Mental Monday

Feeling chubby? Don't sweat a few pounds

Minor weight fluctuations are normal. How to keep them from adding up.

“My weight disturbs the way I feel in my own skin,” says 43-year-old Ada Hyde of New York City. “I can feel it when I bend over at the gym. I hate the sensation of this extra stuff on me."

If Hyde was 20 or 30 pounds above her goal weight, her anxiety might seem understandable. However, her anguish is coming from a mere extra three pounds she sees when she steps on the scale.

For her, and other dieters like her, those three pounds might as well be 30.

When a size 4 fashion model Coco Rocha is considered too fat to walk the runway, it’s not surprising that there are many people, particularly women, who feel tormented about being a few pounds “overweight.” Their poor self-image is caused by a weight problem that’s imperceptible to anyone else. Even if they wake up feeling flat-bellied and svelte, when they step on a bathroom scale, the extra pound or two they see throws them into a funk for the rest of the day.

Minor weight fluctuations are natural. An extra pound could come from the 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce (1,400 milligrams of sodium) poured over sushi or 2 pickles (1,700 milligrams of sodium) consumed with lunch the previous day. Salt acts like a magnet to water, creating fluid weight gain, not fat weight gain. For women, weight can also fluctuate during the month due to puffy menstrual pounds. Some people gain weight because of fluid retention related to menopause, arthritis, thyroid disease, allergic reactions or the medications they take.

Studies suggest a daily weigh-in can help keep off any weight you've lost. To avoid becoming too obsessed with the numbers, weigh on Friday and Mondays only. Weighing at the book-ends of the weekend can help prevent weekend diet-busters. If you weigh on a Friday and your weight is lower than expected, you may eat a little more liberally on the weekend. If Friday's number is higher than preferred, you're less likely to overdo it over the next two days. And if you have to weigh-in on Monday, you're also less likely to overeat over the weekend.

Also, weigh yourself at the same time of day, preferably without clothes, on the same scale, and with the scale in the same place.

Besides, it's not only the pounds that count. People can have a normal body-mass index and still be fat, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found. This ‘inner fat’, known as visceral fat, is fat that surrounds your organs and is more dangerous for your health than external, or exogenous, fat.

There are methods to test your percentage of body fat through processes like underwater weighing or skin-fold caliper measurements, which can predict health risk (men with a body fat measurement over 23.2 percent of body fat, and women with 33.3 percent of body fat are at greater risk).

While those extra few pounds may really only matter to you, there are some easy ways to keep them from adding up. Follow these tips to feel more comfortable in your clothes:

  • Use zipper-lock sandwich bags to measure snack foods more carefully. This is especially helpful when it comes to the handfuls of cereal, nuts, or pretzels that somehow find their way into your mouth throughout the course of the day. Each scoop doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but calories add up quicker than you realize. On average, a handful of cereal or pretzels is around 150 calories; that same amount of nuts could cost up to 300 calories.
  • Have a glass of wine with dinner instead of splitting a bottle with someone. This change could save at least 200 calories. To make it easier, have a glass of sparkling water to sip between sips of wine. This will help to keep you busy while waiting for your meal to arrive, without adding any calories.
  • Try to drink at least 8 cups of water each day. Aside from preventing constipation, water will help curtail fluid retention caused by the consumption of high sodium foods, as well as increase satiety.
  • Pay close attention to the amount of oil you use. Although olive and canola oil are heart- healthy fats, at 2,000 calories a cup, every teaspoon counts. Dilute your favorite salad dressings down with rich balsamic vinegars and make use of cooking sprays and broths when preparing veggies and other savory dishes.
  • Being careful with portion sizes is one of the most important weight-loss strategies. Even highly nutritious foods can interfere with your diet.
  • Never weigh yourself more than once a day … max!
Try to be realistic about keeping within a certain weight range — about 5 pounds above and below your comfort zone — instead of dwelling on a specific number on the scale. Maintaining the exact weight can be difficult day after day. “Ideal” weight is the weight at which you look and feel the best, both physically and emotionally, even if it’s not a perfect number on your scale.

Article by Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.

Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., is author of "Read It Before You Eat It" (Plume, 2010) and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Read her blog at


The Biggest Loser Diary

Sorry for the delayed recap this week! What did you think of the show? Have you picked your final four yet? Share your thoughts and speculations in the comments!

