Monthly Archives: August 2015

Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight (even though you’re giving it your all)

The most common complaint I hear is that someone “just can’t lose weight”. They believe they’re doing all the right things and they’ve tried “everything” but the scale won’t budge. They’re frustrated and ready to give up. I’ve even been here myself, several times. So what’s going on?

Everyone knows how dieters can get stuck on a plateau that last forever or that chronic dieters have been dieting for so long that their bodies don’t burn calories efficiently anymore. But what are some other reasons you can’t lose weight?

There are lots of them! I’m going to share the ones I think are most common that we tend to ignore! Why do we ignore these? Well, sometimes we’re not even aware that they could be a problem, and for others, we prefer to go the “easy” route and delving into some of this stuff is a bit harder! Read on – you never know, your solution could be in one of these paragraphs.

A Few Reasons Why You Might Not be Losing Weight:

You have a hormonal or metabolic condition that makes it difficult for your body to burn fat or causes weight gain. Hypothyroidism, PCOS, Metabolic Syndrome, Cushing’s Syndrome and natural hormonal changes like Perimenopause and Menopause are just a few of the medical/physical conditions that can make weight loss seem impossible (and weight gain seem inevitable). If you suspect that you have a medical condition that is getting in the way of your goals, talk to your doctor. There are tests that can diagnose all of these conditions and treatments that can help! And the sooner you know if you are dealing with a medical condition, the more effective all your efforts will be.

 

-You have a food sensitivity. Food sensitivities can cause us to gain weight, but we usually don’t know we have one! Food sensitivities are not the same thing as a food allergy. If you have an actual allergy to a food, it will usually show up in a blood test or skin prick test that you can have done by an allergist. When someone eats a food that they are allergic to, the symptoms usually happen relatively quickly (hives, itching, wheezing etc) and can be life threatening (such as in the case of someone with a peanut allergy with anaphylaxis). To learn more about food allergies and testing, visit FARE.

While food allergies usually are noticeably caused by the food in question, a food sensitivity can go completely unnoticed, as the symptoms and discomfort that come from the sensitivity happen so slowly over time that we don’t see them as related.  We usually only become aware that there is an issue with that food if we take it out for a period of time (like during an elimination diet) and reintroduce it. Food sensitivity symptoms can include many things that can appear to be from other conditions (or just a part of getting older) like bloating, body aches and pains, rosacea, asthma, constipation, diarrhea and weight gain. Food sensitivities are becoming increasingly common today (a few reasons include an increase in gut permeability & exposure to hormones) and many people who have a food sensitivity gain weight because the offending food causes an inflammatory response in the body. Interestingly enough, the foods we are sensitive to are often foods we eat frequently and have cravings for! Remove the offending food and weight starts to come off easily. If you need help doing an elimination diet to see if you have a sensitivity to the most common ones, let’s chat!

 

-You have self limiting beliefs. Do any of these sound familiar? “I’ve always been fat.” “I can’t lose weight.” “Losing weight is too hard for me.” “I’m just a big boned person.” “Everyone in my family is overweight.” “I’ll never be a normal weight.”For me, the thought was “I’m just a fat girl” – as if being “fat” defined who I was as a person.We make our weight mean something about us. Thoughts that we think over and over again become part of our belief system and when something is ingrained in our beliefs, like it or not, we take actions repeatedly that will provide evidence for that belief.

For example, if you believe that your weight is a direct result of just everyone in your family being naturally heavy or if you believe that it’s not possible for you to lose weight, how much effort do you think you’ll put into eating well or not eating too much? If you are like most people with these beliefs, you’re going to half-ass it! If you already believe you will fail, you won’t give it your all – because why give your all to something you know you can’t have? You’re not a bad person or lazy for doing this – it’s human nature. We won’t work hard at something we know we can’t have.

