Saturday, February 26, 2011

Orlando - Walking & Working

I'm in Orlando for a couple of days, working the Imprinted Sportswear Show, being held at the Orlando Convention Center (technically that is the Orange County Convention Center). Never being one to let excuses get in the way of walking, I took advantage of the everything that I could to get my daily allotment in. 

One opportunity was the wide open sidewalks surrounding the Convention Center. Plenty of space and nice views made it a pleasant early morning experience even with a fair degree of humidity in the air. Those same sidewalks interconnect with the ones running up and down International Drive and Universal Blvd, meaning easy access to most hotels.

I purposely selected a hotel within reasonable walking distance of the Show so I would be comfortable walking rather than taking a cab, car or bus over. Why ride when you can walk? And considering that it costs $13.00/day to park at the Convention Center and $0.00 for the hotel, there was an added benefit to the stroll.

In addition to the show, it was an easy walk to all of the area restaurants and clubs, thus choosing a strategically located hotel really does pay-off in more ways than one.
And then there was the show itself - actually three shows in one - which spanned the majority of the North Hall. I easily walked 5 miles each day just at the show, with my grand total running about 10 miles when you throw in everything else.
It just goes to show, that if you want the exercise you can find a way to make it happen. Or said another way, there really aren't too many good excuses not to burn calories, even when you are traveling and working.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jennifer Hudson's "Incredible?" Weight Loss

I usually pay no attention to Celebrity Weight Loss stories, as I find that a headline about a famous person losing weight (or attempting to) is usually more about publicity than helping others.  And too many times the so-called weight loss strategy is mired in bizarre methodology that is nearly impossible to implement and sustain by us mere mortals.  But with every story, if you get the true facts, you can learn something if you look beyond the paparazzi factor. 

Jennifer Hudson's story,which was covered on Oprah last week, is one that is worth paying attention to, if you are looking for a weight-loss strategy.  I must admit, I had pretty much tuned her out as she was on every channel 24/7 promoting Weight-Watchers.  Now I have nothing against her or Weight Watchers, but commercials for weight loss product have a tendency to imply that by eating their food or popping their pill, the pounds mysteriously fall off, which is simply not true. Quite simply, you need to burn more calories than you eat, and you need to do it in a healthy sustainable manner.  In Jennifer's case, she chose Weight Watchers as her methodology.  (Note - Weight Watchers is more than just food, its an entire program and I am not slamming their company or their products.  For the record, I don't use them and never have.)
Ok, so in the interview with Oprah, Jennifer provides enough details that you can get a much better understanding or her entire program, rather than just her celebrity endorsement of a product.  For that I give her high praise!  One of the things that really stood out to me was her focus on exercise - she knew it had to be fun.  I can't stress that enough, if its enjoyable you will do it religiously and be able to sustain the program forever.  If not - you will fail...  And of course she balanced that aspect (burning calories) against the other aspect (ingesting calories) to generate a net negative calorie consumption, which in turn yielded a positive reduction in pounds.
One potentially negative aspect of the interview or should I say the headlines is that her 80 pound loss is referred to as "incredible."  I disagree.  Having lost 70 pounds myself, I don't see anything incredible about it and I worry that big words like that might discourage others from starting on their own weight loss journey. 

Certainly it takes a while to burn off that much weight, but it can be done if you choose a program that helps you burn more calories than you consume (in a healthy manner) that you can sustain for the rest of your life.  Remember that whatever you do to lose weight will also have to be done to maintain that weight loss once you drop the unwanted pounds.

Weight loss is accomplished one pound at a time and it certainly does not come overnight. For me - eat slow (in small quantities) and walk fast (in large quantities)...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do Celebrity Fad Diets Work?

Good Morning America Saturday aired a segment today where they looked at Celebrity Fad Diets.  Chief Medical Editor Richard Besser led the discussion along with a group of professional Nutritionists.  Read the transcript.

As expected, most of the diets were pretty bizarre and while all of them had the potential to deliver a reduction in pounds, that didn't mean they were healthy or realistic.  The ones they looked at were: The Raw Food Diet, The Blood Type Diet, The Macrobiotic Diet, and The Master Cleanse.

The Raw Food Diet like it says is all about eating raw food, mostly fruits and vegetables, which in one respect is healthy, but ultimately doesn't include all of the right ingredients that your body needs and can be very difficult to sustain as raw food is not universally available, making the program impractical for most people.  It got a negative rating by the panel.