Now on to this week's The Biggest Loser Diary ... help sum up the challenge and the elimination for your readers with the Two-Minute Replay. You can also check in with Lance and hear him answer some fan questions in the “Where Are They Now” video. There are more scenes you didn’t see Tuesday night, too – below we have three bonus scenes! If you want even MORE scenes, you can find them here!

Two-Minute Replay: Week Ten (3/23/10)
The players adjust to life at home. Watch the TMR.

Where Are The Now: Week 10- Lance
Check out how Lance looks today and watch as he answers some of your questions.

Bonus Scenes: Week 10 - O'Neal's Cooking Skills
O'Neal's wife gives her husband a lesson in cooking.

Bonus Scenes: Week 10 - Michael's Update
Bob takes some time to catch-up with Michael.

Bonus Scenes: Week 10 - Newfound Confidence
Sam and Koli return to the ranch with a new sense of confidence.

I recently discovered a FABULOUS Biggest Loser podcast, appropriately called The Biggest Loser Fan Podcast. The podcast is hosted by Father Roderick from The Healthy Catholic podcast, and Cliff Ravenscraft from the Pursing a Balanced Life podcast. It's more than your typical BL fan podcast - they do recap each episode, but take it further by discussing the theme at hand, and offer tips and suggestions - often faith-based - in the show. I love the interaction between Father Roderick and Cliff Ravenscraft, and have been known to smile, laugh out loud, and nod my head enthusiastically while listening to the podcast (which reminds me - note to self, listen to podcast in private, so you aren't mistaken for a crazy person lol).

So, check them out - you won't be disappointed!


My son, the triathlete

Blogging yesterday about my son becoming a triathlete at 11 years old made me go back through our photos of that amazing day (which he was actually interviewed for in the local paper) ....

Getting marked with his number

Setting up in transition

Coming out of the swim

Transition 1

Coming back from the bike

Headed toward the finish line

Crossing the finish line

My son, the triathlete!

My son will be the first one to tell you that the triathlon was the hardest physical feat he attempted - and accomplished - in his life. He'll also admit the first words he said after getting his finishers medal was, "I will NEVER do anything like that again. Ever."

And now, less than 2 years later, he is training for a half-marathon. At 13-years old. This is a kid that has been through hell and back because of his father, who has succeeded against all odds - he is off-the-charts brilliant (seriously), kind, loving, caring, outgoing, fiercely loyal, and the best son a mom could ever wish for. I wish I had had his strength and courage at 13 that he does. Heck, I wish I had his strength and courage at my age now!

I hope this little photo montage encourages and inspires you today!


"You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can." Jimmy Carter

Laziness, nothing but pure laziness ...

Well, dear friends, I have a confession to make. I have been nothing, if not lazy and apathetic, the past few months or so. My doctor said I have a little S.A.D., and I think she's right, because I started coming out of my little blah blah blah moods slowly over the past week, with the return of the sunshine, blue skies, and warmer temperatures. Of course, a 5-week long case of acute sinusitis and eustachian tube dysfunction certainly didn't help, but enough with trying to find an excuse to justify my laziness ...

I find myself once again yearning for clean healthy foods (especially fruits and vegetables), and can't think about anything but getting a good sweat on. Several friends ran their first half-marathons this past weekend, and reading about their excitement and accomplishments have really lit my running fire. I'm 130 days away from the Chicago Rock n Roll Half-Marathon (my 2nd half-marathon), and I'm daring myself to improve my time by at least 25%! Sounds crazy, but I'm gonna push myself and really give my training a serious effort!

I'm very proud to say my 13-year old son has decided to run the half-marathon with me - he became a triathlete at 11-years old, and while he's more of a book and video game kind of kid, he keeps active playing tennis and indoor rock climbing. Tackling a half-marathon at 13-years old is HUGE in my opinion ... when I was 13, running a half-marathon wasn't even a fleeting thought in my mind. All I cared about was boys, boys, boys LOL

I purchased a Nike+ for my son to keep him motivated (what kid doesn't like cool gadgets?), and he also signed up for a profile at (feel free to add him and me as DailyMile friends!). We're easing our way into scheduled workouts at the gym this week, and officially kick off our half-marathon training on April 1st (no foolin'!)