But you don’t HAVE to believe these things are true. It’s a choice to believe these things about yourself. Change your belief and you will change your future. To open up the door, start asking yourself empowering questions, like: What if I could lose weight? What can I do today to make weight loss more likely? Is eating this food in alignment with the person I want to be? See where that takes you!

 

-You’re holding onto emotional weight. This is where I’m gonna get a little woo-woo and won’t provide scientific facts to back me up – just personal experiences and observations but I have a feeling you’ll get what I’m talking about and see how it can cause issues with your weight.

Sometimes we gain weight and can’t lose it because we are holding on to something that we believe or think about ourselves on such a deep level that it becomes what I like to call “emotional weight”. The belief doesn’t even have to actually be true to weigh us down – it just has to be something that we think must be true! For example, maybe you got the impression as a child that you weren’t lovable – so to prevent people from loving you, you gained weight to protect yourself from what you saw as inevitable rejection. Or perhaps you got a lot of attention from the opposite sex when you were young that made you feel uncomfortable, so you gained weight in the hopes of reducing that unwanted attention.

The weight was a physical way for us to build up a wall around ourselves to keep others out or to keep believing whatever it is we want to believe about ourselves.  Emotional weight prevents us from being who we want to be, it gives us an excuse to hold ourselves back, it keeps us playing small and safe. We think it’s protecting us in some way to continue living that story or belief about ourselves, but all it’s really doing is limiting our potential.You may not even realize there is some deep emotional root to your weight gain – many of us get stuck here and can stay here for years until we recognize that the reason we are unhappy in our bodies is because we are stalling ourselves in other ways.

If you can let go of whatever is weighing you down emotionally, often we start to lose weight. Release whatever is holding you down emotionally and weight loss will happen naturally. Don’t know how to that? Schedule a consult with me to discuss it.

 

-You’re super stressed out. High levels of stress cause us to release lots of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone – and when this happens too often we gain weight, especially in the belly. In early times, this release of hormones helped us to stay alive by giving us quick energy to escape predators and increasing fat storage in case we were without food for long periods of time!

Today, many of us enter that fight or flight mode daily due to situational stress, (most of which isn’t a threat to our lives), and our body (amazing machine that is is) prepares us to deal with it by making sure the body is prepared for famine or being on alert. When we’re chronically stressed, the body thinks that we’re at risk for starvation so it starts to store fat in case we need it later (because thousands of years ago food wasn’t at our fingertips like it is today). When this happens on a daily basis, you can see how difficult it will be to lose weight if your body believes you are in danger and need all the fat stores it can make! Even more annoying is that while under acute stress, most folks lose their appetites, but when the stress is chronic, we actually get the urge to eat more – so you end up with eating more which contributes to the fat storage.

If you’re under high levels of stress, or even moderate stress but don’t handle it well, try making stress relief a priority in your life. Gentle exercise like walking and yoga, movement like tai chi and qigong, deep breathing exercises, massage, evening baths with epsom salt, journal writing, meditation and avoiding caffeine may help! As you reduce your stress level, the weight may come off more easily.

 

-You’re eating more than your body needs. This is the category that most of us fall into. It’s not something we like to hear, but most of the time, the reason we gain weight and the reason we can’t lose weight is because we are taking in more food than our bodies are using for fuel. This happens for a lot of reasons, a few that you may relate to are:

1.   We’ve gotten very disconnected from our bodies and don’t listen to hunger & fullness signals to determine when to start and stop eating. This means we eat more and more often! When was the last time you actually felt true hunger in your body?

2.   As a society, we eat a lot of foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, these foods make us feel good in the short term but they spike and crash our blood sugar, making us feel ravenous later, again leading to eating more food than we can use.

3.  We live sedentary lives, spend too much time driving, on the computer watching TV and not enough time moving around so we don’t burn enough calories to use up the food we eat.

4.  We turn to food when we’re upset, sad, frustrated, lonely or even happy. When we do this, we usually consume large quantities of food in a short period of time and do it on a regular basis.

