Living Lite

Six Slimming Strategies for a Successful Summer Vacation

August 8, 2013

A new client came in feeling desperate: She gained 10 pounds on her summer vacation. I've heard this sad story before; but it doesn't have to end this way! In fact, just the opposite...

Cruise Control

Two of my clients recently reported shock at losing weight on their Mediterranean cruise vacations. Lorraine, a 53-year-old public health specialist in Washington, D.C., came home from a cruise and was surprised to find she had lost two pounds. Rick, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in D.C., lost six pounds during his 10-day cruise.

Both remarked that they had indulged in ice cream, desserts, pasta, bread, and other foods that they didn't usually eat. Yet, they dropped weight on vacation, despite struggling to lose pounds at home. As soon as they returned, the pounds began piling on, and they came to me desperate to return to the seemingly magical weight-loss mode they had fallen into during vacation.

I agreed that it was confusing. Both claimed they weren't trying to diet and had eaten without restriction. Lorraine didn't exercise any more than usual and had proof: Her pedometer, which measures her daily steps, showed the same readings she recorded at home. Rick may have walked more than usual—he didn't wear his pedometer—but that alone doesn't explain a six-pound loss, especially given his decadent eating.

Most of us are accustomed to accidentally gaining weight on cruises, not losing it. Tasty, fattening food is available all day long. During every meal, you'll have a few hors d'oeuvres, then an entree, and who can resist dessert? Even midnight buffets. It's not uncommon to gain even a pound a day while on a cruise or vacation.

So, how did these cruises turn into weight-loss adventures? And how can you replicate the conditions that worked for my clients—without getting seasick in the process?

As Lorraine and Rick described their experiences, some patterns quickly emerged:

  • They ate whatever they wanted, from desserts to bread to pasta,
  • They didn't exercise, though they walked a lot during stops in ports (about 12,000 steps a day, according to their pedometers),
  • Every meal featured buffets, stocked with a wide array of fruits and vegetables.

My analysis? The variety and volume of fresh, healthy food helped to properly nourish my clients.

Variety: The Most Significant Factor Influencing How Much You Eat!

Studies indicate that variety, more than any other factor, influences how much we eat. The more diverse food options we encounter, the more we eat without even realizing it. The desire for dietary variety is important for health and helped humans to evolve. People who ate lots of different types of food each day were—and still are—more likely to obtain all the essential nutrients. Based on this theory, a buffet would lead to a higher calorie intake and weight gain. But Rick and Lorraine's cruise buffets had an unusually large and varied number of beautifully prepared fruits and vegetable dishes, from fresh chopped fruit to salads and cold vegetable soups. While exposure to a variety of fattening foods causes weight gain, access to a variety of fruits and veggies promotes weight loss. Though they didn't consciously realize it at the time, both Rick and Lorraine ate more fruits and veggies before, during, and between meals. More on variety...

Volume: Feeling Full While Eating Fewer Calories?

Some foods are less energy dense than others—that is, they have fewer calories per gram—so filling your plate with more of those means you'll be eating fewer calories without actually eating less food. Low density foods, which are low in calories but high-volume, help you feel full and satisfied while dropping pounds. Fruits and veggies are ideal, since they'll fill you up without breaking your calorie bank; they're correlated with a lower body weight. Eating high-volume, low-calorie foods affects how satisfied we feel in a number of ways. It causes stomach stretching and slows stomach emptying, stimulating the nerves and hormones that signal feelings of fullness. There's also a visual component—seeing a large volume of food increases our ability to feel satisfied by it. Studies also suggest that when we eat large meals that last a long time, our satisfaction declines and we lose interest in finishing them.

Why They Ate Whatever They Wanted - And Lost Weight

Still wondering how Rick and Lorraine ate whatever they wanted, including desserts, and managed to lose weight? My analysis is that the fruits and veggies were so plentiful and took up so much room in their stomachs, they both ate less of everything else. Plus, they felt that they had eaten to their hearts' content.

You too can get on "cruise control" at home and enjoy eating the right number of calories, feeling satisfied and even losing weight without trying. Rick and Lorraine's cruise experiences are perfect examples of how this can happen. To replicate their results, consider having a buffet of fruit and veggie dishes in your home and office—morning, noon, and night. Pre-prepare a large variety of these, so they're easily accessible and grab-able. And since exercise counts too, put on a pedometer and aim for the recommended 10,000 steps a day. (About 2,000 steps is one mile. The average office worker gets about 4,000 steps daily.)

