Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Weight Loss Secrets: You’re Dieting Wrong

I’ve tried everything. Why doesn’t my diet work?

When you open your newsfeed, you see advertisements and personal testimonies from friends and family with weight-loss and dieting successes. That alone can be the motivation needed to give something new a try, but not everything works for everyone. Various weight-loss systems have time-sensitive supplements, complex counting systems, and other essential guidelines that you must follow strictly to be successful.

“Diets” Raise Questions and Lead to Failure

ThinkstockPhotos-503894126.jpgThe next fad diet may work, but what happens afterward? Do you continue that system forever? Should you follow a program designed for weight loss if you’re no longer trying to lose weight? Diets seem to always pose more questions than answers, and the “I’m going on a diet” phrase will inevitably lead to failure.

Most people will transition “off the diet” when they reach their target weight, eventually returning to the previous eating habits that initially caused the weight gain. This up and down continues the yo-yo weight-loss cycle. This is why “dieting” doesn’t work.

Some people can see results by making a few healthy choices or decreasing calories. Eventually everyone will hit a plateau, but the answer isn’t to further restrict nutrient intake. Long-term dieting can have a prolonged negative effect on metabolism, making it much more difficult for the body to use nutrients.

Most people prefer restrictive diets in which they decrease total calories or put a limitation on types of foods consumed. These include but are not limited to fat-free, sugar-free, no carbohydrates, gluten-free, or protein-free. Others try overindulgent diets in which they eat nothing but one type of food. These diets are like the cabbage soup diet, protein-only diets, or having nothing but juices or meal-replacement shakes. However, both restrictive and overindulgent diets contribute to inadequate essential nutrients.

Make a Healthy Lifestyle Change

Let’s be clear. A diet isn’t a restriction or an overconsumption of any foods. A diet consists of your daily intake of nutrients. To be successful this year, you need to ask yourself why you want to diet. Are you looking to temporarily lose weight, or are you looking for a long-term solution? If you’re looking for short-term weight loss, continue to check Facebook for inspiration. If you are ready to stop the yo-yo “dieting,” you are ready to make a healthy lifestyle change.

Rethink your daily diet to include foods that will satisfy your hunger and foods you’ll enjoy. Say goodbye to the old diet foods that you used to endure and say hello to flavorful, real, whole foods. Instead of depriving your body of the energy and fuel it desperately needs to function, feel free to eat a meal that consists of at least 300 calories. Just keep in mind that dieting alone never works for long. Take that as a sign to progress to the next step and gradually add activity and exercise into your daily routine.

Nutrition Help from NIFS

For more nutritional advice, a NIFS Registered Dietitian can help give you direction and focus your energy in a positive way. The My Nutrition Coach mobile app allows members to interact daily with a Registered Dietitian at NIFS. You will receive feedback, suggestions, and information on ways to improve your nutrition and help you achieve results.

To get started with My Nutrition Coach, contact NIFS Registered Dietitian Angie Scheetz at [email protected] or by phone at 317-274-3432 ext. 239. 

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Topics: nutrition weight loss NIFS apps diet and nutrition diet and exercise

NIFS Nutrition News: Beware of AdvoCare®, a message from Laura

In 2014, Laura Zavadil, one of our registered dietitians wrote a blog about her work with a corporate fitness client who had a bad experience with AdvoCare® products.  This blog has generated a lot of feedback, conversation, and comments. We want the readers to hear where she was coming from in sharing her opinion on the blog. We appreciate all the feedback and want to encourage positive dialog and sharing of opinions. Thank you for reading.
Check out this blog in regard to what's in your diet.  
Topics: diet and nutrition supplements nifs nutrition news

NIFS Nutrition News: Is It Possible to Do a “Safe” Juice Cleanse?

man using a juicerJuicing is the process of extracting juice from the flesh or the pulp of a fruit or vegetable. This technique has been used for hundreds of years as a way to maximize nutrient intake by drinking only the juice of various vegetables and fruits. I wanted to get the New Year off to a healthy start and reset my digestive system, so I researched how to complete a “safe” juice cleanse.

The idea of a juice cleanse is pretty simple: all meals and snacks are replaced with juices made from (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables for three to ten days. The main health advantage of a juice cleanse is based on the theory that our bodies are more efficient at metabolizing and excreting toxins when our digestive system is freed from the burden of digesting solid food.

