Category Archives: Weight Concerns

Nutrition With Intention


Assess your readiness

The first step to any weight loss challenge or journey needs to be an honest assessment of readiness to make these changes possible. How many days do you typically engage in 45-60 minutes of physical activity right now? Do you already keep track of how much exercise you get on a weekly basis? Do you find ways to get around exercise? Or, do you set goals, ask friends and family for help, and make back up plans and think of the benefits to exercise?

With food and nutrition how many fruits and vegetables do you currently take in? Do you think you can or will eat at least or more than 5 servings a day within the next six months? Are you aware of the benefits of eating more nutritiously? Do you set reminders for yourself and stay positive around variety and options? If you get off track for a snack or a meal can you turn this around quickly and not forgo the entire endeavor?

Establishing goals & taking first steps

The tried-and-true method to drop weight does exist. It’s a matter of mathematics, and it requires eating fewer calories and incorporating regular exercise. I advise clients and patients set realistic goals and add to them each week or month. Small dietary changes are more likely to stick, as are types of exercise you enjoy.

The creation of goal lists has always been a favorite strategy of mine. I believe it’s a setup for success.

A shorter goal list might look like this:

      1. Eat something within 2 hours of waking and consider this breakfast.
      2. Increase fruit and vegetable intake to 5 servings a day with each serving about the size of your fist.
      3. Maintain fluid intake at 1 liter while attempting to increase to 2 or more liters a day.
      4. Begin tracking food and exercise using a free online tool or by purchasing yourself a Fitbit or similar device.
      5. Allow dessert 3 days a week, using appropriate portion size.
      6. Spend 5 minutes on Sunday night setting 4 or more appointments with yourself for exercise during the next week. Try for 30-40 minutes of your favorite activity.
      7. Set a time to follow up with yourself in 30 days to assess the above goal list and perhaps enlist the help of a partner or friend.

Words to leave out

My clients laugh when I ask them not to ‘should’ on themselves or anyone else. Telling yourself ‘I should exercise 5 days a week,’ often leads to the next statement of ‘This week is a waste as I only got to the gym twice’. Also, if you eat a cookie it is not a bad day. If you eat a piece of cake or drink a regular soda or souped up special large coffee, it not a failure. Calories do add up over 7 days, 4 weeks, and 12 months, but movement and exercise combined with diligence and your best eating is ultimately the path to success. So take these words away from anything to do with food, exercise, well-being: should, fat, failure, disgusting, etc. (you know where I’m going with this)!

Eating with intention

Intention is a powerful tool. This is why I named this newsletter ‘Nutrition with Intention’. Ask yourself how you intend to eat versus how you resolve to eat. Intention is more indicative of success. It overshadows the ‘I will’ with an ‘I am’ attitude toward eating healthy. Creating a focus on behaviors can be a simple as using an 8″diner plate and filling it half with vegetables or fruits at every meal. Remove trigger foods from the home and help control portion sizes by purchasing smaller sizes of favorite foods.

Want to know how real dietitians eat? Follow them and food trends by checking out Alternatively another RDN I know of photographed and blogged her eating every day for a year last year. I especially enjoyed her last entry where she wrote about how being hydrated daily was such a big part of how she felt every day. Click here for a link to her blog.

Eating nutritiously and exercising regularly can sometimes – not always – be challenging but they don’t have to be complicated! Read on for the morsel on exercise I found more than inspiring in 2014!


Joyful, Competent Holiday Eating

The holiday season is a time when I often hear clients expecting to gain weight. I have seen patients and clients who plan for a 5 to 10 pound weight gain between Thanksgiving and the New Year! Other clients try to lose weight during the holiday season, which is not an easy task. Weight loss attempts over the holidays can be unsuccessful.

With weight loss attempts over the holidays, I encourage clients who have progressed on a weight loss journey to continue this process through the holidays by incorporating careful monitoring of caloric intake and increase activity. Research shows that obese and overweight adults are likely to gain five times more weight over Thanksgiving alone than people of normal weight. How can you help yourself enjoy holiday eating without veering too far off track?

Feasible Strategies

A study published recently found that a small group of mostly women who had already finished a 12-week weight loss program and were also involved in a 12-month weight loss program gained less weight than people not involved in any type of weight loss or exercise program. The study determined that holiday self-monitoring emphasizing reduced sedentary behaviors was necessary for continued weight loss, or at least maintenance of weight loss, over the holiday period.

Keep motivated with exercise over this time by participating in 5K holiday runs. Visit to find events near you. Even if you walk instead of run, you will feel good by supporting local causes and enjoy social aspects of the event. Ask friends and family to participate with you. Exercising with another person can help keep commitments.

Competent Eating

Often we read discussions and suggestions about mindful eating. The term ‘competent eating’ can be just as powerful. Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and licensed social worker, has spent over 30 years working with patients who have distorted eating attitudes and poor dieting practices. She suggests that ‘To be competent with eating, emphasize permission and discipline: the permission to choose enjoyable food and eat it in satisfying amounts, and the discipline to have regular and reliable meals and snacks and pay attention while you eat.’

In a recent newsletter she wrote titled ‘The Joy of Eating,’ she states ‘You may worry that such permission will send your eating out of control. Not so. Being able to eat foods you like in satisfying amounts give order and stability to eating. Foods that are no longer forbidden become ordinary foods that you can eat in ordinary ways.’ A link to this article on Ellyn’s website can be found here.

Tools That Work

While it may seem tedious, tracking caloric intake can be a gift in disguise over the holiday season. Multiple smartphone and computer apps are available to allow us to assist tracking caloric intake. Fitbits can be a wonderful gift to yourself or someone else just for this reason. If you are trying to stick to weight loss or weight maintenance choose one of these tools and use it on most days between now and January 15th. Most clients tell me later how enlightening this activity has been for them.

That written, watch out for programs or apps that suggest very low calorie counts per day. Some of the more valid website are,,, and Another option is to purchase a three-month Weight Watchers online membership for this time of year. A lot of my clients end up tracking their intake up until dinner and then go into the last meal of the day knowing how many calories they can ingest, and where those calories should come from.

Another great tool to understand how much to eat in a day is to use Find the Daily Food Plan tool, enter your information, and print out what will work for you on a daily basis. Check your health insurance website for benefits such as offerings of a Fitbit. Many corporations are offering these types of devices and / or similar programs to employees as part of their health or wellness benefits.

Get Moving

Winter holiday weight gain is often linked to a decline in physical activity levels. One of the best pieces of advice I have been able to impart to clients and one that I practice myself, is this: make appointments with yourself to exercise. Spend 5 minutes on a Sunday night setting 5 appointments over a 7-day period for 5 hours of combined aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Knowing that life will take over and you’ll only get to four of these appointments in a week, still schedule five. You’ll be amazed at how this can become a habit. In a recent study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine researchers reported that men who burned about 500 calories during 47 minutes of vigorous exercise continued to burn about 225 additional calories over the next 18.5 hours compared to a day in which they did not exercise. This is an example of how calories burned in one session can be helpful throughout the day.

I am hopeful that some of these practices of competent eating or exercise can add balance to your life within the holiday season. Whether you are looking to lose weight or maintain your weight remember you are not alone.

The best gift to yourself is confidence and the knowledge that goals can and will be reached with balanced, healthful eating and exercise intentions. Onward!