Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Love Every Part of Your Body

Have you ever been on a diet? How many times? If you’re like most of us the answer is probably, “I start a new one every morning!”

One study found that 86% of Americans want to lose weight. (i) Really? 86% of us are not happy with our shape?

With 66% of Americans fighting overweight issues (ii), it does make sense that many are struggling to lose those extra pounds. Of course we want to be healthy, but do we really have to look like a model?

As LDS men and women we are blessed to know that we are children of God and He loves us. That alone should be enough to make us feel good about ourselves. He wants us to be happy and I believe He also wants us to be healthy so we can accomplish all that we can during our sojourn on earth.

But to be healthy and accomplish our work we also have to stop comparing ourselves to others. Let’s take charge of our health and love the body we're in. The really cool thing about embracing your shape and unique beauty is if you feel good about yourself it will be easier to improve your health and lose weight.

Ideas to help you love your shape and size:

1. Bury the scale under your laundry pile - try to focus more on how your clothes are fitting and how you feel. If you want a true indicator of improvement try a fat percentage test or measure yourself regularly with a tape measure.

2. Lift weights in front of a mirror (it’s okay to do this in a tank top, at least if you’re in your bedroom without your teenagers laughing at you) - watch how your muscles contract and realize that you are strong and beautiful.

3. Don't compare yourself - Everyone has their own strengths. It might be easy for your friend to stay thin, but maybe she couldn't lift her 95-pound ten-year old and carry him to the doctor when he broke his arm (that was a proud moment). Try to compliment and be happy for other people instead of letting that darn jealousy take over. Looking for the best in others will help you feel better about yourself too.

4. Pray – We’ve been instructed to pray over our fields, flocks, homes, etc. I think it is also important to pray about overcoming food addictions, to pray for help in finding the time and energy to exercise and improve our health, and to pray for confidence. The Lord wants us to be happy. Turn to him and He will fulfill those needs.

5. Exercise - whenever you allow negativity to creep in, go on a walk or bike ride, turn on some music and dance, drop and do twenty pushups, try some yoga moves. Make yourself move. The endorphins will start dancing with you and you really will feel better. (iii)

6. Fake it until you make it. I know this seems, well, fake. But I promise if you put a smile on your face and pretend to love your body, you can change your attitude and eventually the smile will feel more natural than the frown.

7. Be grateful for the health you've got. Whenever I'm on a run and want to quit I tell myself, "Some people would give anything to be able to run and they can't." Focus on the blessings of being able to move, breathe, and serve your family, neighbors, and those in need with your healthy body.

8. Write down the things you love about your body. If you get a bit depressed about the dimples on your thighs (please tell me someone else has those too) focus instead on how toned your calves look or the fact that your biceps are responding to all those curls.

Focus on taking care of your body and I promise your body will love you back.

Cami Checketts is a wife, mother, author, and exercise scientist. For exercise routines, please refer to her blog – Her latest novel, The Sister Pact, will be released in July 2009.

i. Addressing Body Image in Eating Disorder Treatment

Author: Meghan Vivo

Date: 3/11/2009

An Interview with Anna Treacy, MPH, NCHES

ii. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

iii. The Most Important Exercise Tip By Robin Lloyd, Special to LiveScience

Link to this post -

Friday, August 21, 2009

Posture and Weight Loss

It's amazing the effect posture can have on a person's confidence, success level, and how other people perceive them.

Studies have proven that people with good posture look ten pounds lighter, and now they've discovered that good posture can help you lose weight quicker.

So how do you get good posture?

It's easy to say, "Stand up straight." But sometimes if you're in the habit of slouching or you are bent over a computer or baby all day it is almost painful to stand up straight. If that's the case you need to strengthen your back muscles (seated row, bent-over row, lat pull-down, etc.) and stretch your chest muscles. My favorite chest stretch is to place hands at shoulder level on a door frame, then lean forward through the open door. You must hold a stretch for 26 seconds for it to be effective.

Another thing that helps as you're focusing on improving your posture is to do visual checks in a mirror and think through the aspects of good posture.

Head in alignment with spine - Michael Colgan offers this advice - push your tongue against the spot where the back of your teeth and the roof of your mouth connect, it will naturally straighten you.

Shoulders down and back - think about contracting shoulder blades together rather than thrusting them back and chest forward

Hips tucked under - tighten your bum slightly

Abs in tight

I sit slouched in my chair typing this list. I'm headed to do a visual check and see if I can't look ten pounds thinner!

Hope you all have a fabulous day,


Monday, August 10, 2009

Lose Weight for Life

Stockton split his ear in two last night. It was so sad. Stitches and Momma up holding him all night. This morning he peed in one of my heater vents. I guess he was sick of all the positive attention!

Today, I'm posting an article about the best weight loss secret around.

97% of dieters gain back their weight within five years. (i) Obviously Atkins, The South Beach Diet, the cabbage diet, etc. are not lifelong solutions to maintaining a healthy weight. There is a better way. A magic formula that I like to call - Strength Training.

Doesn't that just sound miraculous? Too many women are afraid of weights. I’ve heard numerous excuses, but the most frequent are: I don’t know how to lift weights and I don’t want to bulk up. The fact of the matter is: Most women couldn’t bulk up even if they wanted to (we lack the testosterone levels) and if you are one of those rare women who does bulk up: watch your calorie intake and don’t do max-outs or lift heavy weights and then drop them and you’ll be fine.