Additional Benefits of Juicing

Here are some additional benefits of juicing:

  • It is an easy way to get your recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies.
  • Since your digestive system does not have to break down the pulp or flesh of the fruit or vegetables, your body rapidly absorbs the vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes, carbohydrates, chlorophyll, and phytonutrients. This is thought to boost your immune system and prevent disease.
  • Juicing experts believe these nutrients are better absorbed when separated from fiber (most juicers remove the pulp, aka fiber).  

Trying a Three-Day Juice Cleanse

After much research, I decided to try a three-day juice cleanse. It wasn’t the best three days of my life, but here are some of my observations:

  • There are many different juicing recipes to try, and most of them are pretty tasty!* (I discovered that lemon helps reduce the bitterness of dark, leafy greens like kale.)
  • After day two, my cravings for carbs/sweets were greatly reduced. (This was a nice surprise!)
  • Cleaning the produce and the juicer took a lot of work and time. (This got old very quickly as I am the mother of two small children and spend enough time preparing food and cleaning!)
  • My energy did increase, but the first day was rough…I was pretty hungry and grouchy.
  • After three days, I missed food, so I slowly added it back into my diet by eating meals that included whole fruits and veggies, lean protein, and some whole grains. My stomach would ache if I ate processed foods.
  • Even though weight loss was not my goal, I did lose several pounds of water weight. This was expected since our bodies require water to properly digest whole food; if you take away the whole food, your body doesn’t require as much water to complete the digestion process. This can translate to a drop on the scale. However, once you start eating whole food again, the water weight will come right back. (This is a major reason why weight loss should not be a main goal of a juice cleanse.
  • As a Registered Dietitian in corporate wellness, I would only recommend a juice cleanse for a maximum of three days as way to “jump start” habits of eating more whole foods and less processed items.

Disadvantages of Juice Cleanse

There are, however, disadvantages of juice cleanses. For example:

  • Juice cleanses that last longer than three days can cause extreme moodiness, irritability, depression, fatigue, constipation, constant/obsessive thoughts of food, and rebound overeating.
  • Individuals who take medication to regulate their blood sugar or blood pressure should be cautious and consult with their physician before beginning a juice cleanse. Blood sugar levels can quickly rise and fall when drinking juice, and a lack of solid food can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, or fainting.
  • Cleanses are strictly off limits to children or to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If your goal is to eat healthy, you don't need to juice as a way to cleanse or detox your body. Juicing can be an easy way to get in your greens (for instance, without having to eat fistfuls of kale), but juices should be used to complement a balanced diet that includes minimally processed foods, good-quality lean protein, and plenty of whole fruits and vegetables—which, ironically, are the real cleansers. The fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables act like a scrub brush for your digestive tract.

Juice Cleanses: Not a Long-Term Solution

Bottom line, although a juice cleanse could feel like a psychological jump-start to healthy eating, it is not a solution for long-term wellness. Simply put, being healthy is a lifestyle event, not a three- or ten-day adventure.

*Recipes were found on Reboot with Joe or in The Big Book of Juices by Natalie Savona.

Topics: nutrition weight loss antioxidants diet and nutrition energy level healthy diet juicing

NIFS Nutrition News: Beware of AdvoCare® Weight-Loss Supplements

food vs supplementThis time of year many people are looking to drop excess weight. In their desire to see rapid results, many start a supplement program such as AdvoCare®. I’m writing to warn individuals who may be interested in trying this particular program. First, I will describe the program before sharing my professional (and maybe blunt) opinion as a Registered Dietitian.

The AdvoCare® Weight-Loss Program

AdvoCare® offers a variety of supplements and weight-loss programs, with the 24-Day Challenge being the most popular program. The 24-Day Challenge is the most popular program because it supposedly helps people “get skinny” in just 24 days. The program consists of a 10-day “cleanse” phase followed by an additional 14 days of a “Max” phase. AdvoCare® advertisements claim that the supplements taken during the “cleanse” phase will rid your body of toxins and prepare your body to better absorb nutrients. These supplements include an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and an energy drink. According to AdvoCare®, these supplements will help jump-start your weight-loss efforts by ridding your body of water weight.

The “Max” phase consists of a “metabolic nutrition system,” which claims to increase metabolism, control your appetite, and support core nutrition when the user consumes meal-replacement drinks and more energy drinks. Additionally, this phases includes a meal plan that emphasizes lean proteins (such as ground turkey and chicken breast), non-starchy vegetables (such as asparagus, broccoli, and tomatoes), and complex carbs (such as whole grains, oatmeal, and quinoa).

