In the new year, beware of the weight-loss snake oil salesmen

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently about her struggles with weight. She knows my story very well, and I have gone out of my way to encourage her to try a path similar to mine (work with a nutritionist, give yourself lots of time, focus on eating real foods in balance, etc.). She resists this path because she is on a quest that many of us are familiar with–the search for the quick fix to weight loss. She was telling me about how much weight she had gained, and that the Green Coffee Bean extract that she bought after seeing an episode of Dr. Oz hadn’t worked.

Her story made me so sad, and then mad. People make billions of dollars a year peddling this type of modern day snake oil to desperate people who have tried everything to lose weight. And in the first weeks of the new year, the advertising accelerates trying to capitalize on the guilt we feel after holiday indulgences. I used to be one of these people, chasing every fad diet and weight loss pill that promised quick and easy weight loss. A cruel promise because it offers hope but never delivers results.

I want you to be well informed about these products and their promises. So, I invited Brenna Thompson, registered and licensed dietitian with Nutritional Weight and Wellness and nutrition blogger (Eating Simple),  to give you some researched information on the topic.

Brenna Thompson, LD, RD comments on Dr. Oz and his weight loss supplement peddling

Dr. Oz is about as bad as a politician when it comes to health and wellness. One day he tells us a healthy diet is low in fat, the next day he invites Dr. William Davis on to discuss wheat and gluten, and then the next day he has a nutritionist touting the newest weight loss miracle pill. So which is it Dr. OZ, what is the ultimate secret to weight loss?  At this point I’m not sure even he knows.

Recently he spot-lighted the magical benefits of green coffee bean extract (GCBE). Supposedly, taking this supplement will melt away the pounds without having to change one’s diet or increasing exercise. Sounds too good to be true to me. However, unlike the famous

Dr. Oz promotes Rasberry Ketones as a quick fix weight loss solution

Dr. Oz promotes Rasberry Ketones as a quick fix weight loss solution

raspberry ketone show, there are a few studies, that have shown supplementing with GCBE may actually help people lose weight. Don’t get too excited just yet. The most recent study is very small (16 test subjects), who took a placebo, 700mg, 1050mg, for 6 weeks with 2 weeks between doses. Results showed an average weight loss of 6-10 pounds during the highest dose period. Unfortunately, there is no information on how long these people kept the weight off.

During the show, Dr. Oz went on and highlighted two audience members who took GCBE for 1 week. Both lost 2-5 pounds and stated that they had fewer cravings and more energy. But can we really trust them?  They’re on Dr. Oz!  Of course they’re going to say they felt great taking the supplement. In the words of Dr. House, “Everyone lies.”  The Dr. Oz Show Medical Unit went on and conducted its own larger study using 100 overweight women and found that after taking 400mg of GCBE for two weeks the GCBE group lost 2 pounds and the placebo group lost 1 pound. Both groups were told not to change their diets. So then how did the placebo group still manage to lose one pound?  Obviously this is not a very scientific study, and its results should not be trusted.

Currently no large, long-term studies have been performed on GCBE, so we don’t know how long a person can take it and possibly lose

Dr. Oz promises that Green Coffee Bean Extract will melt off pounds

Dr. Oz promises that Green Coffee Bean Extract will melt off pounds

weight. We also don’t know if there are any negative side effects from long term use. As usual, it doesn’t address the reason a person gained excess weight in the first place–poor diet habits. Sure people might lose weight, but they are not necessarily healthier. Body weight is not the problem, it is a symptom. Inevitably, once someone stops taking the supplement they will probably gain the weight right back.

For people willing to tune out Dr. Oz, long-term sustained weight-loss can be theirs. But it takes time and effort, and there are no magic pills. This year make a commitment to yourself. This year you are going to eat real foods. You are going to eat balanced meals and snacks and not starve yourself. This year you will stop believing in magic pills and quick fixes. This year you will begin believing in your own power to make good choices and to nourish your body. 

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Thoughts on how to navigate Turkey Day (or Carb Fest 2012)

As we head into the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, I am thinking about and planning for how I am going to enjoy the holiday without gorging on carbs. I just don't want to lose any more ground, as I try to maintain my weight loss (it has been a struggle the last few months). I have done well the last few major holidays, but Thanksgiving has always been a challenge for me. I just love the food combinations present: sweet jellied cranberries with savory turkey; stuffing and mashed potatoes; and you all know my weakness for pie! I also got a question from a woman in my Nutrition for Weight Loss class about how to gracefully pass on the high-carb and gluten-ey items (she is gluten and dairy free, as am I).
Turkey

I double up on turkey and pass on the rolls.

So there are many pitfalls for us who are trying to eat real foods in balance, while watching the carbohydrates, to lose weight. Here are some things I do to handle the food choices gracefully:
  • Unless you have interfering aunts, or an overly-watchful mother, no one really notices what you're putting on your plate. Don't put anything on your plate to satisfy someone else (easier said than done, I know). For the interfering relatives, you can but out the old fashioned, “I'm watching my figure!” Works every time.
  • I typically double up on turkey, take a small amount of mashed potatoes, and load up on green veggies. I do have cranberries with my turkey. If I stick to this, I don't have the normal bloated, tired feeling after the meal.
  • Dessert is a mine field. I love pie, and there are usually five different kinds to choose from. I leave it to the day to decide if I will have a small piece. I gauge how I am feeling and whether or not I will feel too deprived if I pass on it. Usually, if I can get a nice cup of coffee with real whipping cream I am fine. Otherwise, I go for it. I just insist on a pie made with butter and not hydrogenated oils.

Have a favorite tip for eating during the holidays? Leave a comment.

 

 

 


Great website for healthy-living resources

I felt the need this week to highlight Nutritional Weight and Wellness's new website. It is such an unbelievably helpful resource if you are seeking weight loss and good health. You can access articles, podcasts, and videos on a wide range of health topics with a simple search. You get all content related to that topic in one place. I have a friend struggling with Fibromyalgia, and this will be a great resource for him.

The recipes have all been re-organized and have lovely photos with them. I have a pot of the Chicken Wild Rice Soup simmering on the stove right now! It is a complete and balanced meal that will help me lose weight.

Wild rice soup

Chicken wild rice soup made from recipe on NWW site

If you haven't already, check out this fabulous resource for health. Well done!

 

 


Blue Cross ads aimed at obesity: mean or necessary?

I am a little late to the party commenting on these Blue Cross Minnesota ads that address the obesity epidemic. First, a couple of statistics:

  • By 2019 obesity will become the leading cause of death.
  • By 2030 50% of Minnesotans will be obese.

In the face of these terrifying numbers, you can see how it seems like a good idea to highlight food choices and how these choices look to our kids. These ads have been roundly criticized for being too shaming and down right mean. See for yourself.


I think the ads would be appropriate if we had a consistent and coherent message about what people need to do to lose weight; if the people in the commercials knew better, they could do better. But we don’t have these consistent messages. We live in the land of “calories in, calories out,” “Move more!” and other overly simplistic maxims about how to lose weight. We also live in a land where heavily-subsidized foods (corn, soy) are promoted as healthy,  but they are making us fat.

It’s all about cravings

Anyone who reads this blog, and who is trying lose weight differently (something other than a one-size-fits-all diet), knows that losing weight takes more than this overly simplistic advice leads us to believe.  If we truly want to help people, like the ones in these ads, make better choices, we need to shake off the overly simplistic advice and get real about what it takes to lose weight for the LONG TERM. Until we address the issue of people’s biochemical cravings for the bad stuff, people cannot lose weight. If we are relying on people’s will power to lose weight, which much of the advice does, they will fail over and over like I did for 30 years. No number of ads will change that.

What are your thoughts on the ads? Leave a  comment.


