

Final Tips

These are some ideas to help you get more water in your diet.  They have certainly helped me along the way.  If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

  • Keep a bottle of water near you.  You’re more likely to drink it if it is nearby.  I have reusable water bottles such as those made by Nalgene that I can fill at water fountains and restaurants.
  • Drink a glass of water before your meal.  It will help you eat less and will aid in digestion.
  • Drink when you start feeling hungry mid-day. 
  • Add flavorings or fruit to plain water if you don’t like the taste.  Flavoring packets can easily be kept in your car or purse and added to bottles.

Water is crucial to keeping your body and metabolism at it’s peak.  You would never send an employee to do a job without the tools it needs, so remember when you are attempting to lose weight to give your body what it needs!  I hope I have been able to explain just how the body uses water to help you lose weight!  If you would like any of the resources used for this post, please ask! 

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful weather most of us in the United States are experiencing right now!  What are you doing to enjoy it?  Are you taking advantage of it to get moving?  I hope so!!  Great job this week – keep it up.  You are worth it!!