BetterU – Week 5 Information & Action Steps

Welcome to week 5 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)

Week 5

Week 5 focus: Weight control for your heart

As you will see in the BetterU program book (which you are hopefully making time to sit down and explore and fill out weekly) this week we are talking about achieving a healthy BMI through weight management. Yes, how to lose weight, but in a healthy way without dieting! Below is the information from the American Heart Association BetterU program, the AHA website and some tips from Chef Kirsten. Tip from Chef Kirsten: I know a little bit about this – I lost over 100 pounds and have maintained my weight loss for over 6 years, without dieting. These lessons and tips can help you do the same in a heart healthy way!

Body Mass Index: What is it? How can I control mine? 

  • This is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. BMIs are good indicators of healthy or unhealthy weights for adult men and women, regardless of body frame size. A BMI of less than 25 indicates a healthy weight. A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity. Want to find out what your BMI is? Click over here for an easy calculator!
  • Excess weight increases the heart’s work. It also raises blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can make diabetes more likely to develop, too. Losing as few as 10 pounds can lower your heart disease risk.

The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight go far beyond improved energy and smaller clothing sizes. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you are also likely to enjoy these quality-of-life factors too.

  • Fewer joint and muscle pains
  • Greater ability to join in desired activities
  • Better regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
  • Reduced burden on your heart and circulatory system
  • Better sleep patterns
  • More effective metabolism of sugars and carbohydrates
  • Reduced risk for heart disease and certain cancers

It does not matter how slow you go…so long as you don’t stop.

The Power To Change! 

If your BMI indicates overweight or obese don’t be discouraged! You are working on it  by eating appropriate portions of healthy foods and moving your body more – this will help you move that number in the right direction over time for good! Remember: a healthy weight doesn’t always equal a healthy heart. At any weight, physical fitness can greatly improve your health  and lower your risk factors for heart disease, stroke and many other diseases. 

Weight Maintenance Without Calorie Counting (from Chef Kirsten):

  • Eat appropriate portions for your body.
  • Choose healthier foods, limit or eliminate processed foods
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits, aim for every meal and snack.
  • Move your body more, trying for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise. (Building up on what we have learned in all of the previous weeks)
  • Use the recommended guidelines from the American Heart Association when planning your meals and choosing which foods you put into your body:
    • Fruits and vegetables: at least 4.5 cups per day
    • Fish (preferably wild and oily): at least two 3.5 oz servings per week
    • Fiber-rich whole grains: 3-5 servings per day(3 if you’re looking for weight loss, 5 for larger frames, children and those maintaining their weight or if you indulge a bit on the weekends)
    • Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg per day. Simply cutting out processed foods and adding just a pinch of salt at the beginning of cooking helps you achieve this.
    • Added sugars: No more than 450 calories per week. A little honey or maple syrup in your oats, some stevia in your coffee or tea, a homemade muffin a couple of times per week.
    • Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings per week.
    • Processed meats: No more than 2 servings per week, preferably none. Including lunch meats.
    • Saturated fat: Less than 7% of your calories. (For an 1,800 calorie diet no more than 12.6 grams of saturated fat per day.)

Activate Weight Loss! While the focus of this program isn’t on the numbers on the scale, if you are wanting to get those excess pounds off, or if you are stuck at a plateau, these tips will help! Remember: this is not one-size-fits-all. If you are experiencing gain or a plateau or lack of energy over several months and you are doing all of these things, please seek out help from a doctor or dietician or nutritionist or nutrition consultant.

  • Move more. Every movement burns calories.
  • Increase the intensity of what you already do. You burn calories faster if you pick up the pace.
  • Don’t “reward” a workout with food.
  • Go for a walk to help fight non-hunger urges to eat.
  • Keep track of your physical activity in your journal.
  • Watch your portions. Pre-portion your meals and snacks.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Go for water first.
  • Pay attention to hunger. Eat before you get too hungry. Stop eating before you feel too full. Hara Hachi Bunme: Eat until you are 80% full.
  • Keep track of your eating in your journal. Be HONEST with yourself. If you’re sharing this information with your doctor, nutritionist, etc. be honest. They can’t help if you’re not being honest about your food intake and choices.

Traps and Trip-Ups

Emotions, situations, places or even people can influence you to get off track. Recognize and address these triggers to less-healthy choices. For example, you may want cookies when you get stressed or avoid physical activity when you’re tired.

