“Stop Dieting Forever” now available on Amazon

413-961-4974My e-book,(718) 726-6581, is now available on Amazon for just $3. This is not just another diet book. In fact, through my experience and research, I have concluded that diets don’t work.

A diet is a temporary lifestyle change to lose X number of pounds so you can go back to your normal way of life.

The problem? You didn’t learn anything about food or how and why you lose and gain weight. The diets you’ve tried are so strict that you can’t continue to live like that. When you quit, you go back to the way you normally eat and you regain your weight plus more. In Stop Dieting Forever I teach you a different way to lose weight that can become your new lifestyle so you won’t regain it.

62 and the last 15

I easily maintained my 100-pound weight loss for almost nine years and then things kind of fell apart. It was a combination of several things: my doctor changed my medication (always a risk for weight gain) and my father was dying of Alzheimer’s which was causing a lot of family arguments over his care. I’m not sure what part each of these played, but by the time he passed away, I was appalled to see that I had gained 30 pounds!

I got off the new medication and reconfirmed my commitment. I started keeping a food journal again. The first 15 pounds came off with time, but the last 15 have proved to be more difficult. I’m sure it’s because of my age and my continued health issues which limit how active I can be. When I started losing my weight I was in my mid-forties. Now I’m 62. Big difference. Now I have to be very careful about every bite I eat, especially “non-essential” food like sweets (my personal challenge). It’s a struggle, especially readjusting my set point.

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How do you lose weight permanently?

I regularly read Quora.com, a site where all kinds of people write questions about everything and regular people write answers. The subjects covered are limitless and the answers often fascinating. I frequently answer questions about weight loss along with art, painting, parenting and general life. “How do you lose weight permanently?” was one of those questions and I thought I would share my answer.

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lose, dieting, weight, healthyI stopped dieting, lost 100 pounds and have kept it off for more than 10 years.

Here’s my definition of a diet: A diet is something you do to lose X amount of weight as quickly as possible so you can go back to your normal life. 

Quick and easy isn’t the answer. Diets and diet programs make losing weight as easy as possible so you don’t have to think about it. They tell you what to eat and what not to eat. Some diet programs make it so easy for you that they deliver your food to your door!

And that’s the problem. You don’t learn anything about yourself on a diet. You don’t have to make decisions about what you eat and how much. If you want to lose weight and keep it off forever, you have to learn which foods are good for you and which aren’t. You have to understand your current relationship with food and develop a new, healthy relationship.

Here are three things you can do to get started:

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Changing your lifestyle is going to take time

It takes time to break bad habits and build good ones. As you change your mindset from fried, heavy, calorie-ladened foods to eating healthier foods like fresh vegetables and fruit, you will make mistakes. You will fall down, fall off and fall away as you make new decisions.

Here’s the key: You aren’t on a diet! If you want to lose weight, and keep it off, you have to make a lifestyle change. So, when you make a bad choice at one meal, you have the opportunity to make a better one at the next meal. There’s no day off, no “cheat days,” and no “forget it, I’ll start again tomorrow.” This is your life. You can’t take a day off from your life (even though there are days when we’d like to).

Making mistakes doesn’t mean you get to give up for the rest of the day. That old cliché: It’s the journey, not the destination – which sets me on edge when I hear someone say it – is true. It’s all of the things you will learn along the way that will get you to a normal weight and keep you there.

It took me five years to lose 100 pounds, but because it took that long, I had plenty of time to fall down and pick myself back up. I learned so much about myself along the way that now I don’t have to think about eating in a healthy way. It’s just the way I eat.

Keep in mind that, given enough time, driving past a McDonald’s without stopping won’t mean a thing, and eating more vegetables and less fried foods won’t be a question in your mind let alone a “punishment.” If you will hang in there for a solid six months, eating healthier and being kinder to yourself, despite your mistakes, you will see a difference.

Stand firm!

Susan

 

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Green Apple 3Greetings to all!

I don’t know about you, but I had a bad winter last year. I have severe fibromyalgia and my pain level was much higher. I got through it but I’m not looking forward to this winter. I maintained my weight last year throughout winter although the temptation to “eat away my pain” was there. Do you find certain seasons or circumstances to be more difficult to maintain your weight loss than others? In winter people tend to want to overeat and hibernate. That works for bears because they overeat and then stop eating while they hibernate. It’s a little more complicated for humans.

We all have times of illness, stress, celebration and sadness. It wasn’t until 1999, when my family went through an excruciating period of grief, that I took a look at myself and said: “You can go through this eating hot fudge sundaes and come out the other side even fatter, or you can use your grief as a reminder that hot fudge sundaes don’t change a thing.” That’s what got my weight loss going until, six years later, I lost 100 pounds.

The point is this: If you want to consistently lose weight, you have to get to the point where you don’t turn to food when external circumstances are hard to deal with. Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas cookies, birthdays, not feeling well, arguing with someone, getting chewed out by your boss, losing someone you love, losing your job . . . Many people use circumstances as a legitimate reason to eat what they know is not healthy for them.

