Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Truth Behind the Non-Diet Diet

Hello! Wow, several months have passed since I last blogged, and I cannot believe how much has changed since then. Since my last entry in October 2011, I finished my fall semester in Fort Collins, moved to Crested Butte, and started student teaching in first grade five days a week. Throughout the winter I also babysat and taught snowboarding. I barely managed to have a life on the side. I am finishing my student teaching in three weeks, and now that the mountain has closed, I have a teensy bit of extra time on my hands. I can't stand having free time, so here I am, writing this entry instead of going to sleep. I had a burst of enthusiasm that I could not contain.

Some of you may be wondering if I am still living a healthy lifestyle despite all of those busy life-changing events. The answer is yes. Despite everything this winter, I have managed to fit in a full-body strength training workout at least once a week at the school gym. I went snowboarding at least twice a week. Furthermore, I burn a ton of calories teaching first grade!

More importantly, I have not allowed myself to diet. I am believer in the non-diet diet. What is that you ask? The non-diet is a diet that allows you to eat according to your physiological needs. Meaning, you eat when you are hungry and you stop when you are full. Furthermore, you eat food that fuels your body to have energy, stay well, and generally feel good about yourself. Now, does that mean that I have been perfect for the past 8 months or 2 years? No! Nobody is ever perfect! That is the whole point behind the non-diet. If you set yourself up to fail with rigid guidelines and unattainable goals, then chances are you will end up feeling bad about your self and drowning your sorrows in ice cream. Let me be clear about my non-perfectionism: I HAVE overeaten (in fact, I did last Saturday night!), I HAVE resorted to comfort food, and I HAVE thought about over-exercising to rid my body of calories. But, instead of beating myself up about these behaviors, I wake up the next morning and I start over. I move on. I let go. Most importantly, I try to tell my body what I love it for: it's ability to climb mountains, snowboard, run, jump on trampolines, and/or chase first graders all day. If you engage in the vicious cycle of eating, self-loathing, eating, chances are you will resort to food and once again feel bad about yourself.

 It has taken me a long time to reach this non-diet truth. I have read several books and articles on the topic (2 of them listed below) and I sincerely believe that not dieting leads to a stable weight over time (I have stayed the exact same weight since December 2010, give or take 3 pounds). However, for some people, food means everything. It defines who they are. It provides comfort when others cannot. Oftentimes (in fact, always), food issues are connected to underlying insecurities, trauma, sadness, depression, abandonment, abuse, etc (the psychology major in me is coming out!). If you can relate to some of these  things listed above, then chance are you will need more then this blog to cure you of these deep-rooted issues (I wish it were that easy!). To start, check out the books I have mentioned below and go from there. Emotions are complex, and so is food. Realizing that it's never easy is the first step in cutting yourself some slack.

If you need more convincing, here are two resources about the non-diet diet. I related to many of the topics addressed within these, but not all of them.  I hope you find them useful.
More blogs to come! Love, Dana

1. Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth (I just started listening to this on tape)
2. Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel (fast read - I couldn't put it down!)

Very interesting book about compulsive eating
Sad, honest, and hilarious memoir about one women's life-long battle with food 

This is a link to the most hilarious video about diets!! Check out her other funny videos. Thanks Kat for the showing me this very relevant video. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Old Fashion Gym Workout

I have not written in so long! I would say I'm sorry, but. . . I'm not! Life has been busy, but great, and unfortunately blogging has taken a back seat. This weekend, I am laying low in Fort Collins, and hopefully I can get a few entries pumped out (no pun intended).

This entry is designed to give you simple, easy-to-do moves in the gym. Many of them you can do outside of the gym, with a set of dumbbells.

I've organized it around 9 major muscle groups:

Upper Body:
1. Shoulders (deltoids)
2. Chest
3. Biceps
4. Triceps
5. Back
Lower Body:
6. Abdominals
7. Quadriceps (front thigh)
8. Hamstrings (back thigh)
9. Calves 

Note: In order to see results, strength training involves a complex relationship between the size of the weight and the number of reps. It also involves eating a well-rounded diet of whole natural foods and the proper amount of protein. Every individual is different in terms of current strength and goals, and therefore, I want to direct your attention to an additional resource:

This book allows each individual to design a program that works for THEM. If explains strength-training in a very straight forward way. If you are looking to lose weight, build muscle, and feel great, this book has all the information you need. I have a copy if you would like to borrow it!