Journal your traps and trip-ups. Nightime eater? Emotional eater? Cravings? Bored? Write down your strategy for dealing with this the next time it happens by making a list of other things you’ll do if you’re having a craving or battling over eating or not working out. Remember: Even if you can’t control the situation, you can control your choices. Journal even when you make a not-so healthy choice so you can recognize what may have led you to make that choice.

Common Roadblocks and Solutions:

  • I get hungry between meals and end up buying unhealthy snacks.  Always keep low-calorie heart-healthy foods around. Use a shopping list, and don’t shop when you’re hungry.
  • If I go to a buffet, I just can’t control how much I eat. First, try not to choose buffets often. But if you must, take one minute at a time while you are in front of the buffet table and remind yourself how hard you are working to lose weight. Put a small portion on your plate and don’t go back for seconds. Believe that you can do it and you will!
  • I usually grab something on the way home from work because I am so tired, I don’t feel like cooking. Plan your meals a week at a time over the weekends and cook partial meals then so that you have most of your meal prepared and only need to heat it up and add finishing touches.
  • I can’t seem to resist my cravings for sweets and salty foods. When you start having a craving, drink a tall glass of water. Fooling your stomach into thinking it’s full can guide you past the craving. JOURNAL. More on this and Chef Kirsten’s tips later
  • I love dessert. I can’t give it up! You don’t have to give up anything! Simply making healthier swaps and learn to allow yourself the power to choose to not eat as much. When you crave a high-calorie food, eat a small amount and forget about it, instead of resisting until you give in and gorge on it. If you don’t trust yourself with just a little, don’t eat any at all.
  • I don’t like working out. It’s boring. Stay active! Don’t give up on your physical activity plan. Find an exercise partner or exercise class to help you stay interested. Refresh yourself on Weeks 3 & 4.

Lapsing and Relapsing

A lapse is a small mistake or return to old habits. This can happen when you have a bad day and overeat or skip exercise. A relapse is when you go back to old habits for several days or weeks.

Remember that having a lapse or relapse is not failing. You can get back on track. Think about whether you feel hunger (gnawing in your stomach) or urges (mental cravings for food). When you feel an urge, set a timer for 15 minutes and wait, or do something else before eating. This will teach you to be in control of your desire for food. Try to use other ways to respond to life’s stresses besides eating. Take a brisk walk, start a new hobby or calm yourself with stress-management techniques.

Cravings and Handling Emotional Eating

Checklist for eating when you are not hungry from Chef Kirsten:

This is an important tool for us, but also to help our kids recognize why they may want to eat and not get into a cycle of emotional eating. If you’re planning your meals ahead of time, eating high quality food in the proper amounts and still wanting to eat when you’re not hungry ask yourself:

  • Am I truly hungry? On a scale of 1-10 how hungry am I? (If you’re truly hungry then have a healthy snack! If not, go on.)
  • Am I actually thirsty instead? Go drink a full glass of water and wait 20 minutes before deciding if you really need to eat.
  • Am I eating because I’m bored?
  • Am I eating because of another emotional reason? Journal instead.
  • How will I feel if I eat this (fill in the blank)? Do I want to feel this way?
  • What can I do instead of eating to make myself feel good?
  • How do I want to feel? Full? Stuffed? Light? Guilty? Proud? Satisfied?

Dealing with cravings from Chef Kirsten:

Cravings can be the end of many well-intended healthy lifestyle changes and the beginning of month long binges for thousands of people! When you find yourself with a craving here is some help:

  1. Identify where the craving is coming from. Is it a nutrition deficiency? For many of us, this is the cause. Cravings are our body’s way of telling us we need something. Sometimes it is proper nourishment, other times it is stress causing the craving and our brain is looking for a quick fix serotonin boost. Sometimes we need to go deeper and delve into our emotional reasons for cravings. This is when we journal then call a friend, go online for support, identify the problem without “stuffing” our emotions with food.
  2. After identifying why you may be having the craving and determining it is not nutritional or emotional eating, give yourself “permission to give in.” While I don’t believe in labeling “bad” foods, (I think there is a place in even a healthy lifestyle for an occasional treat), when we tell ourselves “I can’t have that” it seems to make that craving for the foods that give the quickest boost, like junk food, even worse. When I recognize that I want something I tell myself I can have it…as long as I have something healthier first. Most of the time I find I am completely satisfied after my healthy snack and a big glass of water. Don’t keep unhealthy foods you crave in the house. If you have to go out for it you’re less likely to give in to the craving.
  3. Eat to keep cravings at bay. I find when I stay well nourished and eat every 3-4 hours, my cravings pretty much go away. As soon as I have a few more processed indulgences than normal they seem to flare back up. When I research the countries with the least diet related disease and weight issues, here are the common threads: a healthy diet, appreciation for wonderful real food, eating often (not denying or depriving food) and enjoying a small sweet treats from time to time. Sounds like a pretty wonderful life, right? This is the lifestyle I have adapted and in the process I lost over 100 pounds and have kept it off for over 6 years now, without dieting or depriving.

 Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Week 5 Action Items

Action items from the BetterU program book,  plus a couple of extra recommendations from me:

  • Track your success. Whether you use an app, a computer program or a good old-fashioned little notebook (my personal preference because I don’t make the time to sit down to log everything in, but is great to do to begin with to get an idea of calorie intake.) Just write it down. Write down your activity and your food intake. Get in this habit for accountability and to be able to look back to see where you may be having some slip-ups and identify why.
  • This week is about finding out what your traps and trip-ups are. Write down what your traps and trip-ups are and make a list of healthier ways you can deal with them next time. Make a promise to yourself and to upholding your BIG vision. It’s your life, you’re the one in control of it and the one that has to live with your choices! You CAN change and you WILL change if you believe you can and DO IT!
  • Focus on the POSITIVE! One of the participants this week let us know that she completely changed her mindset when she was slipping into that negative self-talk and starting to doubt herself or her achievements so far. She said immediately she turned that around and started thinking positive things and she noticed how immediately she felt different. YES! Find what makes YOU turn around when you’re heading down Negative Alley….this is a DEAD-END ROAD. Find motivational books, images, whatever it takes to help you get back down Positive Lane. If you have someone in your life that tends to be a bit (or a lot) toxic and constantly is sharing negative things and is causing you to feel the same way: if it is a family member well, you can’t cut them out but you can remind yourself that it is all of THEIR negativity, they may have some reasons why they feel that way and you can try to understand them, but YOU have the choice of whether you will let it affect YOU. You may have to just keep the positive thoughts and images coming more often and try to find more positive people to be around. Turn to the group for support! If it is someone that you can choose to not be around, let them know that their negativity is bringing you down and you are choosing to not be around them because if it. To further help yourself with this…
  • Teach what you are learning! This is a great way to help yourself as well! When you are helping others you are focusing on the positive things they are doing, no matter how small they are. Every single positive choice is a step in the right direction and when you’re helping another person you focus on that and it also helps keep you accountable to yourself, you naturally want to do better to be a great role-model! Grab a friend or family member and ask if they want to go on this journey with you and if you can be a part of helping them live a healthier life. I’m sure we can think of someone we can pick up the phone and call once a week to let them know about what you learned and encourage them for the positive changes they are making.
  • Make time to make your log and review it.

Activity goals:

  • Keep up your goal of achieving 150 minutes of physical activity every week!
  • Celebrate your successes so far!

Nutrition goals:

  • Keep up the great work on what you’re already doing! Small changes can have a big impact on your numbers!
  • Add one new healthy thing you want to try this week (got water intake down? Try eating one more vegetarian meal this week; doing great getting the right servings of the right foods? Try looking for a few new recipes you’re excited to try that are within your skill level. The internet is FULL of ideas for everyone!)
  • This week at the meeting I went over some healthy cooking tips and some easy recipes. I encourage you to check out a new healthy cookbook from the library or even purchase one that has you excited to try some of the recipes. There are recipes and cookbooks for every skill level. Make your food taste exciting!
  • Keep sitting down once a week to meal plan and schedule your activity. Again this is a HUGE KEY TO SUCCESS!

Week 5 Highlights

  • We are hearing from so many of the participants that are feeling so much better than they did just 4 weeks ago! They are incorporating new healthy habits and breaking old habits every week and whether the number on the scale is moving or not, they are doing fabulous and achieving a healthy new lifestyle!
  • Kirsten’s recipe of the week: Greek Chicken Saute!  This is quick and easy, full of TONS of flavor, veggies and lean chicken! Give it a try!
  • I have to share this beautiful comment from one of the participants that is just doing fantastic. She’s “got it”. I asked her to share her secret to this phenomenal motivation and this is what she shared: “I have been thinking my ahh haa moment was when I got my long term goal in my head. Sure I want to be able to play better with my grand kids and yes better health is important to me as well however I kept having this image of an athlete within myself one longing to get out be better daily active . I had nearly given up on this then I started saying to myself : I AM an athlete. I AM going to win the prize. I AM winning through movement. I AM winning through healthy foods . Sometime I will stumble but I AM working toward my goal .” 

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 5 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center


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