Similar recipes you might find on a Mediterranean Cruise, all found in Diet Simple Farm To Table Recipes:

Melon Chunks with Crumbled Feta and Fresh Mint
Nora's Watermelon Gazpacho
Fresh Summer Salsa with Watermelon

Six Strategies
From: "Map for Frequent Travelers" in Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substittions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press, 2011 ) 

• Ask yourself what's most important to you about the vacation. Is it looking and feeling your best? Feeling energetic? Wearing your most beautiful, form-fitting outfits and bathing suits? Visiting with loved ones? Or is it eating every tempting food in sight?

 Always eat at regularly scheduled intervals. Have a large breakfast and stop for a healthy lunch. Don't starve yourself during the day so that you irrationally overeat everything in sight whenever you're around food.

• Set dining priorities. Suppose, for example, you've booked four dinners out. You will gain weight if you eat with abandon each time (plan on 1 pound per day). Decide in advance that one of those nights is going to be your "splurge night." Order anything you want. Enjoy every bite. Savor each and every one of those calories. On the other three nights, order more carefully. You'll still enjoy the experience of dining out, but you won't take in more calories than your body can handle.

• Do your homework. Before you go to a restaurant, check out its website and menu. Take note of the courses that look tasty yet healthy. That way, you won't be as tempted by the sights and smells of fattening options once you get there. Of course, as in any restaurant, the no-brainer healthy selection is a salad-like appetizer, a simple seafood preparation, such as grilled fish, fruit for dessert, and by all means…a glass of wine.

 Stay active. Don't waste time in a gym: Sightsee! Many of my clients get unbelievable amounts of walking during sightseeing vacations: 20,000 to 25,000 steps per day isn't unusual (roughly 2,000 steps make up a mile, and the standard steps-per-day goal is 10,000). That's why you often don't gain weight on trips to Paris or Rome even when you eat in fabulous restaurants every night. (Without the walking you would, though!) Bring a pedometer to track your steps. If you're at the beach, swim—or walk along the ocean between chapters of your trashy romance novel.

 Bring a picnic. This is a no-brainer when staying with friends—it's simply a polite and generous thing to do—or in a rental with a kitchen.


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Katherine’s Ten Commandments for Flat Abs This Summer

July 30, 2013

Have you relegated your best suits, bathing suits and skinny jeans to the dark recesses of your closet? Aren’t you tired of going undercover every summer to avoid exposing your less-than-supple body? Wouldn’t it be nice to have beautifully defined arms, legs, chest, and a flatter belly?

So, before you dump on (or just plain dump) your workout for not giving you killer abs and the slim body you dream of, you should know the real culprit could be your diet - and even your high-stress lifestyle.

When it comes to going from fat to flatter abs, new research shows that what you eat is just as important as how--or even how much-- you work out. And lifestyle counts, too, because while stress doesn’t just mess with your head - it can also induce a pooch. And that killer work-out? It may not be slimming your body the way you hope!

As a longtime weight-loss specialist, I can assure you that a slim body and flat abs aren’t an impossible dream or something seen only on fitness models. In fact, I’ve helped thousands of people (myself included) whittle flabby middles into beautiful flatter bellies by combining an eating plan especially designed to decrease fat and bloating with aerobic exercise, strength training and stress management.

With my plan, you’ll build a show-off body that is the center of attention when you’re wearing a fitted business suit, a bathing suit, a pair of skinny jeans--or nothing at all!

Let’s Get Started ... with Katherine's Commandments…

I. Diet Simple Tip #77: Do Some Calorie Shifting
Americans traditionally eat a large dinner – one that we attack with zeal. Is it any wonder we gain so much weight? Rearrange your days’ calories so you’re eating one third in the morning, one third mid-day and no more than one third at night - so that you're eating 2/3 to 3/4 of your calories before dinner, and you arrive at dinner barely hungry. For most of you, that means you’ll be eating a larger breakfast – about 600 to 700 calories, and a lighter dinner than usual.
Bottom Line: Lose 30 pounds
Eating relatively light dinners at night, and shifting more of the calories to breakfast and lunch, can easily save you 300 calories a day

II. Diet Simple Tip #28: Shop at the Farmers’ Market
I’ll never forget my grandmother's home-grown tomatoes. They were soft, plump, sweet, deep red, and still warm from the day’s sun – the kind you only get fresh from the vine. At your farmers market, you’ll find fruits and vegetables picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture, and nutrition. And when food tastes better, you eat more... it's a SCIENTIFIC FACT!