Back to the gym. . .
With the help of my brother Sam (age 15, green shirt) and his friend Kirill (age 18, blue shirt), we got some photos at a recent trip to the gym in Boulder. Each move targets one or two of the major muscle groups, and should be easy to understand from the pictures.

Follow these moves for a full-body strength-training workout. More info at the end!
1. Lunge + Bicep Curl (working legs and arms)

Curl up as you lunge down
 2. Chest Press

 3. Squat with Bar (working back and lower body)

 4. Tricep Push-downs

5. Side Raises (shoulders)

Keep your arms bent as you raise them to shoulder level
 6. Leg Press (quads)

 7. One-Arm Dumbbell Row (back)

 8. Squat + Dumbbell Press (lower body and shoulders)

 9. Angled Calf Raises

 10. Lying Leg Curls (hamstrings)

 11. Crunches

Keep your eyes fixed on the ceiling and raise your shoulder blades off the floor
 11. Plank
Hold for one minute! Feel the burn.

What size weight should I start with, and how many reps should I do?
That depends on your current level of strength. Muscle builds after it is "ripped". The repair process builds the muscles, makes you stronger, and decreases fat. Pick up a weight that feels easy to do at first and try 12 reps.  If you are not fatigued at the end of 12 reps, try a heavier weight.

Body-For-Life would suggest the following:
Increase weight and decrease reps, then at the end of a set, increase the weight and the reps until you cannot life it another time. The goal is to max out! 

12 bicep curls with 8 lbs (50% intensity), rest a min, 
10 curls with 10 lbs (60% intensity), rest a min
8 reps with 12 lbs (70% intensity), rest a min
6 reps with 15 lbs (80%), rest a min
12 reps with 12 lbs NO REST
10 reps with 12 lbs (or something along those guidelines).

Again, I cannot emphasize enough that every individual is SO DIFFERENT in what they need. Therefore, I would check out the Body for Life book, or another resource that looks appealing to you. When I come across additional strength-training resources, I will write about them here.

What other questions do you have? This is such a huge topic and there is a lot of information to sort through. Let me know if something comes up for you, and I can try and answer it here. 

K, now stop reading and go work out!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Science Autobiography

This class project is a reflection of my experiences with science from elementary school until college. It makes connections between photographs and writing in order to give the reader a better idea of how science has been integrated into my life. The second half discusses my goals for teaching science in the elementary school classroom, as well as a final section on who I am as a person. Enjoy! 
Elementary School: My most memorable science fair project was a developmental study about my triplet brothers, who were 2 years old at the time. I compared and contrasted their rates of physical development and predicted how this might affect their future athleticism. 
Christmas 2009- Me, Justin, Brian, & Sam
Results of the study demonstrated that Sam reached most physical milestones before his brothers. For example, he sat up first, rolled over first, crawled first, etc. Sam was also the first born, and the largest, weighing 5 lbs at birth (compared to Brian (4 lbs) and Justin (3 lbs)). Today, this physical advantage is still apparent. He is the tallest and the most "buff". He plays football, he skies, he rides his bike uphill for amusement, and he lifts weights on a regular basis. I chose these pictures because they represent a major aspect of elementary school science AND they foreshadowed my future love of developmental psychology and education.
Grand Canyon 2010- Sam, Brian, Justin, and Mom

Middle School: Science in middle school was fun and more advanced than science in elementary school. For the first time, we had "real" science class for at least one period a day. A large focus throughout middle school was earth science. We had a sunflower unit, a geology unit, and many others. I chose this picture of a sunset for two reasons: it captures the earth theme, and it shows a brightness and joy for science that quickly went away in high school (like the fading glow of a sunset). . .

Summer, 2010: Granby, CO Sunset
High School Impressionist Tale: Once upon a time, there was a young girl who mildly enjoyed science. She preferred conducting experiments that related to real-world people and events. One year, she was told that she must study minute particles and the reactions between them. Because these particles had no emotions or souls, it was hard for the girl to understand the purpose of this field. Without a purpose, motivation lacked and her grades suffered. . . The year of minute particles (aka chemistry) was like walking in a world of fog. Nothing made sense, nothing was clear, and nothing stuck in her brain. Now, as a young adult, whenever she is forced to think about these emotion-less particles, she runs away as quickly as possible.

Mount Rainer, September 2009
College Science- After taking chemistry, I ruled out the possibility of majoring in any "hard sciences." I declared myself a psychology major, and I took Biology 101 to fulfill the science requirement. It wasn't until my senior year that I realized how much science is included within psychology. I learned all about the brain, and our physiological sensations and perceptions. Because this science related directly to my interest in psychology, I never feared it.