The excuse that you don’t know how to lift weights is valid, but easily fixed. Buy a book on weight-lifting, look online for advice, hire a personal trainer or follow my blog and save yourself the cash!

Lifting weights increases your metabolism more than anything else you can do. If you diet you will probably lose weight, but then your metabolism will drop because there's less of you to maintain. Then you must keep decreasing food intake to maintain your new weight. It's a vicious, unhappy circle. Not that you shouldn't eat right to lose weight, but if you diet alone it will be really hard to keep losing/maintain.

Cardiovascular exercise is a great thing, but it will also make you more efficient and decrease your metabolism slightly because all your body systems are working better. So, you can lose weight with cardio, but then you will probably plateau and have to increase the duration/intensity of your cardio to keep losing. This is why you see women who walk or do aerobics for years and never reach their ideal weight. Just like diet, cardio is an important factor in losing weight, but done alone it is a tough way to lose weight.

Which brings us to my favorite solution - weight lifting. As you lift you increase your muscle size and density and voila - your metabolism increases because muscle is hard to maintain. So then you're burning calories even when you're sitting. The keys are to lift regularly (at least twice a week), lift slowly (especially on the lengthening or eccentric phase of the lift) and lift heavy enough weights (8-20 pound dumbbells).

One warning - you will probably gain weight as you start lifting. You're increasing the muscle mass and density, but it takes longer to start burning off the fat. Please give it at least three months. 

Also, you have to eat small, healthy meals (lots of veggies, fruit, high-fiber carbs, lean meats, and low-fat dairy) and do cardio (preferably intervals, the best cardio around for burning fat). If you incorporate all three aspects and stick with it, you'll see results.

Please let me know if you have any questions about strength training?

Hope you all have a great day,


(i) Obesity and Weight Loss Maintaining a Healthy Weight by Dr. Deborah Wilson -

Friday, August 7, 2009

Book Giveaway - The Sister Pact

The contest for a free copy of The Sister Pact ends tomorrow. Don't forget to enter -

Good luck!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Treat Control

I wanted to post on something that I thought of the entire drive home from California. Wish I would've thought of it during my trip so I didn't eat so much! I'm wondering when a treat stopped being a treat? My Memphis will grab a bowl of ice cream as a snack and you all know my issues with chocolate addiction! So at our house we're trying to make a treat into a special occasion not a daily splurge (or two or three times a day). Here are some suggestions that will hopefully help us all.

1 – When do you truly enjoy a treat? I’ve found that I don’t savor a treat if I eat it in a party setting. I’m too focused on the social aspect of the party and I consume treats mindlessly. I’ve made it a point to only eat treats when I’m with my family or alone and can focus on the sensation and delight of each bite.

2 – Of course holidays are special times for treats, pie on Thanksgiving, sugar cookies on Valentines. But how about adding some healthy traditions to holidays. A walk after Thanksgiving dinner or a flag football game with the extended family. A dance-a-thon on Valentine’s or a family wrestling match. For my three sons, nothing says love like a kicking, biting, hitting wrestling match.

3 – Don’t keep treats in the house. Go out for an ice cream cone or a slice of pie. Make a treat a special time to be with those you love, not just a convenient thing to grab out of the fridge. (I had to throw my 5-quart container of ice cream in the trash to write this article. Maybe if I hurry I can pull it back out before it thaws.)

4 – Eat fruit as dessert. Great way to satisfy your sweet tooth with something healthy. I try to steer away from fruit juice because of the extra calories. In Prevention Magazine they claimed that reducing “liquid calories” is five times more effective for weight loss than cutting back on calories from solid foods. So if you can, eat the whole food.

5 – If you absolutely must have a treat, try a small ice cream cone or a couple of wrapped chocolates like Dove Promises. Yum! I find sometimes it’s better for me to have a small portion of a treat I’m really craving rather than eating everything in the pantry and still feeling unsatisfied.

Please add any ideas you have that help you and your family to make treats special and rare!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Baby Steps

How many times have you decided you are going to change your life? Get organized, start exercising, drop the treats and add the fiber, etc. etc. I get on one of these rampages every few months (usually after we've been on vacation!). But I've found that it never works for me to tackle everything at once.

It’s smart to begin with one change at a time. Small differences can add up to big results. Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to rule or completely change your lifestyle. Baby steps are the key to making lifelong changes. Instead of losing weight with a crash diet – which always comes back on – or starting an ambitious exercise program and getting injured or burned out, take it slow and change one thing at a time.

One change a month is a great goal. In a month you can make something into a long-term habit and if you concentrate on one goal you won't be so overwhelmed.

For example:
January - make a goal to eat five servings of fruits/veggies a day.
February - outline a plan to lift weights twice a week.
March – decide to use only child-sized plates and bowls to force yourself into eating smaller portions.
April - convince your family to go for an after dinner bike ride or walk. We have a jar of healthy activities. We draw one every night (or that's the goal at least).
May - trade white bread for high fiber bread.

Our main goal should be healthy and fit for life not just a desire to lose weight because we have a trip or class reunion coming. So go write on your calendar what your next month’s goal is going to be. I write my monthly goals on my desk calendar then I’m reminded of them many times a day. This month the goal is running. I've got a half-marathon on the 29th so I'm logging at least twenty-five miles a week. My poor legs are tired!

What's your latest fitness/health goal?