Bottom Line: Lose 36 pounds
Adding salads,  vegetables soups and fruits to your daily meals will help you cut back on other more fattening foods. Studies show starting each meal with a salad saves at least 100 calories – and that’s without dieting! Try my Gazpacho or Cool Cucumber Soup in my new Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes. And search for my Market Recipes in The Georgetown Dish for ideas.

III. Diet Simple Tip #36: Hit the Ground Running
No one believes me when I tell them they can burn 600 calories before work or before even waking up! They’re even more surprised when I explain that’s the best way to do it.  Try this: Wake up in the morning. Yawn. Roll out of bed, go to the bathroom, have a drink of water, and slip on some exercise clothes. Start moving. Right away! Exercising first thing in the morning is one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself. And before you know it, it’s over with before you’re even awake!
Bottom Line: Lose 28 – 42 pounds
All it takes is thirty minutes in the morning: just walking briskly will burn up to 28 pounds in a year. Another great thing about morning exercise: no middy heat to contend with. Wear a pedometer and make sure you're getting at least 10,000 steps daily. Men love the Nike Fuel Band. Women's favorite: the Fitbit.

IV. Diet Simple Tip #43: Listen When You Chew
Actually, you don’t have to go that far. But you should focus your entire attention on your food so you enjoy and savor every bite. When you eat on autopilot, when your mind is somewhere else, you don’t enjoy your food very much. More important, “mindless” eating generally turns into overeating and doesn’t provide physical or psychological satisfaction.
Bottom Line: Lose 21 pounds
Once you start focusing your attention on the food in front of you - take a few deep breaths and relax before your meals, you’ll almost automatically eat a little less. In fact, even if you leave only a few extra bites on your plate, it could add up to a savings of 200 or more calories daily

V. Diet Simple Tip #45: Write it and Lose It
The food diary is the main tool for self-examination of your eating habits. Socrates told us that the road to wisdom is to know ourselves. This is never more true than in your eating habits. Studies show self-monitoring - keeping a food journal in this case - is the most highly correlating factor with successful behavior change and weight loss.
Bottom Line: Lose 23 pounds
If keeping the diary enhances your attentiveness and helps you eat less here or there or even think twice about that vending machine candy bar, you could save 220 calories per day.

For the 5 Remaining Katherine's Commandments, including Losing weight by enjoying a daily Chocolate Sundae...


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Proper Hydration for Surviving the Heat and Preventing Heat Stroke

July 24, 2013

I'll never forget volunteering at the Marine Corps Marathon's Finish Line Emergency Tent. The experience was horrifying and exhilarating at the same time. The dedicated medical specialists who came from around the world to speak at the marathon's scientific conference the day before were amazing (I was fortunate to be one of the speakers); their expertise and dedication saved many lives at the marathon.

But what is seared in my brain forever are the exhausted runners stumbling into the emergency tent on the verge of death.

Forced into the ice water baths, several doctors surrounding each ice bath tub, struggling to get IVs into the runners to save their lives: The runners were experiencing HEAT STROKE! They were frighteningly disoriented: delicate young women and huge, strong men were screaming, cursing, defecating (the room reeked); they couldn't remember their own names, let alone birth dates. After some time in the painful icy water, once their body temperatures were lowered, they were whisked off in waiting ambulances to nearby hospitals. Everyone survived that day!

The Most Essential Nutrient: Water

Nutrients don’t only come in the form of food; water is the most important and often most forgotten nutrient. You can last a long time without food, but only days without water. Your lean body mass contains about 70 to 75% water, with fat containing much less, or about 10 – 40% water. Because of increased muscle mass, men’s and athletes’ bodies contain more water than women, overweight, or older persons, because of their proportionately lower muscle and higher fat content.

 Water is:

  • The solvent for important biochemical reactions, supplying nutrients and removing waste,
  • Essential for maintaining blood circulation throughout your body,
  • The maintainer of body temperature: As you exercise, your metabolism and your internal body temperature increase. Water carries the heat away from your internal organs, where it can do serious damage (leading to heat stroke and even death) through your bloodstream to your skin, causing you to sweat. As you sweat and the sweat evaporates, this allows you to cool off and maintain a healthy body temperature, optimal functioning, and health.

Daily water intake must be balanced with losses to maintain total body water. Losing body water can adversely affect your functioning and health. Once you are thirsty, you’ve probably lost about 1% of your body water and are dehydrated. With a 2% water loss, you could experience serious fatigue and cardiovascular impairments. It’s important to note that individual fluid needs differ depending on your sweat rate, the temperature, clothing, humidity, and other factors.

For life-saving tips on water, sports drinks, and home-made concoctions to survive the hea ...


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