A 5 year love affair-with healthy eating

 

One of my all time most viewed posts is a story about my friend Pam and her weight loss journey using the Weight Watchers program.  After successfully reaching and maintaining her weight goal, she started coaching others who have been equally successful. Recently, she was honored for 5 years as a coach.

a smiling woman holding flowers

Pam’s clients showed appreciation for  her for 5 years of service.

 

 

Many of us would like to weight less than we do, but some people struggle with severe excess weight that threatens their health and keeps them from enjoying life as they would like. These are usually people whose BMI, body mass index, is 30 or more. For people with diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and osteoarthritis, even lower BMI can put them at excess disease risk.

Body mass index chart

A BMI of 30 or more represents obesity. BMI Chart created by Vertex42.com. Used with permission.

 

 

The United States Preventive Services Task Force, USPSTF,  recently reviewed weight loss methods and made a recommendation to physicians about how to help patients with weight.

The Task force encourages  doctors to refer patients for  “intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions” to successfully lose weight. 

What exactly does “intensive, multicomponent” mean? 

 

 

A Patient Page in JAMA explains it this way- Interventions that are

  • done in a group or individual setting, provided in person or virtually, and use print or online materials
  • occurs over 1 to 2 years and with 1 to 4 sessions per month
  • includes counseling about nutrition and exercise as well as education about how to self-monitor both of these components.
  • includes help to identify barriers to weight loss, and  help with problem solving related to challenges
  • support from other people who are also working on weight loss
  • education  focused not only on weight loss but also on weight maintenance after interventions are completed.

 

 

Here is a link to the page-

Behavioral Interventions for Weight Loss

 

 

a lady in bare feet standing on a scalefeet in sports shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t used Weight Watchers but from what I understand about it, this is the type of program they offer. I’m not necessarily promoting WW, as they are called now, but if you want to lose weight I suggest looking for a program that includes these features. It certainly has worked for Pam and those she coaches.

“If we want to be people’s partners in what healthy means to the, it has to be about more than just weight. It has to be a total approach to how they can live their healthiest, best lives.”

Mindy Grossman, CEO of WW, quote taken from TIME magazine, October 15, 2018

 

 

And here is my story about Pam and her break-up with junk food.

How I “broke up” with junk food

and fell in love with healthy eating.

Meet my friend Pam. My husband and I met Pam and her husband in a ballroom dance class. I was immediately captivated by her radiant smile and Southern charm. Since then I have learned more about her and watched an amazing transformation in her life.

Pam and I attending a wedding at the dance studio

Pam and I  at the dance studio

 

 

Pam graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi State University in 1980. With a major in Communications, she started her career as a writer and Account Executive for advertising and public relations agencies in Mississippi and in Oklahoma where she moved after marrying.  She was the Marketing Director for a large medical clinic for several years. Since 1995, she has enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom with involvement in PTA, church and community. In 2012, she was named Volunteer of the Year by her community public school system.

But despite such a charmed life, there was a struggle, one that Pam shares with many people. In this blog I have discussed the physical and emotional consequences of excess weightyou will be encouraged by Pam’s success story which she so generously shares with me and you.

“Breaking up is hard to do. ” By Pam Whitson

“I was happily married to the love of my life and should have been having the time of my life.   Sadly, my self-confidence and my happiness had been stolen, and I was the thief.

For over two decades, I robbed myself of peak energy, vitality, health and beauty by totally disregarding my intake of food.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I thought about what I should do.  I spent money on self-help tapes, gym memberships and weight loss programs from the practical to the extreme.  I whined and wished about it constantly.  And it didn’t help knowing that I was not alone; almost half of adults are overweight or obese.

And I had occasional moments of success.  Like the time I was within four pounds of leaving the “obese” category. (Obese is a BMI, body mass index, of 30 or higher)  After months of hard work, I ran to Glamour Shots for the mid-1990s version of a sequin and big hair make-over.  On the way home from my triumphant photo session, I stopped by my favorite barbecue place and started eating my way right back to where I was before.  I gained all the weight I had lost back and more.

I joked my way through feelings of depression, because  I had an unhealthy relationship with food.    I thought about it way too much.  I ran to it for instant gratification.  I was too in love with the tastes, the textures, the sheer delight of food.  Even now, I love to grocery shop.  One of my favorite places on the planet is the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

cereal boxes in a store

“One of my favorite places on the planet is the cereal aisle of the grocery store.”