Why the AdvoCare® 24-Day Challenge Is Bad For You

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let me break down the reasons why this particular AdvoCare® program should come with flashing signs that say “WARNING! DANGEROUS DIETARY HABITS AHEAD!”

  • The supplements included in the “cleanse” phase are quite simply glorified laxatives. Will this reduce your overall body weight? Sure…anything that purges your body of water will reduce your overall body weight. However, these supplements can create electrolyte imbalances within your body that can lead to serious complications, like a heart attack.
  • Any program that advocates the consumption of energy drinks should be considered potentially dangerous. The ingredients in energy drinks are NOT regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and contain artificial ingredients and stimulants. Last I checked, these particular foods are not considered to be a part of a “healthy” meal plan!
  • The meal plan in the “Max” phase claims to provide “core nutrition” without ever defining what this means. If you have to question the definition, it’s probably not a good idea.
  • The good thing about the meal is the emphasis on lean protein, complex carbs, and non-starchy vegetables. The bad thing about the meal plan is its lack of dairy and fruit, which fall far below the number of daily servings recommended by most nutrition professionals. No amount of supplements can replace the natural vitamins and nutrients you get from these foods.

Other Warning Signs About AdvoCare®

Those are my complaints as an RD; however, there are other warning signs that everyone should know. Numerous reports are popping up online in different forums warning other consumers about the safety of these supplements. People are reporting severe health complications such as gastric pains that require hospitalizations, organ failure, and adverse medication interactions. One of my own corporate wellness clients experienced a very serious medical scare while participating in the 24-Day Challenge. Not only did her blood pressure spike significantly during the program, but she also experienced kidney failure despite having no previous risk factors or pre-existing medical problems. Her doctor immediately told her to stop the supplements, and luckily her kidney function and blood-pressure levels were moving back toward normal after two weeks.

To be frank, I’m appalled that products like AdvoCare® are allowed to be sold in our country. It just demonstrates that although many supplements can benefit one’s health, they are not tested and regulated by the FDA.

I encourage anyone who wants to try AdvoCare® or a similar program to consider the warning signs of an unhealthy (and potentially dangerous) diet plan:

  1. If the claim of the program sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Supplements will NEVER replace the nutrient content of whole foods!
  3. Save your money and put it toward your grocery bill. Stock up on the healthy foods your body needs and you’ll be just fine.

The old-fashioned way of losing weight will never change: eat healthy and exercise. Simple, but true.

This blog was written by Laura Zavadil, RD, LDN

A message from the author.

Topics: nutrition weight loss diet and nutrition healthy diet supplements

Confessions of a Health Coach: A Recovering Perfectionist

peasI am a recovering perfectionist. It’s an ongoing struggle, but every day I get more comfortable with not being the best at everything. And every day, I feel a little happier because of this attitude. Here are my thoughts as to why.

From an early age, we are taught that 100 percent is the best. Those three numbers represent the perfect indication of success. We are encouraged to give 100 percent of our efforts and to be the best we can possibly be. Some people (myself included) misconstrue this message to  mean anything less than 100 percent is unacceptable.

All-or-Nothing Thinking Can Derail Your Health

As a wellness coach, I often see clients mirror these perfectionist tendencies. For example, some may think their diet is ruined because they ate a donut for breakfast and therefore make poor eating choices for their other meals. Others feel it is pointless to lace up their running shoes unless they have time for a 5-mile run, and stay in and watch TV instead of going for a 2-mile run.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists call this type of thinking an all-or-nothing cognitive distortion. It’s an unhealthy perspective for one simple reason: No one achieves 100 percent of their goals 100 percent of the time. No one.

For perfectionists who struggle to make healthy lifestyle choices (whether it be avoiding the vending machine at work or exercising a certain number of times per week), not achieving 100 percent of a goal can be discouraging, if not downright depressing. This is unfortunate because many people fail to give themselves credit for the healthy choices they do make.

The 65–85 Rule as It Applies to Fitness

My road to recovering from my all-or-nothing thinking patterns began with a simple rule:

          Aim to be successful 65 to 85 percent of the time.

I can just imagine the looks of disbelief from my fellow perfectionists. Give me a moment to explain why the 65–85 percent successful rule is such a beautiful thing.