Tips for looking smashing while you lose weight

Even when I was at my heaviest (270 pounds), I always tried to dress well (despite what my before picture says). It isn’t something I talk about all that often, but I think dressing up despite my weight was key to my weight loss success. Hear me out.

Looking good made me feel pretty, something that we are told we are not because we are fat. Dressing well was critical to my being able to accept myself as I was. If I looked good, I felt better about myself. The better I felt, the more likely I was to care for myself. Part of this caring for myself was making good food choices and living a healthy lifestyle. See the connection? I had to invest in myself as I was to truly change my body.

Here are some tips to help you look and feel your best as you lose weight:

  • Take a look at Nordstrom’s plus size department, either in person or online. They have the most flattering plus size clothing around. Their buyers, Corinne Snedeker and Breanne Holcomb (see photo below), are actually plus-sized women (not the wispy women I imagine are behind most of the bad plus-sized fashion out there). Before I knew this, I would always ask, “Who are your buyers?” I asked because the clothing was cut perfectly for a plus-sized body. The colors were always flattering. I felt beautiful in the clothes. The styles are also consistent with what is on trend for the misses sizes–making you feel like you are a part of the party and not excluded!And what’s best? Nordstrom offers you $100 in free tailoring, so what doesn’t fit perfectly can be adjusted to your unique  body. The style consultants in the Encore department are all plus-sized women, so you are comfortable no matter what your size is. They work hard to get you items that you will shine in and challenge you to try new styles and shapes.

    If you’re not plus sized, you can’t do better than Nordstrom’s Point of View or Narrative departments. If you’re on a tight budget, all of these services are available at the Nordstrom Rack, which sells regular Nordstrom items at dirt cheap prices.

Nordstroms has the best plus size clothing and style advice

Nordstroms has the best plus size clothing and style advice

  • Get your makeup done! With a minimum $50 purchase, any MAC counter will do your full face of makeup for free. I love this service so much. Whenever I feel like I’ve gotten into a rut or if I just want a new way to do my makeup, I make an appointment. The makeup artists are so friendly, and they are really focused on making you look pretty. And MAC cosmetics are fabulous. They wear well and have awesome colors.
  • Re-think your hair style. A good hair cut can make you feel great and look thinner. I got bangs cut into my hair and it did wonders for my face. I also recommend getting highlights put into your hair to brighten your overall look. If you are looking for a great stylist in the Twin Cities, Christina Selmer at Beau Monde Salon knows how to make plus-sized women shine!

I hope these tips will help you feel beautiful as you lose weight. Remember, this can be a fun and fulfilling journey–why not look good for it!

What is your favorite style advice? Leave a comment!


On Dishing Up Nutrition: Hidden habits that sabotage weight loss

I was on Dishing Up Nutrition this past Saturday talking about habits that hold back weight loss. You can listen here or download the show from iTunes. We talked about a lot habits that keep us from reaching our weight loss goals, including “closet eating” episodes like wolfing down a bag of M&Ms in the Menard's parking lost. It was a great show, and I hope you enjoy it!

 


2 great bags for transporting all the food you need to be healthy

One of my biggest struggles I have with eating real food, in balance (aside from all the planning and prep), is transporting food to work, events, etc. I also bring a huge container of water to work every day, which adds to the problem. Most insulated bags do not have the space or strength to contend with the number meals and snacks that I have to carry around. Until now!

2 great bags from Whole Foods

I stumbled upon two of the most well-designed insulated bags at Whole Foods the other day (believe me, I've gone through many in my day): the insulated messenger bag and the square insulated bag.

Insulated bags from Whole Foods

Insulated bags from Whole Foods

They have nice wide straps that make carrying even the heaviest loads more comfortable. The square bag is smaller than the messenger bag, but it can carry a lot because it doesn't taper at the top like most bags. I use two ice blocks in the large bag and one in the smaller bag to keep stuff cold.

And what's best–I just saw that they have new colors. So you fashion-conscious people can get the bags in berry and blue or whatever color will match your outfit!

What's your favorite tip for transporting real food? Leave a comment.