Hope you’re having a wonderful new-moon week. Now that we’re in the final days of January, do you feel like you’ve had a chance to settle in to your 2014 routine? Maybe you’ve started to get an idea of what’s working and not working with your resolutions, be they health-related or something else entirely.
Those of you who’ve been reading this blog a while will not be surprised when I tell you that one of my pet peeves is when someone tells me, “I decided I need to lose weight, so I bought this book…” Basically, I just want to hit that person over the head with said book because nine times out of ten, said book is written by someone without any actual health credentials.
Once in a while, though, an exception graces the shelves. Enter the Little Book of Thin (aka LBT) by Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, founder of the NYC nutrition practice, Foodtrainers. Not only is this slim volume packed with practical advice on how to “plan it to lose it,” it’s a fun read, showcasing the sharp wit and no-drama approach to healthful eating that’s made me a longtime fan of the Foodtrainers blog. You’ll also love the LBT cheat sheets and No-Roll-Odex of healthy products!
Lauren was kind enough to engage in a little Q&A about the book and share some of her favorite NYC restaurant eats.
Jess: Thanks for being game to do a little Q/A, Lauren. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind LBT?
Lauren Slayton: I opened my practice Foodtrainers in 2001. While my sessions are 1 on 1, there is so much when it comes to situations (socializing, traveling, work life, family life) that’s universal. I wanted to distill what I’ve learned into one little book. It was very important to me that I wrote the book myself and that it was a good read.
J: I love your section on being “choosy” with your foods when it comes to dating—what are some of the most common mistakes you see your single clients making?
LS: Whether it’s dating or simply socializing there’s a lot of posing when it comes to our food (an Elle magazine article where even women who diet are embarrassed to admit it comes to mind). Either women or men eat in the way they feel they are expected to eat OR they come on too strongly as the “diet chick.” Healthy isn’t shameful, right?
J: You talk a lot about planning ahead in LBT—your Food First Aid Kit for travel is brilliant. For a slightly shorter trip (say, a marathon day of jetting about town between appointments), what are a few of your favorite purse-friendly foods?
LS: I am a bit of a tea freak- currently toting pukka tea bags everywhere (cleanse is a favorite). I fill my Foodtrainers Nutcase daily with a different nut or seed. Hail Merry rosemary pecans, KOPALI superfood mix with cacao and mulberries are great. Bars work well too.
J: Which weight-loss myths annoy you the most?
LS: Either “everything in moderation” which often leaves us feeling only moderately well OR calories in versus calories out which ignores the quality of the calories and the timing of our food both subtleties that can affect our health and size.
J: You talk a bit about healthy restaurant options in LBT—what’s one of your favorite restaurant meals lately?
LS: Ooh if I’m being honest I’ve been on planet book and haven’t been out a ton but I adore Green Square Tavern—chef John Marsh made chia shrimp for my book signing, and I am hounding him for that recipe. The scallop crudo at ABC kitchen and the warm Brussels sprout salad (and polenta fries, yes) at Candle 79 make me happy. How great is it that restaurant eating is no longer synonymous with unhealthy?
J:What surprised you most about the process of writing/publishing a book? Any advice for aspiring writers out there?
LS: Yes, talk to anyone you know who has written a book because there’s so much that’s untold. Mark Ellwood (Bargain Fever) Rachel Hofstetter (Cooking up a Business) and Aidan Donnelley Rowley (Life After Yes) each pulled me aside and said “make sure you do this”. In turn, I’d be happy to do the same for anyone in the writing process.
You can get your copy of LBT here.
What are some of your pet peeves when it comes to weight loss and diet myths? What are your favorite busy-day snacks? Do you eat differently on dates? What are some of your favorite restaurant meals of late?
It’s almost that time of year again when many of us set resolutions for the months ahead. Whether that be related to career or health or some other endeavor, it always helps to plan “how” we’re going to accomplish what we set out to do and to set realistic, measurable goals to keep us motivated and stay in touch with how we’re doing along the way.
One of the most common New Years resolutions is to lose weight. For someone who would benefit from reaching a healthier weight, this is fantastic. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do so. While lifestyle changes such as including fewer processed foods and incorporating physical activity x number of days per week can slowly help someone reach their goal, weight loss supplements and other unregulated dietary aids from the health food store can do more harm than good.
Recently, there have been quite a few articles about the dangers of such supplements. This New York Times article focuses a lot on green tea extract, which is often sold as a weight loss aid but can cause serious damage to the liver. However, many supplements come with dangerous side effects with little proven benefit. Bottom line according to me: Stick to real food—if it comes in a pill bottle (or as a powder or potion) and promises to do great things, put it the f*** down. How about sipping a cup of green tea every afternoon instead?
So when you’re thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2014, give yourself permission to be kind to yourself and your body as you kick ass at your resolutions.
Do you know what your New Years resolution will be for 2014?
After giving birth to daughter Maxwell four months ago, new Weight Watchers spokesperson Jessica Simpson is reportedly now only ten pounds from her pre-baby size (or as we they say in clinical, “pregravid weight,” which just sounds weird and creepy).
The singer recently shared her diet and exercise plan with Us Weekly. Though I tend to roll my eyes at celebrity diets, it was a nice change of pace to see some real food on the list and not some juice cleanse/raw crackers crash combination. I also appreciate that Simpson is honest about the fact that she has a personal trainer to help. Cookie diet this is not.
Hey, good for her. Even with a trainer and payment from a major weight loss organization, sticking to a health goal takes effort and commitment, and I think it’s good for the public to see someone actually work at it instead of disappear for six months and show up a size 0.
