balance

Tips to Resist Halloween Candy

You know the scariest thing about Halloween? The average trick-or-treater consumes 3 cups of sugar and up to 7000 calories on Halloween night! It’s hard, as adults waiting around with big bowls of candy, to resist nibbling on a Reese’s cup here and a KitKat there. And, even worse, if you don’t get many trick-or-treaters you may fall victim to the left over candy for weeks to come. Now that’s spooky!

But, don’t fear because I have a few tricks up my sleeve for helping you resist the candy temptation and keep your health and fitness goals on track.

1. Buy candy you don’t like- Don’t want to be tempted? Don’t buy candy you like. If you are a sucker for chocolate but hate hard candy,  buy jolly ranchers. Hard candy also tends to have fewer calories and takes a longer to consume– which leads to less consumption over all. If you can’t stand chocolate, load up on Hershey’s bars. That way it won’t be hard to resist your treats.

2. Discard or Donate candy after the last trick-or-treater: I know, I know “you don’t want to waste the candy” but seriously, all those calories will be wasted in your body anyway. If you really can’t bring yourself to throw it away and/or if you are feeling philanthropic donate your candy to troops over seas. If you have kids of trick or treating age you can have them donate their candy as well.

3. Make a deal with yourself- I’m all about moderation and sometimes allowing yourself to have just one or two pieces of candy can help you resist mindlessly eating the left overs. After all, one fun size candy bar is not going to derail your goals and the fact that you are not completely denying yourself may make it easier for you to stay on track. However, limit yourself to one or two small pieces of your FAVORITE candy and then keep your hand out of the candy bowl for the rest of the night. If you know one candy is likely to lead to a binge of more, it may be better to skip this tip

4. Get some exercise in- Whether you go to the gym or spend time running or walking around your neighborhood, burning a few extra calories will help you set the tone of your day as a healthy one. Not to mention that vigorous exercise has been shown to suppress appetite.

5. Chew gum- Chewing gum is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth with few calories. Also chances are, if you have gum in your mouth you will be less likely to cram other Halloween goodies in it!

Hope you like these tips have a safe, happy and healthy Halloween!

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Fit Bit: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

A line of new activity trackers have popped up– these trackers will tell you, how many miles and steps you walked, how many calories you burned, how many times you passed the “active” threshold and even how well you slept. Fit bit, Jawbone, and Body Media are a few brands that offer these devices.

I recently purchased the fit bit for myself. Since I am in off season, I am trying to bulk and I thought the fit bit would be a good way to track approximately how many calories I was burning so I could eat at a small surplus.

I had purchased a body media a few years before but it died after a few months and so did the replacement so I decided to try something new this time.

I was super excited to get my fit bit in the mail I even posted to my instagram @valeriewiest

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The first couple of days were really neat– there was a big difference in the number of steps I walked and calories burned on days when I taught classes vs. just working at the office or staying at home. It was great for setting a baseline to see how many calories I burned each day. I also found out that I burn lots more calories when I am on vacation even when I am not intentionally working out. In the past I have always felt that I have to cut way back on my eating when I am not officially “working out” so it was nice to realize that I could relax a little about that aspect. The sleep tracking feature is also really cool, you have to make sure you set it to sleep mode when you are going to bed, but it lets you know how many total hours you slept as well as how many minutes your were restless or awake. My favorite feature of all  is the silent alarm, which buzzes on your wrist waking you up gently each morning or discretely reminding you of tasks throughout the day.

Overall I think that most of the information you need to know can be gained from wearing the fit bit a week or two and noticing patterns in your activity level. Then using this information to adjust your eating and exercise habits to meet your goals. For example, since I am trying to build muscle, I need to eat at a surplus so it is important for me to know that on the days I teach classes I need to eat a little more because I am burning more calories. But once I know this, tracking everything daily didn’t matter that much since my schedule is pretty regular so I could expect the same patterns in activity to repeat.

After a few weeks with the fit bit, though, I was singing its praises. It has lasted longer that my body media, even though there are a few things I liked about my Body Media better (please leave a comment if you would like a comparison of the two devices). I felt like it was exactly what most people need to find out how many calories they are burning and avoid eating too much or too little. I think it also helps encourage people to be more active– take the stairs, walk vs. drive etc.

