By Pamela Peeke, MD
Happy New Year to every WebMD member! Take a breath and hit the pause button. Let’s talk about how you want to live from here on out. If you believe you’re doing well— eating nutritiously, staying mentally and physically active— then keep it going, and try to continuously challenge yourself to stay engaged and on track. And share your thoughts on this blog and exchanges to help others. However, if you feel like making some improvements to boost your health and wellbeing, I’m going to roll out a simple, practical strategy to teach you healthy lifestyle basics while showing you how to coach yourself to sustain your success for a lifetime. You see, you have what it takes to help yourself. You just need to discover how powerful you really are.
I prefer to approach lifestyle as an ongoing, dynamic, holistic and integrative process. You’re not a robot that can be commanded to get up and exercise and eat well right away. You’re a human being who’s come to the table with a lifetime of triumphs and difficulties and you need to be honored for your uniqueness. As you look ahead at this new year, let’s think way outside any box, and instead be mavericks in how to craft a better way to live. You’ll notice I’m not emphasizing a 12 month weight loss campaign. This is much bigger. This is about a mind and body transformation that is sustainable for life— your life. Transformation is the goal.
For the next twelve months, you’ll be provided with a multilevel blueprint to help you navigate your mental and physical challenges. This will include:
Twice weekly blogs: You’ll be hearing wit and wisdom from the “Masters”, men and women who have achieved mental and physical transformations and are eager to share secrets of their ongoing journeys and success. In this blog you’ll hear from Tara Costa, well known from her Biggest Loser story and author of the foreword to my book The Hunger Fix. We welcome your comments on the blog and plan to reply to as many of one of you as we can.
Diet Community Exchange: Join the WebMD Diet Community Exchange and reach out to get support from other WebMD members who are at various stages of their transformation journeys. I’ll be there as well to answer questions, post tips and resources and participate in the discussion groups. Research now shows that when you can get ongoing support and coaching like this, you’ll be more successful in the long run.
Weight Loss Wisdom Newsletter: Sign up for the WebMD Weight Loss Wisdom Newsletter. You’ll see snippets from my blogs and the diet exchange interwoven into helpful new news to guide you on your journey. The wonderful editors do a terrific job of filtering through all of the new information coming in to drill down to the most helpful facts, tips and tools to arm you for your daily lifestyle challenges.
OK, are you ready to get started? Great. First, take my Are You Ready for Change quiz. It’ll help you get the reality check you need prior to embarking on your journey. This is meant primarily to help you start to think about the things you’ll need to change as you push forward. You’ll be addressing each of these on an ongoing basis so don’t worry about anything other than being aware that these are important issues.
1. Are you motivated to make long-term lifestyle changes that require eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active?
2. Have you fully identified the main stresses in your life now and during the next several months?
3. Do you truly believe that there is no magic bullet, but instead patient work on your part?
4. Do you believe that you can change your eating habits?
5. Do you have family, friends, or both who will support your weight-loss efforts?
6. Are you willing to find ways to be more physically active?
7. Are you realistic about your mental and physical transformation goal?
8. Are you willing to record your food intake, physical activity, and mental focus, and will you make time to do so?
9. Are you willing to look at past experiences in starting a healthier lifestyle and other areas of your life to see what has motivated you and kept you working on obstacles to success?
10. Do you view changing your eating and physical activity habits as a positive experience?
11. Have you resolved, or are you in the process of resolving, any eating disorders or other emotional issues that make it difficult for you to achieve a healthy weight?
12. Do you believe that achieving your mental and physical transformation is a lifelong process that requires you to change your behavior, eating habits, and level of physical activity?
13. Are you ready to make that commitment?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this quiz. It’s an opportunity for you to review where you stand in your determination and ability to make changes in your life. Carefully examine the people, places and things in your life that may stand in your way to successful transformation. We’ll help coach you to how to adapt and adjust as you go along.
As many of you know, my baseline blueprint for change is using my infamous MIND MOUTH MUSCLE template. Let’s dig in with small steps in each element.
MIND: We’re not doing any resolutions. We’re taking small steps to build a powerful foundation for lifelong health and wellbeing. Don’t stress yourself with lofty goals. Instead, practice staying mindful and vigilant for only TWENTY FOUR HOURS. That’s correct. Get through each day using my “Just for Today I Can_____”. Break up the day into segments highlighting the trouble hours (nightly eating, overeating in the afternoon, skipping lunch) and concentrate on your significant changes occurring during those blocks.
MOUTH: I highly encourage you to log onto the WebMD Food and Fitness Planner. You need to have a basic plan to use and customize for your own needs. In future blogs, I’ll be talking about many of the new apps available and many resources to help you individualize your nutrition as you go along. For now, go to your kitchen and ditch any processed or refined food products lurking in your pantry and fridge. Give’em away or pitch them. Now, get to the grocery store and, using the Food and Fitness Planner’s guidelines, as well as my basic “how to prepare your kitchen for healthy eating” in The Hunger Fix, gradually stock up on whole foods. Vow “no more science fair projects in my kitchen!”
MUSCLE: Assume the vertical more often each day. Just get up and move more. Walk for 30 minutes accrued at least 5 days every week. Add a little intensity by varying the speed or incline as you go along. Just take it gradually if you’ve been pretty sedentary. Grab a pedometer. Your eventual goal is 10,000 steps every day that you can. For now, just see what your start number is and plan on adding 500 or more steps per day every week until you hit your goal.
Finally, let’s end with the Voice of a Master.
“I didn’t become 316 pounds overnight. Packing on the pounds was a process, one that, at times, I don’t want to remember. But finally facing what got me there is what has helped me realize that I never want to be like that again—lost, dissociated from myself, and hungering for the lies and the quick fix of my food addiction. I’m an emotional eater. Whether I was sad or extremely happy, it didn’t matter—every emotion was registered as “hunger” and filled with food. And the fact that most of my family has weight issues, and the majority of them are still obese, certainly didn’t help. Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house had four courses! There was no getting up in the morning to take a walk. We were clued out. Most of us do not understand that once we identify our true hunger, we can set the scope of our dreams—that no matter how powerful the influences are, we do not have to be trapped by our environments.” Tara Costa
Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you