I also purchased a bodybugg for myself, and have been easing myself back into tracking my nutrition - each and every bite - and pushing myself to meet my calorie burn every day. It's been about a solid week of bodybugg-ing, and I've lost 4.4 lbs, so I must be doing something right, eh?

I hope everyone has been doing well, I can't wait to catch up on all your blogs!


"The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also." Harriet Ann Jacobs

The Biggest Loser Diary

Lots of clips for you today!

Watch Sherry return home and show off her progress to her family and friends in the Week 9 “Where Are They Now” clip. One of last night’s bonus scenes features Ashley having an emotional breakdown, definitely check it out to get more from the episode. See that below and check out all the bonus material on the official site: And, Jillian and Bob are back with this week’s Training Tips. We also have the “Next On” for next Tuesday’s episode!

Week 9 – Sherry
Sherry shows her family and friends how she looks today!

Bonus Scenes: Week 9 - Ashley's Breakdown
Ashley hits an emotional wall.

Training Tip 1 (3/16/10)
Bob shows you how to exercise without interrupting your job.

Training Tips 2 (3/16/10)
Jillian wonders if you could be the next biggest loser.

Next On: Big Homecoming
The players prepare for a BIG homecoming on an all-new Biggest Loser, Tuesday 8/7c

Mental Monday

I am a firm believer in making the most out of what I eat! Especially since wearing my bodybugg, I've come to realize just how hard it is to work off a guilty pleasure! More and more, those guilty pleasures simply aren't worth it to me. My first 90 lbs were lost by making simple changes in my diet. NO exercise. I've slipped back into the mentality that I can eat whatever I want because I'm exercising, but the scale - and my bodybugg - tell me otherwise. Time to slip back into my healthy eating habits once and for all!

Get the Most out of What You Eat

Feeling satisfied may be your ticket to successful weight management.

What is satiety? It’s that lasting feeling of fullness at a meal's end, the feeling that you're no longer hungry or deprived. It can be a hard feeling to achieve with some diets. But satiety isn’t a luxury when it comes to weight loss — in fact, it may be your ticket to successful weight management.

"To get more satisfaction out of food, the idea is to fill up on foods that give you a lot of volume for relatively few calories," says Karen Miller-Kovach, MS, RD, chief scientist at Weight Watchers International. For example, 1/4 cup of raisins and 1 2/3 cups of grapes have the same number of calories, but with the grapes, you obviously get to eat much more, and you're apt to feel more satisfied when you're through.

Besides fresh fruit like grapes, other satiating high-volume foods include complex carbohydrates that are high in water, air and/or fiber, such as air-popped popcorn, vegetables and whole-grains like brown rice, says Miller-Kovach. But lean protein-rich foods, such as a skinless chicken breast, low-fat or nonfat yogurt or skim milk can also contribute to satiety, she adds. That's why, for maximum satisfaction, you might want to make sure your meals also contain some lean protein, says Miller-Kovach.

Super-Satisfying Temptation Tamers

Other mealtime tricks for pumping up the volume in your food to maximize your satisfaction on fewer calories:

Start meals with a first course of broth-based soup, vegetable juice or a salad with reduced fat or low-fat dressing. One caveat: "Make sure that first course isn't more than 100 calories," says Barbara Rolls, PhD, Guthrie chair of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Otherwise, you could end up eating too many calories at that particular meal.

According to Rolls' research, which has been published in her book Volumetrics (Harper Collins, 2000), subjects who began their meals with a high-volume, low-calorie starter like soup or salad ate 100 fewer calories over the course of the entire meal compared to those who started their meal with the entrée.

Eat more vegetables, such as leafy greens, lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, summer squash and onions. In fact, stash them in stews, soups, pasta sauces, pizza and meat loaf. They're high-volume, high-satisfaction, low-calorie superstars because they're loaded with water and fiber, Rolls says, two top filler-uppers.

Limit very dry foods, such as pretzels, crackers and chips. Dry foods lack water and thus are low in volume. "Dry foods pack a lot of calories into a small portion and are easy to overeat," says Rolls.

You can also make it second nature to gravitate toward healthy foods that fill you up. When you follow the Weight Watchersfood plan, we can help you learn to naturally seek out these foods, while still being able to enjoy the treats you love.

Eventually you might find yourself gravitating towards these more satisfying, less caloric choices, making your healthy eating habits a way of life, not a chore.

Written by Leslie Fink, MS, RD



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