The good news is, you have the power and ability to change this automatic response to circumstances. It won’t be easy, especially if you are surrounded by overweight family members and friends, or live in a culture where fried chicken and macaroni and cheese with extra cheese is a normal meal. Maybe you live in a world where cocktail parties are held regularly and dining out is your norm. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom with three children under the age of five and no emotional or physical support from your spouse or family.

Thin people don’t use food for celebrations, stress or sadness.

So how do you start changing your response to circumstances? You need some new responses that don’t include food.

Spend a week or more making a list (write it down!) of other things you enjoy. Please go beyond the “take a walk, read a book, get in a bubble bath” cliché that weight loss organizations throw at you. You may have to think about this a long time to come up with some creative ideas. Think about it for a moment right now . . . It isn’t easy, is it? That’s because you’ve used food to celebrate or commiserate all of the things that have happened to you for so long.

You have to think outside of the ice cream carton. Take up a new hobby? Go back to a hobby you’ve given up for whatever reason? Are you the kind of person who enjoys nurturing and giving your time to other people? Maybe you should look at some volunteer possibilities. How about helping kids with reading in school? Schools need volunteers in many areas. Maybe you want to go back to school. Try taking one class at a community college.

You’re going to have to sit with this list for awhile until you come up with some ideas you will enjoy (almost) as much as eating. Then, when life falls apart, you can turn to something other than food to get you through.

What are your favorite non-food rewards? Post a comment and share with others.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

Yogurt “Ice Cream” Recipe

I have spent the cold, wet, days of winter the same way many of you have: trying to stay positive and being careful what I eat. With the snow, and lack of sunshine, what I really want to do is stay home, keep warm, stop exercising, and eat. While I do the first two, I’m very careful about the exercising and eating part.

This winter I got a dessert idea from a woman in the weight-loss industry. I took her basic idea — freeze a container of yogurt — and made it my own. Here is my recipe for “Yogurt Ice Cream.”

Yogurt Ice Cream
  • 1 container of Greek yogurt
  • Stir in toppings until well combined
  • Freeze for 1-1/2 hours

You’ll need a container that’s bigger than the cup the yogurt comes in so you can mix everything together. You don’t want a really large container because then you’ll be more likely to create a dessert that’s too large. This makes about 3/4 cup, depending on how many toppings you add, so a one cup container should work well.

For the toppings, add:
  • whatever fresh fruit you like. I use a few fresh blueberries or cut up strawberries, even a third of a banana, sliced. If you like raspberries or blackberries, they work well, too.
  • a few nuts, usually walnut pieces. Nuts have some protein in them and add fiber.
  • a little pinch of shredded coconut (about a tablespoon)
  • things like raisins, dried cranberries, vanilla or almond extract — whatever you prefer.
  • a packet of Stevia, Splenda or other artificial sweetener. This depends on how sweet the yogurt concoction you’ve created is.
  • always keep the calories, sugar (dried fruits are typically higher in sugar), and fat in mind.

I think plain Greek yogurt is the best but you can use the kind with fruit in it, too. The key is to read the labels and find a yogurt with the fewest calories, sugar and fat.

The difficult thing is remembering to make it far enough ahead. I make mine after dinner and the kitchen is cleaned up. I’ve never tried making it hours in advance although I don’t see why you couldn’t. You’d just have to experiment with how long it takes to defrost so it still has that harder, frozen edge and softer, creamy center.

If you give it a try, please leave a comment. I’d love to know what other people are doing to make it their own.

Susan

 

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8126928920Greetings!

I’ve been thinking about hunger lately. Some of it’s because of the winter climate; there’s something about it that makes me want to eat. I think it’s part of the hibernation instinct. Unfortunately, our hibernation instinct has gone haywire as we’ve evolved. Bears feast in the fall, put on fat, and then stop eating and hibernate. Humans, on the other hand, start eating more as the temperatures fall, put on fat and keep eating so they end up with even more weight to deal with in the spring.

We subconsciously love the whole concept of hibernation: slow down, stop exercising and running around, eat a bunch of wonderful, rich foods and hang out at home.

Can you imagine anything less healthy? Maybe. Probably. But not much.

So what do we do?

I don’t know about you, but we’re not going to be eating the cold salads and fresh vegetable like we did this summer. Not that I’m giving up fresh vegetables and fruit. The key, as always, is moderation and modification. I’m certainly not giving up the winter recipes we enjoy, but I’ll use chicken instead of beef when I can, and still try to eat fish once a week. I’ll cut back on butter and cream and use lower fat, flavorful, substitutes.

My husband and I will still eat healthy meals, it’s just time to switch up flavor profiles. Burgundy instead of Bar-B-Que; tuna steaks instead of cold tuna salads; Garbure (a French soup/stew) instead of Gazpacho (a Spanish cold tomato vegetable soup). You get the picture.

I think the key is planning meals in advance rather than falling into old habits and old patterns because they’re easier. The next time you pull out a recipe for an old favorite, study it and figure out how you can keep the flavor, but lower the calories and fat content. It’s not about doing without, it’s about modifying what you have. With some effort, you can end up next spring weighing less, not more.