 

 

Finally, at age 53, after twenty years of carrying way too much weight for my 5’7 ½” (1.7 meters) (yes, the half inch counts!) frame, I was ready for a change.  Really ready.  Change isn’t easy.  Change hurts.  I walked into Weight Watchers and pretended it was my first time ever.  I read everything.  I listened and participated.  I went to every meeting.  I hung around afterwards and pestered my leader for every little nugget of information I could cling to.

Pam before weight loss

Pam and her daughter

 

 

I rejoined Weight Watchers in July, 2012, with 20 pounds (9 kg) still off from a previous Weight Watcher effort. I lost 40 pounds (18 kg) in 4 1/2 months to be at goal before Thanksgiving! I learned to maintain this loss during the required six week maintenance period with Weight Watchers and became an official Lifetime Member before the year’s end of 2012. This meant a lot to me because my birthday is New Year’s Day. How wonderful to start the year at a healthy weight!

At Weight Watchers I learned I could change.  I could change what I put in my grocery basket.  I could change what I ordered in restaurants.  I could change how much I moved.

I could change my relationship with food for good.

I still enjoy food.  Very much.  Maybe even more than before because now I appreciate my food as fuel to live a healthy and active and even beautiful (in the eyes of the beholder) life!  I still enjoy the tastes, even more so because I choose only the best.  My plate is colorful with roasted veggies and fresh fruits and salad greens.  I enjoy grilled lean chicken, steak and seafood.  My carbs are high fiber, full of flavor and texture.  I no longer long for the processed foods full of white flour, sugar and fat.

By pairing healthy eating with increased physical activity, I changed my weight dropped from 226 lbs (102 kg) to 150 lbs (68 kg).  Now 70 pounds (31 kg) lighter and at a healthy BMI of 23, I feel so much happier and healthier.

But once I started eating better, even before I was near my goal weight, my self-esteem and confidence were instantly restored.  Just knowing that I had a plan gave me optimism and excitement.  I’ve been at goal for almost three years and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (or even a crisp cookie). And I now stay about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) below goal as a safety net.

Pam on a well deserved vacation

Pam on a well deserved vacation

 

 

In addition to my daily walks, I enjoy ballroom dancing, Jazzercise, swimming and an occasional bike ride.  I wear a Fitbit and accomplish 15,000 steps a day.

I’ve been a Weight Watcher leader for two and a half years and just LOVE it! I never imagined I would do this; you might as well as told me I would become an astronaut. While helping me stay at a healthy weight, I enjoy the privilege of making new friends and helping other people be their most confident and healthy selves.

Just for fun, I’ve started a Park Walking group that explores different parks in our city every two weeks. We took a summer break (Oklahoma gets real hot in the summer) but will be back on the trails in September. Along with my awesome Weight Watcher members, I’m enjoying a new healthy relationship with food for good. ”

Pam leading a Weight Watchers meeting

Pam is now a WW coach

 

 

Weight Watchers may not be the answer for everyone, but Pam’s idea of changing our relationship with food should be a part of any weight management plan.  Our eating habits affect our health in other ways, so even if you are not overweight, using food appropriately is important.

Physical activity  has health benefits beyond weight loss. I joined Pam’s walking group and find it a fun way to exercise and make new friends. (My favorite walking shoe is Go Walk by Skechers.)  In addition to social dancing with our husbands, Pam and I were in a ladies dance team. We performed a Western theme dance routine to the song “These Boots are Made for Walking” . That’s so appropriate for someone who walked her way from a BMI of 35 down to 25. If she can do it, so can you.

( This post contains affiliate product links; purchase through these links pays a commission to this blog; thank you)

 

Our son introduced my husband and I to Hello Fresh delivery meal kits and we’ve enjoyed the convenience, taste, variety, and quality. The meals feature lots of fresh vegetables with vegan  and “fit” choices. We think we are eating healthier and ever with less work. Here is a link through which you can get $40 off your first order.

HELLO FRESH OFFER 

 

Thanks for letting me introduce you to my friend Pam. We would love to hear your weight management stories. Please share in the comments or send me a message if you want it kept anonymous. Remember, support from others is an important step toward success.

Dr. Aletha 

 

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Effective options to control IBS, irritable bowel syndrome

I enjoy meeting other bloggers on blog link-ups and on one of them recently another blogger asked me about IBS. I had not read much about it recently so decided to research and write a post about it . So whether you already know something about IBS, or if it’s new to you,  here is that post. Thanks Kat, from KusKat Studio.

IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, is a common gastrointestinal disorder, of unknown cause.

It is distinct from conditions referred to as inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which I won’t discuss here.

Currently there is no one generally recognized blood test, scan, image, or other diagnostic test that confirms IBS. Your doctor may order testing to exclude other conditions such as celiac sensitivity,  lactose intolerance, or colon cancer.

diagram of the human digestive organs

the human digestive system -irritable bowel syndrome mainly involves the colon and rectum, and probably also the small intestine.

 

The symptoms of IBS are not unique , making diagnosis difficult since it can be confused with other conditions.

IBS is defined by

Recurrent abdominal pain averaging 1 day per week for 3 months associated with

  • Bowel movements
  • Change in frequency of stool
  • Change in form or appearance of stool.

The change in bowel habits can be diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both.

There may be other symptoms-bloating, abdominal distention, flatulence, tiredness, headaches, painful urination, but these are not required for diagnosis.

The Mayo Clinic explains what symptoms may suggest you need tests for other conditions.by your doctor.

The cause of IBS is still uncertain.

At one time doctors believed it was due to overactive muscles in the bowel wall, leading to the once used name “spastic colon.” Current thinking is  the nerves to the bowel are hypersensitive and send signals to the brain which then over interprets them as pain. This hypersensitivity may be triggered by food, bacteria, or toxins in the bowel.

An altered immune response to infections may also precipitate the condition. Changes in the number and type of bacteria that live in the bowel has been identified as a possible cause.

The symptoms of IBS may fluctuate and even go into remission spontaneously, so it can be difficult to definitely know what works and what doesn’t. Management can be divided into two categories.

Effective options to control IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

photo from the collection at LIghtstock.com, stock photo site (an affiliate link, a commission may be paid to this blog)

 

 

Non-drug treatment options

Regular exercise, such as a daily walk, jogging trail signencourages the bowel to move more efficiently.

 

 

Experts recommend changes of food choices as a first step to symptom control.

 

 

 

The Cleveland Clinic offers these general guidelines on eating with IBS.

  • Limiting alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, fat, and gas-producing foods may benefit many with IBS.
  • Avoiding or eliminating milk products, fiber, and/or gluten may be considered next if symptoms persist.

cup of milk, plate of bread

 

 

Some studies show a low FODMAP diet is especially helpful for bloating whether diarrhea or constipation is the major problem. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that aren’t absorbed properly in the gut.

Stanford University Medical Center provides this  Low FODMAP Diet
(FODMAP=Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols) 

FODMAPs are found in various  fruits, vegetables, cereals, breads, dairy, and sweeteners so it can be challenging to know what’s acceptable and what’s not. Using a list such as this one or working with a knowledgeable dietician can make it easier to find what works for you.

 

Mind based therapies

With IBS, hypersensitive nerves from the gut send pain signals to the brain. Because of this nervous system involvement,  one’s thoughts and emotions can both improve and exacerbate symptoms of IBS.   Psychological therapies are often recommended- CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), hypnotherapy, and psychotherapy.

Drug therapy for IBS

Non -prescription drugs used for IBS include

Both groups may also get help from probiotics.

(These are affiliate links used to support this blog at no additional cost to you.)

Prescription meds available in the United States specifically for IBS include linaclotide, lubiprostone, eluxadoline , and rifaximin. Drugs originally developed for depression, the TCAs and the SSRIs , also are effective.

What to do if you think you may have IBS

Monitor your symptoms carefully, keeping a written record, for 1-2 months. Take this to your doctor for an evaluation. However if you have these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

  • bleeding in bowel movements
  • unexpected weight loss
  • fever
  • profuse diarrhea
  • persistent failure to pass stool
  • severe, disabling pain

 

A primary care doctor-a family medicine or internal medicine doctor- can evaluate these symptoms initially, and decide if referral to a GI specialist, a gastroenterologist , is needed for more specialized testing.

The American College of Gastroenterology offers these resources for patients with irritable bowel syndrome. 

If you have been diagnosed with IBS

Your doctor likely has already recommended some of the measure I have listed above. If not, and your symptoms are not controlled, then you might want to discuss to see if they are appropriate for you.

 

Remember, this information and links are provided for your information and are not endorsement,  advice ,or treatment. I  encourage you to seek care from your personal physician. 

 

I appreciate your sharing  this post on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

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26952564_10213093560871954_4239554644472378905_oSincerely, Dr. Aletha