That is, until I started talking with one of my clients who is a therapist. She told me that a lot of people become addicted to the device in a bad way. They obsess over the numbers the fit bit displays and it can actually make them feel bad about themselves. Users may try to increase their steps or their calories burned each day forcing themselves to set higher and higher limits. Others, who can’t or won’t change their lifestyle start to feel bad about the numbers and feel that they are not good enough.

Once she said this I immediately realized how using a fit bit this way could be a problem for some. I wanted to throw it out there in case any of you have started noticing this with the use of this type of device. If you do, the therapist recommends leaving the device with a friend who you can trust for a week and seeing how it makes you feel.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried one of these devices? Did you like it?

Coming Clean: How I overcame Anorexia

Hey guys!

Hope you are having a good week. I wanted to come clean about something. I have struggled with anorexia. Not so much recently, but about 7 years ago (Eeek I can’t believe its already been that long) I was hospitalized for my disorder. I was afraid to say something about my eating disorder on this blog because I don’t want it to taint my image and set myself up for criticism. I don’t want to have people make assumptions about my choices and judge me unfairly. I know that fitness competitions can be a slippery slope into eating disorders but I am confident I will not let that happen. I actually think my history makes me more resilient in that respect. The reason I decided to come clean now is because I want to be honest with you. I want you to know where I am coming from as a competitor and as a person. I also want to be able to help anyone who is currently struggling with an eating disorder. I want to show you that there is hope after anorexia.

How did it happen? I could literally write a book on this topic. I don’t think there is any one thing I could point to and say “you see, that is the cause of my anorexia.” What I do know is that I started by slimming down for prom and then continued to avoid the freshman fifteen and then I got completed sucked down the rabbit hole and became obsessed with losing weight.

By the time I was hospitalized I was completely miserable: I could barely walk up stairs, I was cold all the time, My hunger pangs kept me awake at night and I was on death’s doorstep, literally. I had to be admitted immediately due to my low weight. I was in the process of seeking help for anorexia but I was not prepared to drop everything and spend a month inpatient at a “mental institute.” Although I was devastated at first, I was also ready to get better. I had reached a point where living the way I was living was scarier to me than gaining weight. People call this hitting rock bottom and I am not sure that my recovery would have been successful had I not hit it.

 

Although hitting rock bottom was the first step, recovery was and continues to be a journey. I think there were 4 important landmarks on my road to recovery and I will share them with you:

1. “Why are you afraid to be fat?” That’s what one of the nurses at the hospital asked me the day that I was admitted. It was before I got to the eating disorder unit so I think this was just a regular nurse trying to understand why someone would take a diet to these kind of extremes when most people have trouble sticking to theirs. This question haunted me throughout my stay at the hospital because I could never really come up with a good answer to it and the more I searched for an answer the more I realized that anorexia did not make sense.

2. Changing my mindset – In the hospital I told myself to imagine that I was gaining weight for a movie role. Actresses earn Oscars for their dedication to changing dress sizes, I figured that if I look at gaining weight in a positive light it would make things easier. It did.

3. Strength Training – I am not saying that this works for everyone because maybe some people used strength training as part of their disorder but for me, getting stronger and gaining muscle was another goal that allowed me to see the benefits of fueling my body with healthy food and gaining weight.

4. Being a mom – Something about taking care of a little person that I created forced me to put my needs second. Suddenly my body was not my top priority, my son was. Taking care of my baby made me realize that I was capable of putting things before my diet and exercise regimen and helped bring balance to my life.

I have been in recovery now for 7 years and cannot say that I have had a relapse ever. The prospect of ending up where I was before I entered the hospital is far too terrifying. I have too much to live for now. My mindset has changed and I feel I have become a more balanced healthy person. I now know that I could never have the body I want or be the person I want to be by starving myself. The one thing I wish I could shake is this shame I feel for my journey. I hate sharing that I had anorexia because I don’t want eyes on me at every meal or when I am trying to exercise. I want to live without that kind of judgement. But if I can help one person with my story, it is worth it to me to come clean.

Do you have any secrets that you are afraid to come out about? Have you struggled with an eating disorder?