5. We eat massive portions that restaurants serve and start serving ourselves those same sized portions at home even though they are way more food than our body needs. It’s just what we’re used to, so we eat it!

How do you deal with this? Take an honest inventory of your habits. Some people may need to try weighing their food with a kitchen food scale (to determine whether they’re having 1 serving or 4) or get back in touch with their bodies natural hunger signals.

 

-You’re self-sabotaging yourself. You eat well and exercise for a couple of weeks, then decide to “reward” yourself for your hard work by having a cheat day, but that cheat day turns into you falling off the wagon for three weeks. Or you have been stuck at the same weight for a year, despite exercising 5 days a week and eating well 5 days a week but every Friday and Saturday night you have a few drinks and then after your drinks decide to eat chocolate, ice cream or whatever else strikes your fancy. You’ll worry about your “diet” on Monday! Or, you drop 20 or 30 lbs and while super excited about your progress, you start to purposely sabotage yourself because there is a part of you that is completely freaked out about going below a certain weight. We use weight to protect ourselves sometimes (see the point on “emotional weight” above) and even though consciously we want to lose weight, sometimes we’re more comfortable at the weight we’re at than we want to believe. In fact some of us actually don’t want to lose weight but have been conditioned by society to believe that we need to in order to be happy, so we struggle to lose weight even though it’s not even something we want for ourselves!!

So how do you stop sabotaging yourself?

Self sabotage is a complicated beast but for most it goes back to getting in touch with our feelings. Do you feel guilty or berate yourself when you something that isn’t on your “diet”? Then you’re going to self sabotage. Do you use food to comfort or reward yourself? That’s self sabotage. Getting to your why is key to putting an end to it. Find out why you are doing this to yourself and then come up with some good reasons to stop doing it – without judgement and with love! Go back to why you want to lose weight in the first place – what’s your motivation? How will losing weight change your life? Is there anything that scares you about that? Is there anything that excites you? Own up, be honest with yourself. This is your ride and you’re in control of it.

So what do you think? Could one of these be troubling you? What are some other unknown reasons you think people have trouble losing weight? Please share with me in the comments!

If you are having a difficult time losing weight and aren’t sure where to turn next,  I sincerely hope you will contact me. I have helped many women get over hurdles that were blocking their success and I’d love to help you do it too.

Are you looking to give your body a little reset after summer indulgences? Consider joining us for the September 14, 2015 round of the 12 Day Detox program. This is an online program that will help you embark on a whole foods lifestyle with lots of support, recipes and even a coaching call with me! Only $67 for the whole program – which is a steal!

Did you hear? The 12 Day Detox Program is returning September 14, 2015. Join us!

Did you hear? The 12 Day Detox Program is returning September 14, 2015. Join us!

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Yes, You Really Should Write That Thought Down

I’m a big advocate for writing things down. I have a journal collection that now spans decades (though I slacked heavily shortly after I met John and only in the last year or two have I picked it up again!). I write details on the back of every photo I’ve ever printed (names, dates, locations etc). In college, I could bang out a paper at the last minute in just a few hours. I still tend to write my shopping lists on paper – despite having every list making app available literally at my fingertips on my phone.

Despite all this writing, my handwriting is a mysterious scribble that can only be understood by me. (Apologies if you’ve ever been the recipient of a card or letter from me – odds are you are still trying to figure out what I wrote but are too polite to ask!). Writing is just a huge part of who I am, and always have been.

I promise with all this writing, I’m not just anal about details! Something I’ve noticed over the years, is that when I write things down they become more concrete in my brain. The act of writing (as opposed to typing or just thinking about something) creates memories that are more firm. It’s a long running joke with my friends and family that I have an insane memory and I’ll never let you forget something. Mention one detail, “oh that night we went to ______” and I can often tell you who was there, what we ordered and where we went afterwards. I might even be able to tell you what I was wearing! Possibly what you were wearing too! I’m not special, I don’t have super abilities or anything – the reason I am able to remember these types of details so clearly even years after an event is because of my dedication to writing things down.

The reason I’m telling you all this isn’t to pat myself on the back for being a pen-wielding computer of memory but because writing things down can be an incredibly important way to work through our feelings, including our issues with food and solidify new habits! I have a few clients who definitely don’t love it when I suggest they do a writing exercise – but every one of them who is willing to do it ends up seeing benefits from it!

This is also one reason why I often ask folks who are having trouble losing weight or are unhappy with their food choices to keep a food journal. It’s not about calories or fat grams – it’s about becoming aware of what we are putting in our bodies and not hiding from ourselves. Writing it out makes it all the more real! It’s a great way to get to know yourself a little better and see what you are really thinking about.Joan didion quote for blog post

Here are some of the benefits writing can bring to your life:

  1. Self – exploration & clarity. Writing things down helps you figure out how you are feeling. If you tell me you don’t know why you’re overeating when you get home from work, I’ll suggest you “dump” all your thoughts out on paper (without judgement or trying to write fancy – just get them out!) and I bet you’ll discover something there that gives you an answer. Writing helps us tap into parts of ourselves that we have a hard time accessing otherwise. Getting to know yourself better is one of the best ways to change yourself for the better.
  2. Better Memory. Write things down so you don’t forget! Ideas and thoughts can be fleeting – what you think you’ll remember later, you’ll forget as soon as you stop thinking about it and you’ll wonder what that great idea was! How many times have you walked into the grocery store thinking that you’ll remember all the things you needed and promptly arrived home missing some of the important ones?! (Oh, is that just me??) Write it down to make it come to life.
  3. Firmer goals. Writing down goals makes them more likely to be achieved. If you write it down, it becomes more real. It becomes a commitment to yourself. It’s a lot easier to ignore that you had a goal of not eating cupcakes at work when you only thought about the goal – writing it down gives it concreteness that will help hold you accountable.
  4. Stress relief. Writing can help us release stress and feelings that we are having difficulty letting go of. Ever experience that release that comes from talking to a good friend about something that has been worrying you? You can get a similar release of stress by writing about an experience (or your thoughts/feelings). It’s very cathartic to write everything that is going on in our brains!
  5. Concrete evidence. Writing serves as a record of our progress. At the time, writing acts like a stamp on your memory and helps you let go of feelings and situations that are troubling you, but read those same writings months or years later and you will be able to see how far you’ve come in areas of your life. Sometimes we forget exactly where we were when we started and it’s easy to gloss over how much work it took to get where we are, but if it’s written down, you’ll have that to look back on, which can be a powerful tool to keep your motivation up!
  6. Cultivate positive feelings & self-esteem. If you’re someone who has a habit of thinking negatively about yourself, writing exercises can help you become aware of when/how you do that as well as help build more positive feelings for you – one thing I love to suggest is for clients to write a gratitude list before bed each night, a list of the things they did well that day, or things they love about themselves (physical or otherwise). For some these tasks are very hard at first – it’s hard to come up with things you love about yourself when you’ve been putting yourself down for years – but over time, it gets easier and in their day to day lives they feel more powerful, supported and able to go after what they want. This is such an awesome thing! Writing at bedtime inserts those thoughts gently into your subconscious so you wake up feeling the effects of that good stuff.

So you’re probably wondering what kind of writing can be helpful? And how to get started?

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Buy yourself a pretty journal or notebook. I don’t know about you but I’m more excited to write when I like the notebook. Call me shallow, I’m ok with that!
  2. Set aside one day a week or a certain time of each day where you will dedicate to at least 15 minutes of writing and stick with it. Put it on the calendar. If you’re more introspective in the morning, maybe that’s a good time to write. If you feel more free on the weekends, that might work better for you.
  3. Find a place that you enjoy writing. I always got more journal writing done when I left my home and went to a coffee house/cafe or outdoor park or beach. I’m more inspired in those types of places and don’t enjoy the distractions that can come from being at home (ug, I should really do those dishes!). When I was single and lived in a house with a bunch of friends, my room was my writing retreat. Find what works and inspires you!
  4. Decide what kind of writing you want to do. It doesn’t have to be formal or in a certain format and it can change however you like. You can write in prose, poetry or just random thoughts. It’s ok to have spelling errors and wacky punctuation. It doesn’t have to sound pretty or smart – it’s just about getting what’s in your head down on paper and seeing where it takes you.
  5. What should you write about? It’s up to you, really! You can just write about your day – what did you do? Who did you see? How did that make you feel?. You can write about things that are worrying you, bothering you, things that happened that made you happy, things that happened that frustrated you. You can write down goals and use a journal as a way to track your progress with them. You can even use a journal to draw and color and tap into your creative side! You can write down old memories – maybe for you, writing could be a way to document your personal history! (This is where my genealogy hobby intercepts my coaching business, haha!) Where did you grow up? Who were your best friends? Where did you go to school? Who was your favorite relative? What sort of food did your family eat? etc.  Lastly, you can also look for writing prompts if you’re the type who draws a blank when you put pen to paper – just do a google search “writing prompts for self-discovery” or “writing prompts for goal setting” etc. Insert whatever subject you might want to explore and when you find some writing prompts that interest you – write one down on each page of your journal and then as you have time to write you can fill in each prompt.
  6. Shameless plug here – Join the September 14, 2015 round of the 12 Day Detox program. It’s a whole foods based program that will help you connect with your body – but each day there are writing activities that can help you get started writing!

That’s really all you need to get going! One word of advice – try to not have judgements about what you are writing or how your writing should look or sound. This is just for you and no one else needs to read it (unless you want them to). You don’t need to censor your thoughts – we do enough of that elsewhere in our lives! Lastly, just do it! Commit to doing some form of writing for at least a few months (whether it’s daily or once a week) and if you don’t see a benefit from it after that, go ahead and stop, but I’m guessing you will be able to come up with at least a few positives that have come from it!

Have you found benefits to journaling or doing writing exercises? Please share with me in the comments! (And if you dig this kind of stuff, consider joining my email list in the green box below!)

How To Recover From a Binge

My old binge food of choice. photo credit: Sugarland aka Supermarket (2 of 10) via photopin (license)

My old binge food of choice. photo credit: Sugarland aka Supermarket (2 of 10) via photopin (license)

Last week, one night on my way home from running some errands (which included the grocery store), I decided to have a piece of milk & caramel chocolate from a bar I had bought (just a piece!). That one piece, turned into me eating the entire bar on my drive home.

Ug.

I felting sick from being “over-sugared” and so disappointed in myself for choosing to indulge in emotional eating. I felt myself slipping into the mental shit spiral that comes with binges (do you know what that feels like?? It’s the WORST).

But I stopped my pouty pity party because I thought “hey, wait a minute, I don’t want to do this. What would I tell a client right now?”. I coached myself through it and instead of one eating episode sending me into a tailspin for days, it was over, which is the goal.

Here’s what to do to recover from a binge quickly:

  1. Figure out what the feck you were feeling when the binge happened.For me, I know I wasn’t hungry but I was tired and kind of in a funky mood. Buying the bar itself wasn’t a big deal – we usually keep some junk chocolate in the house – because we’re human! But most of the time I try not to eat in the car, unless it’s absolutely necessary (like eating a snack immediately after a long workout), and that I was choosing to do this was unusual, at least it’s become unusual for me in the last 2 years.Prior to that, when I was in some of the worst binges I’ve ever had (I’m talking about you 2012!), I went through a period of time where I would drive to a store on my way home from work, buy a bag of doritos or a box of white cheddar cheez-its (jesus christ those things are delicious) – and open it as soon as I got my seatbelt on in the car. Then I’d drive home (another 35 minutes) inhaling whatever junk food I bought – barely tasting it and feeling awful about it the whole time – but feeling unable (and unwilling!) to stop.But why was I doing it today? What was going on for me in the last 24 hours? Nothing crazy. I had a couple of really good client calls that day – I was feeling really proud of all my ladies and all they were doing for themselves. Ok, so what was I doing right before I did errands? I was listening to a business building podcast – on a subject that I’m excited about learning about but feel a little overwhelmed on. Ah!! Bingo – So I was feeling overwhelmed, and probably like I wasn’t enough / didn’t know enough. Instead of feeling that and remembering that those feelings would go away in their own time, I reached for something that was my comfort for a long time – food!When trying to figure out why you binged (especially when your binges have been a thing of the past), it’s helpful to keep digging if you’re not coming up with an answer. Telling yourself “I don’t know” why you did it, is a subconscious way of avoiding the issue. You know why you’re doing this – keep asking questions and looking at your thoughts and interactions that led up to the event. Pretend you are a detective and leave no stone unturned!
  2. Recognize that it happened.
    Acknowledge to yourself -I ate that bag of chips. I ate that whole chocolate bar. Whatever it is. If you keep a food journal/diary, it’s important to log it down. We love to hide our binges from the people in our lives but also from ourselves and if we avoid it, it’s easy to let them happen again and again.
  3. Ask yourself: “How did eating this make me feel?”
    In my case, it made me feel really shitty. It made me feel like a bad person. It made me feel like all my hard work – emotional and physical (eating to satisfaction, stopping when I’ve had enough, exercising etc) was for nothing. I don’t like feeling that way.
  4. Next ask yourself: “How would I rather feel?
    I’d rather feel strong, capable and in control of my feelings and what I put in my mouth. I’d rather not feel ashamed of what I eat.  I’d rather have a relationship with food that is easy and not wrapped up in so much emotional garbage.
  5. Write all that shit down.
    Writing stuff down on paper preferably (typing is not the same but preferable to not writing at all!) helps us release feelings and cement the thoughts and feelings that we want to have in a way so that they stay in the front of our minds. Things become more real when we write them down! There’s no avoiding your feelings if you’re writing and acknowledging those facts down.I came here and wrote up this blog post after my binge and that helped immensely! Confronting this bad boy head on, meant I didn’t end up binging all night, it meant I didn’t skip my workouts for the next few days and it meant enjoying the weekend with my handsome husband without being moody and bloated (because that is the type of shit that happens when we let rotten feelings about a binge hang around and fester).
  6. Now that you know how you’d rather feel, know that you can choose to feel that way instead of the terrible way binging made you feel.
    What??? I know that’s a tough one to wrap our heads around but I’m serious. If I want to feel strong and in control of my food choices I can choose to feel that way from now on rather than choosing to feel like a bad person because of one single event. Eating the candy bar was an action I took and the only reason I felt bad about myself after was because I choose to make the act of eating it mean something about myself (I’m bad). But I can just as easily decide that I’m human and it was just one food choice and I can move on and make better choices going forward. You can CHOOSE to not feel like crap about it (and guess what?? That will affect your future food choices too!!) and that is really good news!
  7. Let it go & know that one binge does not mean all your progress is erased. I know it’s hard. I know there is a part of you that thinks if you don’t beat yourself up over it, then you’ll just do it again and never learn from your mistakes, right? It happened. Let it go. There’s no benefit to us to obsessing over what we did in the past – because we can’t go back and change it!Eating a whole chocolate bar in the car – (while a slightly lesser big deal than a whole box of cheez-its) felt so terrible, not because it was more calories than I want to eat in chocolate, but because it reminded me of how out of control, miserable and borderline apathetic I was a few years ago – and despite the healing I’ve done, there is a small part of me (and almost every one who is recovering from eating issues) who thinks that if an old behavior resurfaces at all, it means I’m back to square one. And that thought is terrifying.It’s also completely untrue. One binge does not undo all the hard work you’ve done – it’s how you move forward that counts. It’s your willingness to confront your actions (instead of tucking them away and ignoring them) and feel those feelings that made you want to binge in the first place that is the hallmark of your hard work!

Moving forward, the next time the potential for a binge appears and you start to fall into old habits that make you feel uncomfortable, you can come back here and revisit these steps. Just knowing that 1 binge doesn’t have to equal weeks or months of destructive behavior. With practice, new positive habits begin to replace old habits and we become less likely to resort to our old ways.

Notice I said “less likely”. Here’s the thing – I have a toolbox full of effective, tried and true tools to stop emotional eating and all are effective in different ways, but sometimes we resort to whatever our brains know best – and my brain still remembers bingeing as the most basic way for me to cope. I’ve retrained it pretty well the last few years – but it can sneak back up on us, especially under stress. I coach women on their own eating struggles and yes, mine sometimes creep up here and there (I’m human and imperfect) but they’re never as bad as they were in the past because I remember to do a mental and written “download” of the experience immediately afterwards.  It’s all about how you handle the “after”.

If you want to recover from a binge – you have to face it, instead of running away. Try reframing it into a learning experience about yourself and it will help remove the shame that we put on it! What helps you recover after a binge? Share with me in the comments!

Hey – did you like this article? Consider sharing your email with me (in the box below) and I’ll send you goodies like this directly to your inbox! Need help working through your own struggle with emotional eating? Schedule a free discovery session with me and let’s see how you can move forward.


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

5 Common Health Myths You Can Ignore

With how much time we all spend using media today (smartphones, tablets, watching TV etc), it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the non-stop health info that comes at us! Because of this, we pick up bits and pieces of the things we hear and one of the problems that comes with that is we end up perpetuating a lot of stuff that isn’t true! Today I want to dispel 5 myths that a lot of people believe. I hear them constantly – and sometimes I want to bang my head against a wall because some of them are just outright lies! Misinformation is not our friend!

5 Common Health Myths You Can Ignore (because you

1. Myth: Celery is high in sodium so you shouldn’t eat it if you’re trying to lose weight.

Truth: Celery does have sodium in it (about 35 mg per stalk) so yes, if you are eating a ton of celery you will ingest a good amount of sodium. But do you know what has more sodium than celery? Virtually every processed food in our stores – a slice of bread can have anywhere from 80 mg to 300 mg of sodium in it, that can of soup that you had for lunch today? Anywhere from 400 mg to 1000 mg (depending on if you had 1 cup or if you had the entire can – 2 servings).  So while celery does contain a bit of sodium, it contains far less than many other foods you are likely already consuming and not worrying about.

Celery also contains beneficial nutrients like Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and fiber and even contains phytonutrients called phthalides that act like a diuretic – so despite the sodium content, celery may actually help you feel less bloated. And lastly, we actually need some sodium for our bodies to function properly and if you are eating a mostly whole foods diet, it’s actually pretty difficult to eat too much of it sodium. My recommendation is to look at the sodium content of other foods in your diet (the processed ones) before ditching celery.

2. Myth:  Lettuce has no nutrition in it – it’s just water.

Truth: If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I would be a very rich woman!  Lettuce, is rich with nutrients – like Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate, fiber, potassium and even some of the B Vitamins. When it comes to lettuce, it’s true that the darker the variety, the more packed with nutrition it will likely be – so yes this does mean that romaine lettuce is more nutrient dense than iceberg lettuce – BUT that does not mean that iceberg has nothing in it! Even 1 cup of iceberg lettuce provides a moderate amount of Calcium, Potassium, Folate and Vitamins A and K! So go ahead and eat it and eat others too. Variety is important! It’s also packed with water and most of us could use more hydration.