  • It takes away the pressure. True perfectionists understand the crushing pressure of attempting to achieve that 100 percent mark all the time. Eliminating that pressure can actually make working toward the goal enjoyable.
  • It allows for life to happen. Kids get sick. You become injured. We must overcome any number of hurdles on a daily basis to eat healthy and exercise. Unfortunately, some hurdles are bigger and longer, and require more time and effort to overcome. By aiming to be 65–85% successful, you have a built-in cushion to accommodate life’s curve balls.
  • It is a good indication your goal is not too easy or not too hard. If you are 65–85 percent successful at your goal, I believe this means your goal is challenging enough to promote healthy behavior changes without being too difficult.

Personally, I believe adopting this 65–85 percent attitude has been one of best decisions of my life. I don’t beat myself up if I occasionally eat too much chocolate because I know I eat pretty darn healthy most of the time. If I only have time to run 3 miles instead of 6 because I feel unusually tired, I congratulate myself for getting out the door in the first place.

I’ve found that I’ve actually become healthier (and most importantly, happier) by letting go of my perfectionist thinking. I hope reading my thoughts will persuade you to try to do the same!

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Topics: motivation fitness diet and nutrition perfectionism cognitive distortion

Corporate Wellness: Obesity, is there a cure? (Part 3 of 3)

fruit juiceWhether we like it or not, we have an epidemic on our hands.  Whether you are overweight, obese or not, classifying obesity as a disease will affect you, if it hasn’t already.  Changes are in order.  Simply classifying obesity as a disease does not make the necessary changes automatically occur and I’ve already expressed my concern with the direction I think this could go. 

Fructose is processed in our bodies similarly to ethanol (alcohol).  Actually, chronic consumption of fructose shares 8 of the 12 side effects of chronic ethanol consumption. Fructose is like alcohol without the buzz.  How do you make alcohol?  Ferment sugar!   Due to the fact that fructose consumption has no immediate side effects, the government will not regulate it.  When the government won’t step in to make necessary changes, it becomes our responsibility. 

In 2007, Yale University published a meta-analysis of 88 cross-sectional and longitudinal studies looking at the effects of soda consumption.  They reported that consistent soda consumption correlates to an overall increase in average energy consumption (we eat more), increased body weight, decreased milk and calcium consumption, and decreased consumption of adequate nutrition.  This even included studies sponsored by major soft drink companies, which had consistently smaller correlations vs. the independent studies.  When the companies won’t admit fault and make changes, it becomes our responsibility. 

We must make the changes.  The supply won’t budge until the demand changes.

What are some things we can do?

  1. Lead by example.  Our friends, family members, kids and our kids’ kids will learn and copy from what we eat and drink.  Adopt a lifestyle of healthy, whole foods and consistent exercise.
  2. Get rid of sugar-sweetened beverages.  Fruit juice, Soda, Gatorade.  Wait, fruit juice?!  Isn’t that good for you?  Fruit juice is basically sugar and contains no fiber, unlike fresh fruit.  In 2008, a nurse’s study linked fruit juice consumption to type 2 diabetes.
  3. Increase your fiber intake.  Eat FRESH fruits and veggies.  This helps lessen your insulin response, especially when eating carbohydrates.  A more controlled insulin response reduces your chances for fat storage and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Wait 20 minutes before getting second helpings.  Leptin, a hormone responsible for telling our brains we are full, takes time to respond.
  5. Buy your screen time with activity.  Minute for minute.  This is a hard one but will help to increase your activity levels.  Screen time includes: computer, TV, texting and video games.
  6. Drink more water.  General recommendation is at least half your body weight in ounces each day.
  7. Control your immediate food environment (food in home, at desk, etc.).  If the “bad” food isn’t in the house, we’re less likely to eat it.  When grocery shopping, keep two things in mind: stick to the grocery list and shop around the perimeter.  Only go to the middle aisles for specific items on your list.
  8. Be aware of serving sizes, especially when we splurge.  The average size of the classic Coke has increased from 6.5oz in 1915, 12oz in 1960 to 20oz in 1992.  It’s ok to occasionally enjoy the good things in life but be very cautious not to overindulge.
  9. Have blood work done on a regular basis.  Know your numbers!
  10. Exercise!  Why is exercise important, especially in obesity?  I’ll give you a hint; it’s actually not the number of calories you burn.
  • Improves skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity (decreases insulin)
  • Reduces stress and resultant cortisol release (decreases appetite)
  • Makes TCA cycle run faster and detoxifies fructose, improving hepatic insulin sensitivity (higher metabolism)

If you missed parts 1 and 2, go back and read Is Obesity Really a Disease and How did we get overweight?

Topics: corporate wellness nifs fitness management obesity diet and nutrition