What do you think about publishing celebrity weight-loss plans?
Ok, I’ll ‘fess up—I totally went through a phase in college where I practically lived off of frozen yogurt. The dining hall sucked, I couldn’t cook to save my life, but I was really good at ordering frozen yogurt with cookie dough bites and sprinkles.
Just thinking about that makes my teeth hurt—I think it was going to Italy and trying gelato that turned me off to the stuff. I mean, honestly, what is the point of eating a giant swirl of fake stuff when the real deal is out there and oh-so-good? Someone please stop me from extending this into a metaphor…Not that I claim to be above the occasional nostalgic craving for soft-serve fro-yo with sprinkles but that happens, like, once a year.
But I digress. The whole point of this post was to share with you Glamour magazine’s Do’s & Don’ts of Frozen Yogurt. While I can’t help rolling my eyes at phrases like “skinny treat,” it’s cute and informative.
Do you like frozen yogurt? Gelato? What’s your favorite flavor/topping combination?
Have you heard of brown fat—aka “good” fat? Naturally present in humans (particularly infants), brown fat consumes calories to generate heat. The catch? Researchers are still looking for a way to activate it in the body. Several studies have shown that it can be activated by cold exposure in a process called non-shivering thermogenesis, and now a recent study suggests that exposure to cold temperatures may indeed flip the switch.
Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center tested 10 study subjects in three ways. They were each separately given injections of ephedrine (which has been used as a weight-loss drug), given injections of saline as a control, and made to wear “cooling vests” that had water cooled to 57 degrees pumped into them. After each intervention, the brown fat activity was measured using PET/CT scans.
Though brown fat activity was the same after the ephedrine and saline injections, after wearing the cooling vests for two hours, subjects’ brown fat activity was significantly stimulated.
Aaron Cypess, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant investigator and staff physician at Joslin and lead author of the study, noted that although both interventions —ephedrine injections and the cooling vests—did result in the same number of calories being burned, the stimulation in brown fat activity was only noted after wearing the vest.
Though the study was small, the results are encouraging and may offer a glimpse into a method of helping prevent or reverse obesity. Researchers hope that with these results, cooling vests and drugs that mimic the effects may not be too far off in the future.
I can’t help but wonder what would happen if someone wore a cooling vest at the same time as a pair of that fat-burning underwear from Japan…Sounds confusing, no?
Would you wear weight-loss clothing?
She writes, “The funny thing is, if I had been a diabetic counseling other diabetics, or an oncologist with cancer, my personal experience might be considered a plus…But, unlike diabetes and cancer, weight issues are not clearly understood as medical. Though obesity is a major individual and public health problem, people become obese because of a mix of genetic, behavioral, environmental, and psychological reasons. And doctors and patients alike still often think an inability to maintain a lean body represents a lack of willpower, a moral failure.”
Though Koven admits she’s never been more than a few pounds over what is considered healthy, she has at times, considered giving up her professional interest in weight, citing shame and musing, “How could I counsel patients to adopt habits I had so much difficulty adopting myself?”
However, over time, she explains, she came to see her experiences as a way to help patients feel more comfortable and even relieved to be counseled by someone who knows firsthand what they’re going through. She writes, “Some of that shame seems to dissolve once I’ve named our common demon.” And from there, Koven and her patients can “move forward together.”
I found this to be an inspiring read. When it comes to health and wellness, we all have our “stuff,” something that we struggle with, whether it’s a physical, mental or emotional ailment or imbalance. I took one grad course on nutrition counseling, and though this topic came up in a discussion on self-disclosure, the class kind of skirted around it.
While I don’t think it’s always appropriate to talk about your “stuff” in a healthcare setting, I find letting someone know you’re listening and not judging can make all the difference. It’s kind of fascinating the way someone’s body language changes when they go from feeling anxious and defensive to feeling safe. Whether it’s something like a little “Would it help to know what you’re saying doesn’t sound crazy to me?” or just getting a feel for where someone is at so you can figure out where to meet them in the discussion, it’s important.
Anyway, that’s kind of a tangent.
What do you think of healthcare professionals sharing their personal struggles?
A lot of people will tell you that getting on the scale, especially after the holiday season, can be an emotional experience. It’s easy to get hung up on a specific number, and especially for those with a ways to go until they meet their goal weight, it can be overwhelming and discouraging to step on a scale that reinforces that.
However, this interesting new Quantum scale ($78) registers your weight but only shows you how many pounds you’ve lost or gained since your last weigh-in. For those with a tendency to obsess over numbers, not knowing their actual weight could be a great way to check in and stay on track without going down the rabbit hole every time. However, you’d probably need to use it pretty regularly for the numbers to make any sense—writing down your progress could help.
For someone who wants to lose, say, twenty-five pounds this year, focusing on losing a half-pound per week could be a great way to make the challenge less daunting. These kinds of small, attainable goals can help maintain motivation and enthusiasm for big changes. This scale could also be helpful for those looking to maintain by trying to stay within a few pounds of a comfortable, healthy weight.
Personally, I don’t think I’d use this because I prefer to pay attention to how clothes fit and how I feel, but for someone with a specific weight-related goal, this device could be a great tool.
Do you use a scale at home? Do you think you’d buy one that only tells you how much weight you’ve lost or gained?
PS—Am I the only one who finds it interesting that this photo only shows weight loss results? With two scales, I’d have assumed they’d show one of each but perhaps this is why I’m not in advertising…