My favorite psychology class was "Experimental Analysis of Behavior and Learning". We trained rats in operant chambers and made direct correlations between their behavior and human behavior. We also discussed many other types of animals, including monkeys. This class eventually led to my interest in education and my senior thesis on the principles of Behaviorism in the classroom.
Washington D.C. Zoo- Monkey!
Washington D.C. Zoo- panda bear!

How do I envision myself as a future science teacher?
I have three goals as a future elementary school science teacher.
1) I want to provide my students with a solid foundation of skills that will enable them to succeed in middle school and beyond.
Crested Butte
 Without a solid foundation, one can never climb the mountain.
2) I want my students to develop a positive attitude towards science along with a feeling of self-efficacy. They should feel part of the "science club".
I developed doubts about science early on. For whatever reason, I never felt like a "scientist". When I was required to take higher-level classes, my negative attitude towards science hindered my perceived ability to understand difficult concepts. As a result, I will never become a doctor, an engineer, or a thousand other jobs that require me to take these difficult classes. I do not want my students to "be left out in the cold." I want them to feel as though they can become anything. A vet perhaps?

3) Lastly, I want students to make connections between in-class learning and real-world application. Science can help us solve (or destroy) our earth. We should use science to our advantage to improve the world around us.
Will we always have healthy fruit to eat?

Last Section: Who am I?
Like these mountains, I am complex being. I have good traits and bad traits. My interests change frequently, but the core of my personality remains the same: I am driven. I am happy. I have enthusiasm for life. Recently, I have enjoyed mountain biking, snowboarding, and blogging. I love reading. I try and live in the moment. I love to travel. I am passionate about psychology, and education, and I hope to pursue both fields during my lifetime. Lastly, I am obsessed with my dog, Oreo.
These two pictures capture my true essence:
Without supportive shoes, I would not be able to do the active things I enjoy doing each day. I've stopped here to enjoy the view.
I love comedy and I love to laugh. Dwight Schrute- funniest man on T.V. 

That's the end of my science autobiography. I hope you have a better idea of who I am and who I hope to become.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mindful Eating Contract

Why be original 24/7 when so many people have already come up with great things? With everything that is currently going on in my life (moving, starting fall classes, interning in a 5th grade classroom), I don't have time to come up with new and brilliant topics (not that my stuff is New or Brilliant, but you know what I mean). What I can make time for, however, is to write down other things that people have already written. That way, I save time, and everyone benefits.

So, here is something that I found from the book I mentioned last time- Eating Mindfully by Susan Albers, psy.d. It is called the Mindful Eating Contract, and it is a list of "rules" that you can apply to your own eating-related habits and thoughts.
Here, directly from the book (I love that blogs allow us to plagiarize), the Mindful Eating Contract (p.55):

1. I agree to eat mindfully. I will eat with diligent thought from this point forward. 

2. I agree to change my attitude toward eating completely, on a full-time basis. I understand that diets don't work. 

3. I agree to think about what I eat moment to moment. 

4. I agree to consider each bite on multiple levels by taking into account the taste, texture, quality, 
bodily reaction, and sensations I experience when I eat.

5. I agree to eliminate my diet mentality. I will do this by rejecting dieting advice and books, and by becoming nonjudgmental of myself. 

6. I agree to be nonjudgmental of other people's eating habits, weight, and body shape. 

7. I agree to have compassion for myself. 

8. I agree to be mindful of my speech. I will eliminate terms like "restricting" or "forbidden food" from my vocabulary, and I will start using words like healthy, organic, natural, and energizing, both in my thoughts and conversations. 

Go for a bike ride instead of stressing about food.
9. I agree that being healthy and living mindfully is my number one goal. 

10. I agree to accept myself and my body as is. 

11. I agree to be aware of the unique eating challenges I face.

12. I agree to accept how uncomfortable, scary, and wrong it feels to let go of dieting. 

Why do I like this? Well, it exemplifies how I try and think about food and my body each day. I went through long dieting phases in high school, and for the past four years or so, I have practiced letting go of that mentality. I can say that refocusing my attention from weight loss to overall health, has made me a healthier and happier person than before. If you find yourself constantly dieting or trying to change the way that you look, ask yourself "why"? Many of us believe that losing weight is the answer to everything. "If I were just ten pounds thinner, than so-and-so would like me." "If I looked like her, people would admire and respect me. . . ." Good and bad things happen to people of all shapes and sizes (example: super models poop, and they occasionally have diarrhea just like the rest of us). Think of the people in your own life who you love and respect. Do they have perfect bodies and perfect eating control at all times? No, they do not.
Mommy and Me- camping and EATING!
If you find yourself constantly under eating, overeating, or feeling guilty about food, it's time to check out some resources. Food is a necessity for life, and you must eat it in order to flourish and grow. Why be stressed about it when you don't have to be? Listen to your body, enjoy the food that you eat, and move on to bigger and better activities. Thoughts?
Talk to you soon!
Eat like a kid again- they know what's up.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eat When You're Hungry: Practicing Mindful Eating

Funny story: last week, when I was on my way to Crested Butte, I stopped at the bank to make a quick deposit (first deposit in a long time). After driving up to the ATM, I could not find my debit card. Hmm...Where could it be? I racked my brain for all the possible locations, realizing that I had not seen it since Saturday night. Instantly, I realized my card was still at the bar. Oops! It happens to the best of us. 

Luckily, Absinth House (the bar) happened to be right around the corner from my bank. I drove over, and to my dismay, realized that it didn’t open until 11 am (it was 9:45). As a way to kill time, I went to the public library, and searched for some new books on health and fitness (ironic that this is what I did after I had been “crazy” enough to leave my card at the bar). I found some awesome books that helped me find words to many of the jumbled, random thoughts in my head. 

One particular book has made me think a lot about mindful eating. In fact, it is called Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating & Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers, psy.d. This book defines mindful and mindless eating, and offers 46 different tips and strategies to help people develop a positive relationship with food. It does NOT advocate dieting. I am going to write about a few main points that I have been incorporating into my daily life. 

The first step to mindful eating: Eat when you’re Hungry. This may seem like an easy strategy. However, when battling the voices in your head, the plans of the day, and all the other factors that influence our eating, eating when you’re hungry can be very, very difficult.

Try this: throughout the day, notice when your stomach growls and feed it as soon as possible (you may need to bring snacks along if you anticipate hunger). When you reunite with this basic bodily function, you will find how often it occurs. Pick a healthy snack or meal, sit down with your food, and enjoy every bite of it. Do not wait until your hunger becomes unbearable, because this often leads to overeating and feelings of guilt. In fact, many health experts recommend eating five to six small meals a day, rather than three “square meals” a day. Here are a few scenarios (with strategies to help) when we tend to ignore our hunger:

Scenario 1: Dinner with Friends or Family
It’s 6:30 pm, and you have dinner reservations at your favorite restaurant at 8:00 pm. You are excited for fondue, but you are STARVING. What do you do? 

Dinner for Tallie's Birthday
Here’s my advice: have a small snack before you dine out. It’s not safe to wait because this may result in bingeing and mindless eating. I like to have a balanced snack of carbs and protein, like a banana with peanut butter, or yogurt with almonds (more snack ideas listed at the end). When you sit down to eat later that evening, you will be able to enjoy the ambience of the restaurant, and the company of friends, rather than eating as fast as possible.

Biking with Kat- Finding a Moment to Enjoy the View

Scenario #2: Battling Negative Thoughts:
Many of us have wanted to lose weight at some point in our lives. For whatever reasons, we are displeased with the way we look and feel. I’ve been there, and it makes eating when you’re hungry very challenging. Under-eating and avoiding food can result in many negative consequences. The first is that often leads to mindless eating later on. The second is that it makes losing weight difficult because your metabolism slows down as a way to preserve the calories that are in your body. In my own experience, I find that negative thoughts and criticisms ultimately lead me to overeat, rather than to lose weight. Remember, your body needs food no matter what. Try and find foods that are satisfying and healthy, and incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Starvation is no good, and it will lead to negative, rather than, positive outcomes. 

I hope these suggestions give you a starting point to begin thinking about mindful eating. I highly recommend this book (Eating Mindfully by Susan Albers), and would advise you to do a little research if this is a topic that interests you. I will likely write about mindful eating again in the future. For now, remember to eat when you’re hungry!

Healthy Snacks/Small Meals to Eat When You’re Hungry:
-       ½ avocado on a toasted English muffin
-       1 string cheese with 3-5 crackers
-       1 apple with peanut butter
-       1 banana with peanut butter
-       Yogurt with fruit and/or almonds
-       Turkey & cheese sandwich with tomatoes and cucumbers
-       Pita chips with hummus
-       Almonds with raisins and chocolate chips
-       1 Lara bar
-       Oatmeal with yogurt and peanut butter
-       1 hard-boiled egg with salt and pepper
-       Celery and carrots dipped in 1 tablespoon of dressing