Tag: weight loss (page 1 of 12)

Weight loss after 50: What’s your Easter weakness?

Dear Wendy,

Well, it’s here again. Easter Sunday, which in this house used to mean hiding caches of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs around the back yard, then sending the kids out with their baskets on an egg-hunting free-for-all.


I’m ready to go. Just point me at the chocolate.

These days, we still celebrate the holiday with chocolate, though probably not as much of it; and our kids no longer leap out of bed at half-past-oh-God-what-time-is-it? to rush down to the dining room table in search of their giant chocolate bunnies in nests of shredded paper.

Still, there’s no denying it: ’tis the season for chocolate.

And even though those foil-wrapped eggs aren’t exactly Godiva quality, there’s something about the way they melt on the tongue…let’s just say that I find them hard to resist.

So I won’t even try.

Yes, you heard me. I know, I’m watching my weight, and chocolate isn’t exactly diet food, but I figure that if I can’t allow myself a bit of chocolate on Easter Sunday, I’m doing something very wrong.

After all, holidays happen, and food is an integral part of most holiday festivities. If I had to sit out the fun, pinching my lips together to keep myself from popping one of those delicious little morsels into my mouth, I know how I’d feel: isolated, left out, and pissed off.

Because really, denying myself the occasional treat would mean that I’d crossed the line from “watching my food intake” to “policing myself”…and is that really how I want to live the rest of my life?

I’ll answer that: Nope, it is not.

So. Chocolate it is, then. But here’s the deal I make with myself: I’ll eat the minimum amount I need to feel satisfied. And as I always do, I’ll write it down (okay, to be strictly honest, I’ll type it into my food tracking program on my phone).

By the end of Sunday, I expect I’ll have exceeded my usual calorie allotment by a few hundred calories…and that will be okay. Because on Monday, I’ll be back in the saddle again, my chocolate-noshing day behind me. At least until next Easter.

I know you’re a fan of jelly beans around this time of year. How will you be handling your holiday treat situation? Inquiring minds want to know!




Weight loss after 50: Kick-ass breakfasts keep you on track all day

Dear Wendy,

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: when our health teachers insisted that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they were not in any way kidding. A great high-protein breakfast not only gives you the energy you need, but it makes it much easier to sail through the dreaded late afternoon munchies.

A couple of years ago I was having real trouble getting through the afternoons, even though I was doing all the things I was supposed to: I was eating 3 meals of at least 350 calories apiece, and 2 or 3 snacks of at least 150 calories. I was making sure not to go too long without eating—3 hours at the very most.

But still, I found that about an hour after my afternoon snack, my stomach would start growling, and it was really tough to hang in until suppertime.


Nothing happens without this.

I went over my food diary with my nutritionist, and he spotted the problem immediately: my breakfasts were kind of wimpy in the protein department. He suggested I bump up the protein component to at least 20 grams. I was skeptical, as I couldn’t see how what I ate first thing in the morning could possibly affect how I felt by late afternoon.

But I did it anyway…and the results were almost instantaneous.

Building a healthy, high-protein breakfast turned out to be less of a challenge than I’d feared, so I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite recipes with you. Keep in mind that my brain doesn’t really kick into gear until after my first (or sometimes second) cup of coffee, so I prefer to keep my breakfasts simple to prepare.

Breakfast 1: High-protein oatmeal

This is my current favourite. I use either steel-cut oats (which takes longer to cook, but has a nice nutty flavour) or a blend of old-fashioned oats (not the instant kind), rye, barley, spelt, millet, flaxseed, and quinoa. But I think any whole-grain oat would do quite nicely.

  • 1/3 c. oatmeal
  • Water to cook, as per package directions
  • 1 scoop of whey protein powder
  • 3/4 cup of frozen raspberries (or fresh, if they’re in season)

I cook the oatmeal according to directions—4 minutes in the microwave for the oat/grain blend, 15 minutes for the steel-cut oats. Then I stir in the scoop of whey protein (the brand I use has 30 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar). If the mixture is too sticky, I add a tablespoon or two of 1% milk. Then I stir in the raspberries.