The Blood Diet is all about eating certain foods based on your blood type.  First of all, the group pointed out that there is no scientific data to support the concept.  Secondly, it again turns into a difficult program to adopt and sustain.  The vote - thumbs down.

The Macrobiotic Diet is predominantly a vegetarian affair, but with an emphasis on local whole foods.  It also excludes meat and dairy products.  In addition, it stresses good habits like EATING SLOW and chewing your food completely.  The panel gave this one a thumbs up, provided the user did a lot of careful planning.

The Master Cleanse was the most bizarre one of all.  Its core concept is to flush your system rather than to provide healthy food choices.  One of the panelists said it reminded her of the prep for a colonoscopy.  Bottom line, it is designed for a quick drop in pounds, but there is nothing remotely healthy about it and it certainly can't be sustained for very long.  A resounding thumbs down on this one.

A couple of key points that the panelists made (and that I preach all the time) is that each of the various programs accomplished the same thing - they reduced the calorie intake, which in turn is the basis for weight loss.  Thus they aren't disputing the potential for dropping pounds, rather they are rating them based on the overall nutritional benefit, the ease-of-use and the sustainability.

I say it constantly - successful weight loss strategy begins with a lifestyle change that you can sustain for the rest of your life.  Short term fad diets are the ticket for short term weight loss and that's about it.  Who cares what a celebrity says or does - the only thing that matters is what you can do on your own.

Monday, February 7, 2011

More Weight Loss Scams

An article in USA Today on 1/24/11 by Nanci Hellmich reports that the FDA declared HCG weight loss products fraudulent and illegal. According to the agency, there is no evidence that oral over-the-counter HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) products are effective for weight loss.  It should be noted that HCG's are approved as a prescription treatment for infertility and other conditions.  Read the full article online.

So my take on this like most other weight loss products is that they are very useful when it comes to one thing - losing money!  I hate to think how much time (as well as money) people wasted on these kinds of things expecting to dump pounds easily, then becoming disappointed when the results never materialized. 

Interestingly enough, in this case the article indicates that the HCG products are supposed to be used in conjunction with a very low calorie diet of 500 calories per day.  HELLO... if you are only bringing in 500 calories per day, there is an excellent chance you are going to lose weight from the virtue of burning more than you consume, not because of any other product combination.  So why spend money on a supplemental "drug" when you are already doing the hard part without it?

I rest my case - focus on the basics of weight loss - diet and exercise - as icky as that may sound.  And remember, I never advocate fad diets or painful workouts! Whatever you choose you must be able to sustain for the rest of your life, because the day you stop is the day the weight starts coming back.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What Are You Weighting For?

Bumped into a former co-worker of mine the other day.  He remarked on my weight loss, as he always does and I asked him if he had started on a program of his own?  After all, the guy is noticeably overweight and has had some medical issues as a result.  Listen, I'm not trying to be mean, just stating the facts!  Plus, I never try to push weight loss on anyone who doesn't ask in the first place - just wanted to be straight on that.

Ok, so anyway, his response was "no he hadn't started on any kind of weight loss program yet, but he was planning to."  I wanted to strangle him!  This is so classic - waiting for the right moment to start losing the pounds.  What are you waiting for - something to fall out of the sky and hit you on the head?  (Of course that was kind of my story too as recounted in the first Chapter of my book.)  In his case, he had already been given the wake-up call, but obviously put it on hold rather than answering it.

There is no reason you can't get started today!  Doesn't matter what day of the week it is, what month it is or anything else, you just have to wake up and say - "lets do it!".  The reality is that you have to start somewhere and you need to do it gradually.

In his case, I (strongly) suggested he start focusing on a few simple things starting right then.  First, avoid the escalators and elevators (we were in a three story commercial building) and find reasons to walk around as much as possible.  Second, park as far away as he reasonably could to force more walking.  Third, buy a pedometer and start working towards 10,000 steps per day.  And fourth, eat a lot slower and focus on quiting when full.  All easier said than done, but reasonable "baby-steps" to start the weight loss process.

Quit weighting for something to happen - take control today.  Just think, if you were able to lose one pound per week and you started two months ago, you would be almost 10 pounds lighter now.