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“Diet May Be As Important To Mental Health As It Is To Physical Health”

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This February 24, 2015 Huffington post article talks about information that seems to point to the importance of a healthy diet for mental health as well as physical health.

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“Diet Soda: Fewer Calories In The Glass May Mean More On The Plate”

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This January 17, 2014, NPR: The Salt article talks about ongoing research that looks at diet sodas and whether they help or hinder with weight loss.  The findings seem to be indicating that people who drink diet sodas tend to eat more calories worth of solid food than folks who drink regular sodas.  They also found that folks who drink diet sodas tend to gain weight and are more likely to become obese then people who don’t drink diet sodas.

English: Diet Coke Products

English: Diet Coke Products (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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“Pinpointing the higher cost of a healthy diet”

The Healthy Eating Pyramid, from the Harvard S...

The Healthy Eating Pyramid, from the Harvard School of Public Health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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This December 5, 2013 article on the Harvard Gazette website talks about a recent study where they compared the price per day of a healthy diet as compared to an unhealthy diet.

“Lifestyle changes that can treat mild depression”

A-bike walking

A-bike walking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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This July 22, 2013 article found on the Phillyburbs website talks about small changes that can make a big difference in one’s mental health

“Serious Mental Illness No Barrier to Weight Loss Success”

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This March 21, 2013 article on the Science Daily website talks about a recent study that seems to show that folks with serious mental illnesses can successfully lose weight if they are given simple nutritional messages, counseling to support their efforts, and regular exercise to help them become more active.

 

 

Tools I’m using to help me lose weight

I’ve been working on losing weight, but until recently really was going at it blindly (so to speak)  My first steps were to focus on portion sizes and look at what I was eating and see if I could find a healthier alternative.  An example of one such swap I made in what I eat was to replace ham with dry beans.  The beans have as much protein as meat, but without being packed full of salt like ham is.  The beans seem to go well with everything I was using ham for … well except for sandwiches something about a pile of beans on bread just didn’t seem to appetizing so for sandwiches I use Tuna that had been packed in water.

So what other tools am I using you ask?  Well, I found several that come in handy 🙂

Here’s a list of the tools …..

  • this site is maintained by the USDA and offers a way to find out how many calories are in foods that don’t have labels …. I was able to find out that a tangerine has about 37 calories, through this site which has decreased my frustration when it comes to fresh produce not having labels indicating their calories or serving size.  I should note that the site works great under MS Internet Explorer, but seems to be a nightmare using Mozilla Firefox.
  • Calculator
    • I find that using a calculator to add up the calories is helpful, since for me math is a weakness and trying to do it in my head offers less than accurate results.  I take my calculator with me to the grocery store already to help with comparing prices, so now I have started using it to also compare calories if I want to know how many calories the package has in it or even going the other way, to check and see how many calories a serving that fits my calorie limit would be … this helps to see if it would be worth getting something or not … something about eating 3 bites of something as opposed to being able to have something that looks more like a plate of food makes it easier to stay in my calorie limit.
  • packaging labels
    • with the exception of fresh produce, and deli type stuff, labels are pretty plentiful.  even without a calculator, simply reading the label on things can help me make a better informed decision about calories and in general what’s in the package.
  • Measuring tools
    • dry and liquid measuring cups, along with a set of measuring spoons can help immensely since they are more accurate than simply trying to eye up what is going on my plate.  I’m actually seriously considering getting a couple more sets of dry measuring cups and measuring spoons so I don’t run into a deal where I forgot to wash a measuring spoon only to need it for my next meal and not realize this until I go to prepare the meal.  it would give me a little more flexibility in that sense.
  • Exercise
    • I know exercise is a word that to some is as brutal as the “F” word in terms of its impact.  The reality is that I’m finding that exercise doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t need a gym membership which for me wouldn’t be all that practical because of my lack of a vehicle.
    • So my tools for exercising more
    • I purchased a Wii game system solely because of one game that really intrigued me.  The game is called “Walk It Out” made by Konami.  The game requires that the player walk in step to the beat of fast tempo music.  some of the songs include “Walking on Sunshine” or “Boom Boom Pow” which are some of the slower paced songs.  other songs that can be unlocked include those with latino type tempos and I’ve found a couple that I think might be an Asian version of hip hop or rock.  the Latino and Asian songs are among the fastest paced songs.  You earn chips or points for every step you take that is right on the beat of the music, and unless you turn off the penalty you will lose chips for missing a beat, the points are collected and used to pay for capsules you click on as you walk around rhythm Island.  some capsules cost as little as 20 chips while capsules need about 1000 chips.  I started playing and could only play for about 10 minutes, but have reached a point to where my average is closer to an hour or hour an a half … an off day is a half hour or less.  the game counts your steps calculates how many calories you burned and even tells you how many miles you walked while playing.  The graphics are in true Nintendo style being rather cartoonish in nature, but despite the cartoon nature of it, I find it to be a great way to get a workout in on days that the weather is bad or my anxiety is too high for me to be able to go out and walk around my neighborhood.
    • I’m also considering getting another game called “Step Up” which based on the description sounds like you step on and off either a basic aerobic step or a Wii balance board to the beat of music.  I thought it might be something that could offer some variety to my workouts.
  • Mapquest – http://mapquest.com
    • So how does mapquest help me with losing weight?  Simple  I use it to map out routes to walk and to find out how far I walked when I was out running errands on foot.  Mapquest offers a nice feature that includes walking directions, and it will adjust the travel time to fit with someone walking as opposed to other sites I’ve seen that only offer times based on driving.  The only downfall is that mapquest doesn’t understand shortcuts through parks at times, so it isn’t precise, but it does offer a decent estimate of the distance traveled.  and is kind of fun to play with different routes and see how much distance I will cover if I go different routes.

    I have spoken with my primary care physician about my weight loss goal, and found out what he recommended in the way of calorie intake and daily exercise.  I have arthritis in my lower spine, so talking to my doctors is something I felt was very important to do because they would be able to tell me if something I was considering trying would be good or bad for  my arthritis.  Not to mention it is good to have someone with more knowledge then me onboard when I’m working on a health issue, just to be sure I am doing things safely.

    I’ll try to do future updates to let folks know how this is going, but so far I’ve lost about 10 pounds since last September.  Progress is slow, but considering when I started I weighed a little more than twice what I weighed 10 years ago, I consider any progress towards my goal of weighing about what I weighed when I got my driver’s license 10 years ago to be a good thing.

     

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