It’s that time of year again. The time for New Year’s resolutions, and for a lot of you that means going on some sort of diet. Many of us yearly vow to lose weight, however, most of us somehow end up doing the opposite of what we intend to and by the following year have somehow managed to gain weight rather than lose it. And then the cycle starts all over again…thus after many years of yoyo dieting we end up fatter than ever and frustrated at our apparent inability to do anything about it. What am I doing wrong you ask? While there are many possible answers to that question here are some basic tips that as a food scientist, and an observer of many a bad diet, I have come up with.
Tip 1: Beware of the “magic bullet”. We hear about them all the time on the radio, TV, or internet. Yes, you know what I’m talking about, a magical pill or drink you take which makes pounds just melt away with absolutely no effort. Just keep eating at McDonald’s for every meal and continue sitting around playing World of Warcraft for twelve hours every night and take this happy little pill and all your fat will disappear- sound too good to be true? Well, it probably is.
Tip 2: Beware of any diet product that tells you, “No eating or lifestyle changes necessary.” This goes hand in hand with tip 1, once again they are telling you to go ahead, eat a whole pie every night and sit glued to the TV for hours at a time; you will still be able to miraculously lose weight. While this may appeal to many of you, the unfortunate truth is that in order to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF you DO need to change your eating habits and you DO need to change your lifestyle. I know, the truth can hurt, but that’s just the way it is. Even if there is some amazing pill out there that can make you drop the pounds with absolutely no effort on your part (which I highly doubt), are you going to keep taking that pill for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? If not, then eventually your poor eating habits and life style are going to catch up with you and you will gain the weight back, and then some. And you will be worse off than where you started from and more frustrated than ever.
Tip 3: Beware of the fad diet. These are always coming and going-the so called newest and best way to lose weight. Remember the fat free craze back in the 90’s? Or more recently, the carb free craze? These popular diets come and go. Don’t substitute sound nutrition for some new diet fad that in a year or two will be all but forgotten.
Tip 4: Beware of any diet that focuses on consuming hard to find foods or food items that have to be purchased specially. The key to any successful diet is that the eating and exercise habits you establish while on the diet have to be transferable to your life permanently; otherwise you will eventually gain the weight back. A good diet should focus on “normal” healthy food that is found and purchased easily.
Tip 5: This goes along with tip 4. Beware of any diet that centers on consuming one food over and over again in replacement for a meal or normal food. For instance, if your diet consists of drinking the same diet shake every morning for breakfast, what is eventually going to happen? You are going to get sick of having that same shake over and over and you will need/want to go back to eating normal food. If you haven’t changed your eating habits in general than going back to normal food is going to mean gaining weight for you.
Tip 6: Quick fixes don’t last. We’ve all heard the diet product commercials that claim you can lose 10 pounds in one week. Sure, we would all like to lose weight quickly and effortlessly. But the truth is that our bodies resist weight changes. If you lose weight too fast your body will protest and the end result will be gaining back even more weight than you started with. In order to make weight loss permanent and healthy you really should only lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. This does mean you will have to be patient and not expect dramatic immediate results but it also means that you won’t be right back where you started next year.
Tip 7: Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you can never enjoy the foods you love again because you are on a diet-that just isn’t the case. Cutting the foods you love out altogether is really not necessary or desirable. If your favorite treat is donuts, enjoy a donut once in a while; just don’t have them for breakfast every morning. A wise professor once told me, “There is no such thing as a junk food, only a junk diet.” Any food can be part of a healthy diet if we eat it in moderation.
Tip 8: Every attempt to lose weight should include exercise! We lose weight by expending more calories than we consume. Exercise is a great way to increase how many calories we burn. It has the added benefit of increasing our lean body mass, which in turn also boosts our caloric consumption. But exercise does much more for us than just that. Those good ol’ endorphins make us feel good, not to mention the sense of accomplishment that generally accompanies exercise. And our heart will thank us.