3. Myth:  That products that have “superfoods” in them are better than real food.

Truth: The term “superfood” is a marketing term that has no legal definition in the USA. While the term “superfood” is generally used to describe foods that are recognized as having a high concentration of nutrients (antioxidants are often super concentrated in some of these foods), this doesn’t mean that the food described this way is in fact good for you! Blueberries, cacao and broccoli have all been described as superfoods – no big deal, these are healthy foods when consumed in their pure form! But protein bars that use the term “contains superfoods!” in their products that contain junk like hydrolyzed soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, food coloring and other junk hardly become a health food just because they added some blueberry extract or a 1/2 tsp of cacao powder. Yes, acai, goji berries, maca and coconut all have some amazing properties and nutrients but you don’t have to eat them to have a healthy diet – and no superfood product (even with a high concentration of health foods) is going to reverse the damage that a crappy diet can create. The bottom line is we need to Ignore marketing buzz words and read ingredient labels. Then you can use your best judgement before falling prey to this type of marketing BS!

4. Myth:  If you don’t eat grains, you won’t get enough carbohydrates.

Truth: There are lots of sources of carbohydrates that have more nutrients in them than grains. You don’t need to eat grains to get carbs in your diet. To be honest, most of us are eating far too many carbohydrates and could actually use a reduction of them!

Back in 1992, the USDA introduced to the Food Guide Pyramid which recommended Americans eat 6 – 11 servings of grain per day and while the guidelines for Americans have changed, many people still remember this original recommendation and are eating large quantities of grain products every day. But for many of us, eating lots of grain can be problematic – leading to weight gain, uncontrolled blood sugar and (ironically) excess feelings of hunger – especially because most of the grain we eat in this country is heavily refined. Cutting down on the amount of grains we consume can help stabilize blood sugar and crazy food cravings – and guess what? If you feel like you aren’t getting enough carbohydrates, there are plenty of other sources out there!

Vegetables are a great source of carbohydrates and they having far more nutrients in them than grains. High carbohydrate vegetables include potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas and parsnips. Moderate carbohydrate vegetables include celery root, rutabaga, pumpkin, eggplant and tomatoes. Low carbohydrate vegetables (but still contain some) include lettuces, zucchini, mushrooms, bok choy, radishes and cabbage. And don’t forget fruit – most fruit are very high in carbohydrates. The key to feeling satisfied as you transition from a high grain diet to a low grain (or no grain diet) is eating plenty of high fiber vegetables, good sources of fat and plenty of protein.

I personally eat a low grain diet these days and I feel much better than I did in the days when I ate so many grain products! Try it!

5. Myth:  Lifting weights will make you bigger.

Truth: Eating more than our bodies need will make us bigger. Lifting weights (as a woman) will make you stronger, leaner and your muscles more defined. It will not make you get bigger. People who body build to create mass actually have to eat quite a bit (and very carefully & cleanly), they may supplement with protein powders, creatine and other supplements that speed up growth, and lift very heavy and very frequently to increase their size. Increasing your size with muscle is NOT something that just happens by accident when you lift weights casually once or twice a week. It is not something that will happen when your strength training is 15 minutes twice a week. It takes dedicated (hours upon hours of) work and a strict diet plan.

If you think you are getting bigger from lifting weights, odds are it’s a temporary fluid swelling that comes directly after a strength session (it’s part of how the muscle tissues repair themselves)! One of my favorite things to do before a night out if I’m wearing a sleeveless top/dress is to do a couple sets of pushups right before I leave – because they swell and it helps my muscles to look more defined! And this girl dreams of having super sculpted arms!

Lifting weights will make you strong and look good (and it’s a great insurance policy for keeping our bones strong as we age). I promise you won’t get big from lifting a few weights (unless you don’t stop eating when you’ve had enough on a regular basis). If anything, lifting weights will help you burn off extra fat – as pound for pound muscle burns more calories than fat does and strength training heavy gives you a temporary boost in metabolism that will help you burn more calories in the hours after your session. Go lift ladies!

Are there any common health topics or myths that you have questions on? Feel free to post them in the comments!