I’m not adding a picture, because the mixture looks vile, and you’d immediately be convinced that a) I’ve lost my ever-lovin’ mind, and b) you would never eat that in a million gazillion years. But it actually tastes great…and best of all, it staves off the late-afternoon munchies.

Breakfast 2: High-protein cold cereal


Rachel calls this hamster food. I call it a great start to my day.


This one is even easier to prepare.

  • 1 cup high-protein cereal, like Kashi GoLean or GoLean Crunch
  • 1/3 cup 1% milk (because I think skim milk is gross)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat, no-sugar Greek-style yogurt (beware the flavoured ones, which often contain sugar)
  • 3/4 cup berries, or a sliced peach, or whatever takes my fancy that day

I’m not going to spell out the preparation here. I think we can figure it out, right?

I know some people who like to get their morning protein in the form of smoothies, and that’s fine too. Whatever works for you.

But my point is: eat protein, as much as you can, within an hour or so of waking up. You’ll thank yourself later in the day.





Weight loss after 50: You’re not failing, your diet is.

Dear Wendy,

alt="IMAGE-diet-fix-yoni-freedhoff"Last week I mentioned that I was reading Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s book, The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work.

Well, I whipped through that book in record time, in part because it’s written in such a friendly, accessible style, and in part because I found its overall message really compelling and inspiring.

We all know that most diets fail. The statistics are pretty grim: among people who do manage to lose their excess weight, about 95% regain every pound, often with interest. If any other medical treatment had that kind of failure record, it would have been outlawed years ago…and yet people keep embarking on diets, hoping against hope that this time they’ll succeed in keeping the weight off.

So whose fault is this?

Some blame the diets—whether low-fat, low-carb, no-gluten, no-sugar, no-yeast, or whatever else is currently in style. Others (many others) blame the dieters for their presumed laziness and lack of willpower. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard, “Just eat less and move more, and you’ll lose the weight,” I’d be a wealthy woman.

The thing is, while we’re told that losing weight ought to be easy, most of us have a great deal of experience that tells us it’s really not. We can come to believe that the fault lies in ourselves, in not wanting it badly enough, or not having the inner fortitude to buckle down and just lose the weight.

Dr. Freedhoff takes a very different approach. He starts from the premise that diets that are overly focused on restriction are by nature traumatic. And most people who’ve tried to lose weight repeatedly with these diets suffer from something he calls “Post-traumatic Dieting Disorder” or PTDD, the result of years of failed dietary efforts that leave us demoralized, discouraged, guilty, and ashamed.

PTDD symptoms can include feelings of ineffectiveness, shame, hopelessness, and a sense of being permanently damaged. Sufferers often have poor body image, and may withdraw socially, feel threatened by food (especially high-calorie treats), or have impaired relationships.

Moving beyond traumatic dieting

So what’s the solution? In the first half of the book, Dr. Freedhoff describes the “seven deadly sins” of dieting, followed by “dieting’s seven traumas”; and then he lays out a 10-step method for overcoming traumatic dieting and replacing it with a foundation of behaviours that he calls a “10-day reset” to change the dieter’s relationship with food.

Drawing on the habits and behaviours of those 5% of dieters who’ve actually managed to sustain significant weight loss over a 5-year span, the “reset” includes gearing up, learning to track your food, banishing hunger, cooking, thinking things through, exercising, learning to indulge realistically and sensibly, eating out, setting goals, and troubleshooting.

The second half of the book is an “everything else” section that includes a guide to resetting any weight-loss program—so long as you can imagine living with it for the rest of your life, Dr. Freedhoff states that it really doesn’t matter whether you choose paleo, low-carb, low-fat, Weight Watchers….any system can be reset, and made non-traumatic.

My one quibble with the book—and it’s a small one, overall—is the idea that the 10-step reset can be accomplished in 10 days. While some steps (learning to track your food, embarking on an exercise program) take little time, others (like learning the habit of cooking rather than relying on prepared foods) are more of a long-term thing for most people.

This is the most compassionate, practical, and ultimately useful book I’ve read on the topic of weight loss…and I’ve read a great many of them. Even if I weren’t one of Dr. Freedhoff’s former patients, I think I’d feel just as enthusiastic in recommending the book to anyone who wants to move past the “LOSE WEIGHT NOW!!” mentality of most popular diet programs, into a healthy lifestyle at a healthy weight…for the long haul.



Please note: I have not been offered any form of compensation for this book review. It represents my personal opinion and endorsement only.

Weight loss over 50: Why you won’t lose much weight with exercise alone

Dear Wendy,

If you’re like me, you learned early on in your weight loss career that it takes 3,500 calories to make a pound, right? And that it doesn’t much matter whether you reduce your intake by 3,500 calories, or bump up your exercise by that magical amount—either way, a pound is a pound is 3,500 calories.

Or so I thought, until fairly recently.

alt="IMAGE-diet-fix-yoni-freedhoff"I’ve been reading (would “devouring” be the right term?) Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s new book, The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work, and one of the myths he debunks is the old “fitness is more important than food for weight loss” chestnut.

As it turns out, he says, for a real person to lose a pound through exercise requires between 70–90 hours. While this makes zero sense mathematically, it has been borne out through scientific studies.

And it matches my own experience: before I reset my eating habits a couple of years ago, I was at my wits’ end. I’d lost a lot of weight, only to regain about 60% of it back. I was doing my best to stick to a lower-calorie diet, but the weight just wouldn’t budge, so I decided to exercise it away.

In my usual determined, gung-ho way, I threw myself into the job. I lifted weights. I walked briskly for miles (running is out for me, because of my hinky ankle). I did aerobics. And at the end of the month, I weighed myself, expecting my just reward for a job well done.

The needle on the scale had not moved.

What the hey-nonny? How is that even possible? After all, for years we’ve heard the mantra, “Just eat less and move more!” as a cure-all for obesity.

Dr. Freedhoff explains it thus:

Why doesn’t the math work in real life? Because we’re human.
Have you ever eaten anything “because you exercised”? An extra portion? A higher-calorie choice? A reward for your hard work? I sure have. Or have you ever been hungrier because you exercised? Me too! And once you start eating in response to your exercise, exercise’s weight benefits quickly disappear.

Well, that hardly seems fair, does it?

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be exercising as part of our weight loss efforts. Far from it! For one thing, exercise plays a huge role in keeping me both physically and mentally strong.

alt="IMAGE-fitness-class-zumba-wikimedia"Yes, sometimes I’m hungrier after a workout—so that’s when I have my planned snack (and I make sure it contains at least 10g of protein). But exercise also reminds me that I’m on the right track. That I’m doing good things for my body, stretching my limits, and staying healthier as I age.

According to the studies cited in the book (which I’m hoping to finish for next week so I can do a proper review), food intake accounts for between 70% and 90% of weight loss. However, it’s also been shown that people who maintain a regular fitness routine are far more likely to maintain their weight loss.

How many times have you heard, “It’s easy to lose weight; the tough part is maintaining”? Yeah, me too. And frankly, anything that will give me a boost in that direction—well, I’m all over it.




Weight loss after 50: In 2 minutes a day, you can double your weight loss

Dear Wendy,

Today I’d like to share one of the best tips I know for taking charge of our weight loss goals.

I’ve mentioned Dr. Yoni Freedhoff here before. He’s the medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute (BMI) here in Ottawa, and while I was a patient there I learned an  incredible amount from him and his staff.

Today’s hot tip comes from an article he wrote for the Globe and Mail last week:

alt="IMAGE-egg-timer"What if I told you that in just two minutes a day you can double your weight loss success? And, rest assured, those two minutes won’t be spent busting out painful sweat while a trainer yells at you, or over a hot stove cooking a gourmet vegan meal….Have two minutes? Use them this way to double your weight loss.

By the way, if you liked this article, Dr. Freedhoff has a book coming out from Random House next week: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work. (He’s not paying me to say this—I just happen to think he knows what he’s talking about.)

Hope you’re having a great weekend, and not chewing your nails to bloody stumps as you wait to become a grandmother!



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