But why does exercise have such a bad rep? Many of us avoid exercise like it was the plaque. The key is to make your form of exercise something that you really enjoy doing. Exercise does not have to be a chore. Jason and I love to go mountain biking, hiking, play soccer and racquetball, and snowboard. Though these are great forms of exercise, they are also a lot of fun for us. So if going to the gym really isn’t you thing-don’t go to the gym. Find something you love and stick with it.
Jason on a sunny winter run.
Finding an exercise partner can also greatly increase your exercise success. Not only will they make exercise more enjoyable but they will keep you from making excuses not to exercise. Jason is my partner in crime and I am very grateful he is such an active person.
Excercise makes me happy!
Tip 9: Don’t let the media convince you that you need to look like a super model. Not only is that a pretty impossible goal for most of us, usually it’s really not a healthy goal either. Your goal weight should be healthy and realistic.
Tip 10: Try replacing fattier dairy products for lower fat options. Try using skim or 1% milk instead of 2% and eating low fat or fat-free yogurt. This is a relatively easy change to make. You will get used to the taste of the lower fat options and soon will prefer them over the higher fat alternatives.
In the end, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your eating habits and lifestyle altogether. You need to change the way you think about food. Change how and what you eat, and become a lot more active. And you need to change all this in a sustainable, permanent way. A “diet” that we stick to only until we reach our goal weight will never be successful because going back to our old eating habits means going back to our old weight. Also, it is important to think about what you are including in your diet not just what you are excluding. Fruits and vegetables should be consumed a plenty. Whole grains should be substituted for refined flours. Have health be your goal not just weight loss.
It may take longer to lose weight this way and it will take effort. But it could mean the difference between “Lose Weight” being on your new year’s resolution list next year again- or not.
Every year the Hugheses host a New Year’s party with a different country theme; this year the country was Greece. So I decided to make me and Jason some ten minute togas (actually they were called something else by the Greeks but I don’t remember what it was). With a little ribbon, heat fusible Velcro, and cording, sheets became togas in just a few minutes.
Jas and Rae in their Greek attire.
They weren’t exactly the most sophisticated togas but they worked nicely over our clothing and were easily removed and shared (all the non-toga wearers wanted a little toga action too).
Feeding the men some grapes.
The party was fun, thanks Hugheses for once again hosting! We ended up playing Rock Band until 5 in the morning (not wearing the togas). It turned out to be quite an addicting game and we hope to play again soon! (Yes, Cameron feel free to invite us over to rock with you.)
The manly men.
The Sabins went on a little tubing adventure at Soldiers’ Hollow for Kara’s birthday. It was a beautiful and surprisingly warm day for this activity.
We all had to unzip our coats and remove layers of winter gear because we were getting too sweaty (even me, the human icebox).
Hills o’ Sabin
Soldiers’ Hollow wasn’t especially busy the day we went so we were allowed to join all of our tubes into one giant clump. With 8 tubes connected together each trip down the hill was a little crazy and inevitably involved Jeremy kicking as much snow into everyone’s faces as possible. (He’s a Sabin-what more can I say.)
Clump of Sabins
Aaron Blakely also joined us for this tubing extravaganza. Aaron, I’m sorry you had to tolerate so many Sabins all at once!
Breaking Aaron’s Back
A few weeks ago Jason and I were at Target purchasing a random assortment of items and amongst these items was a case of non-alcoholic malted beverage, aka O’Doul’s, aka near beer. Yes, as a Nelson I grew up on that stuff and am quite partial to it! It isn’t sweet so it doesn’t send me into sugar shock and it is actually healthier for you than most beverages. So I was purchasing some and the checker said the oddest thing to me and Jason. She said, “Are you sure this doesn’t really have alcohol in it? Maybe I need to see a Bishop’s note.” She was half joking but the fact that she even made such a comment to a random customer made me think for a moment that perhaps I had entered the Twilight zone. And then I remembered I was in Orem, Utah, which is pretty darn close.
This got me thinking about Utah and why, despite its cultural oddities and religious uniformity, I like it so gosh darn much.
For some reason Utahans don’t seem too proud to be from this fine state. This may be the result of too many experiences of telling others you are from Utah and getting the inevitable question, “So how many wives does your husband have.” While this question reveals the questioner’s obvious lack of intelligence, we Utahans tend to still find this experience insulting and we cannot fathom why we are so misunderstood as a state. So while those from Texas, New York, and California boast of their origins-we mumble a somewhat inaudible response to that dreaded question.
Next time you Utahans get asked where you are from I would suggest you answer “Utah” with pride. And here is why:
Our humble state now boasts a population of 2.4 million; this number is expected to increase to 5.4 million by 2050. Our state’s current growth rate is 6th highest in the nation. Most of you are thinking that this growth is surely due to the staggering number of children the residents of Utah seem to have. However, currently nearly half of Utah’s population increase is due to people migrating here. People WANT to live in Utah. How could this be you ask? Well, it turns out Utah is actually a pretty fabulous place. Our unemployment rate is the 3rd lowest in the nation and our rate of job growth is 1st (yes, we are number 1). Last year nearly 50,000 new jobs were created in Utah, which equates to a 4% increase. That is quadruple the national average. Way to go Utah! Utah also ranked number 1 in the nation in 2007 for personal income increase, which is another marker of economic activity expansion.
But those aren’t the only categories we ranked number 1 in. Our housing prices increased by 12.9% in 2007. That puts us also at number 1 in the nation for home price increases. Now, I can hear several of you whining. How could the increase of housing prices be good? Well, for those of you that own a house the answer should be fairly obvious. Duh, it means more equity for you. In contrast to many parts of the country were the housing market has slumped and many home owners have lost tremendous amounts of money as a result, home owners here are making money off their property investments and they should all be happy. For those of you who do not own a home there is still something for you to be happy about. The average price for a single family home in Utah is only $206,000. This is still a doable amount for most first time home owners, and is a far cry from the costly home prices in California or the east coast.
We are not just wealthy however, we are also healthy. The life expectancy in Utah is 3rd highest in the country. The average Utahan lives to be 78.6 years. And according to the America’s Health: State Health Rankings: 2004 Utah is the 5th healthiest state. More kudos to Utah!
The real reason I love Utah has nothing to do with our booming economy or the state of our health however. Where else can you snowboard or ski on the greatest snow on earth? You can snowboard, ski, snowmobile, and tube in the winter and enjoy wakeboarding and other water sports in the summer. The summer also brings opportunities for mountain biking and hiking in our beautiful mountains (real mountains not those hills found back east). But we not only have striking mountains we also have unique vistas unlike those seen anywhere else on earth. Bryce Canyon, Arches, Zion’s, Canyonlands, and Capital Reef are all full of distinctive and sometimes bizarre beauty. Our diverse and singular landscapes have resulted in Utah being home to more national parks than any other state, with only two exceptions (Alaska and California). Along with our national parks we also have many national monuments, such as Timpanogos Cave and Dead Horse Point. We also have the world famous Slick Rock Trail.
Rae in Zions National Park
I would encourage all of you Utahans to explore your fine state. You live in an area with all sorts of recreational opportunities and uncommon beauty. Jason and I are always finding new “favorite” places to bike, hike, and board.
On Christmas Eve this year we had a snow storm and I woke up Christmas morning to pristine snow covered mountains and a bright contrasting blue sky with wisps of clouds. It was gorgeous and a clear reminder of just what I love about Utah!
So I hope next time you get asked where you are from you will answer, “Utah, the most awesome state there is!” even if you have to add, “And I only have one wife!”
P.S. While Utahans do have more kids than those in any other state, our average is only 2.54. So that whole 15 kid misconception really needs to go away. And the men here really only have ONE wife (if they can even get that)!
Jas biking in American Fork Canyon
I just finished wrapping Jason’s last present, the last Christmas present I have to wrap this year. I must admit he is rather spoiled. As usual, our Christmas tree looks like it was the victim of a Christmas present explosion. But since I rather like that man, it’s fun to spoil him a bit, even if he ends up with more presents than Dudley Dursley.
I hope ya’ll have a Christmas that is super fab!