Oh, and by the way, we’ll still be eating fresh fruits, vegetables and salads. Just maybe not as often.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

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Greetings to all!

I want to give you a “heads up” about an exciting project I’m almost done with. I’m finishing up the writing of an e-book titled: “Stop Dieting Forever: A healthy, natural way to lose weight.” It’s available on Amazon for just $2.99.

847-468-5838I have worked on this book for awhile now and was inspired this summer to finish it. In it I write about my weight loss journey, what I learned about diets and why they don’t work, and a layman’s understanding of the psychology of weight loss. I’m a writer and fine artist, not a health care provider, nutritionist or therapist, but I know what worked for me to finally lose 100 pounds and keep it off.

The writing is done and the editing and formatting is beginning. I’m planning on having the eBook ready on Amazon by the end of the year. It will be published first as a Kindle book which can be read on any computer, tablet or phone using a free Kindle app. I hope to eventually offer it as a physical, bound, book as well.

It’s been a great journey reviewing the beliefs and systems I challenged over a five year period and proved to either work or not. Now I will be sharing this process with you.

I will be announcing the release of the book on this website. If you have not taken the time to subscribe to this blog yet, I encourage you to do so so you will know exactly when the book is available.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

Winter is coming – soon!

Greetings!

As the temperatures drop here in the Rocky Mountain region, I find myself dwelling more on food. I wonder what it is about cold weather that leads me there. A lot of it is thoughts of winters growing up with rich stews, soups and hot chocolate after a day in the snow.

If course, the problem with thinking about all of this is that it makes me feel hungry even though I’m not actually hungry. I find myself wanting to get in the kitchen, turn on the oven and cook. It’s too hot in the summer to spend much time in the kitchen and a lot of our summer meals are cold salads and refreshing cold dishes with fresh fruits, vegetables and light sauces. Even my appetite seems less in the summer.

Not so with winter. While I’m anticipating making our typical winter chili, soups, stews and casseroles, I’m also reminded of the decrease in exercise I’m going to be able to do. As I get older, it seems like the winter freeze gets to my bones and I’m more uncomfortable outside when the temperatures drop below 50º. There will be fewer walks around the neighborhood with our dog, Vinney, for awhile. I’m going to have to find something else to do physically.

How does winter affect your appetite and exercise? Do you spend more time cooking, and what do you like to cook best on frosty winter days?

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

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Berries, weight lossThe last time I wrote I was looking forward to summer’s arrival. We live in Denver, Colorado, where winters can be brutal. Living with fibromyalgia (my fibro site is (581) 275-9967) in the snow and cold is miserable. It’s been a good summer, and with any luck from Mother Nature, we should have another 8-10 weeks of it.

I wrote about how, after losing 100 pounds and keeping it off for years, I began to gain weight with no explanation. I had changed nothing in my eating habits. My exercise was minimal as it always is because of my fibro. The only thing I could think of was perhaps one of my doctors had made a change in my medication that I had not paid sufficient attention to, and the fact that from 2011 to 2012 my father was dying from Alzheimer’s. Stress releases cortisol. This is a short excerpt from WebMD:

 . . . cortisol works on a different timetable. Its job is to help us replenish our body after the stress has passed, and it hangs around a lot longer. It can remain elevated, increasing your appetite and ultimately driving you to eat more . . . 

Whatever the reason, I gained 30 pounds during those two years and was simply unable to take it off. Then my daughter tried an online weight loss program and lost eight pounds although she had very little to lose. This program consisted of taking their natural supplements and drinking their nutritional shakes for breakfast, along with eating normal, non-diet food. There was no “diet plan.” I tried it and only lost three pounds, but it was three pounds! I was thrilled. What this weight loss program did for me was to kickstart my body into losing weight..*

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe dieting is good for your body or your spirit. A diet is something you go on to lose as much weight as possible, as quickly as possible, so you can go back to your normal life. You don’t learn anything on a diet. You do what you’re told to do, eat what you’re told to eat and, many times, eat the food the diet program sells you. Once you go off the diet you have no understanding of how your particular body loses weight — each person is so different! — and just how much you need to eat to continue to lose or maintain your weight.

I started walking as soon as the weather was better. That was late May/early June and have tried to walk at least three times a week. I do better on some weeks and not so good on other weeks. The thing is, I’m starting to lose the weight – even though I turned 60! I’ve lost 18 pounds from my highest weight in 2013 and have 12 to go.

I’m drawing three conclusions:

  • Some exercise, even if it’s just walking to the mailbox or up the street one house length, is making a difference. I started out very small, just to the top of the street and back, and built up my endurance slowly. If I had tried to walk a mile right from the beginning, I would have felt terrible and stopped exercising at all. I still need to figure out what to do come winter when it’s too cold to be outside.
  • Eating a little more, rather than less, may be what your body needs. When I was sick last year with severe stomach problems, I was struggling to eat 1,000 calories a day. I still don’t have much of an appetite, but forcing myself to eat more protein seems to make a big difference in losing weight.

*My policy is not to recommend, or post negative opinions about, any specific weight loss program. Choosing a program is extremely personal, with so many variables, that I’m unqualified to suggest anything.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart