Friday, February 26, 2010

Myth Buster #1

A fellow 'Junkie' follower asked me this question in an email about a month ago. I am just now getting around to it. I like the question because I think it pertains to SO MANY women out there...

Here was part of the email:
In the past few years (really I've just noticed it the last two-three years really) there just seems to be this "surge" of "get fit quick" or "use this product to lose weight" do you know what's right/what's wrong/what's good/what's bad? I don't really "buy into" the idea of certain programs, but they just seem to be everywhere...I know, for some people, they work; I've seen it...My mom used Weight Watchers last year and lost 15 pounds, but as soon as she stopped Weight Watchers, she put the weight back on. I know for some people NutriSystem works or whatever the "latest craze" seems to be, but I think that's it,'s a "craze" not a lifestyle. There just seems to be SO MANY different ways to lose weight/get fit...diets, weight lose systems, exercises, programs to follow...what do you do to find "the one" or "the way" to do it that is most beneficial for you?
The Weigh Down Approach says to only eat when you're hungry...
The Flat Belly Plan says to eat every 4 hours...
The Eat-Clean Diet is made up of mostly natural foods...
Some diets say to count calories...Some diets say don't...
Some diets say eat lots of fruit and vegetables...Some diets say "calories are calories, not matter what you eat." If I only ate when I was hungry, I would only eat about once a day...usually around 11:00AM; that's the only time my belly every really "growls" at me to eat. If I ate every 4 hours, I would be so full and feel miserable (all the time) I do believe it's important to eat food at its most natural state, if possible. There are so many different "calories counts" out there...some people say 2000 calories a day, some people say 1200...some people say it depends on your weight...I've heard you say that you need to burn more calories than you put in...well, how do you do that? If I was to eat 1200 calories a day (which, by the way, I have no idea how much I eat), there's NO WAY I can burn that much...even if I do an exercise you suggest (which I have done) I only burn about 500! How do you do that? What do you do? How do you distinguish what you should do and what you should not?
Just curious...Callie

Love this question. Problem is, it's complicated. First, I have to reiterate the fact that I am not a nutrionist. I am a "health seeker" like most of you. I have a few fitness certifications, that give me little authority. What I can tell you are most "fad" diets are train wrecks and something that may give you results fast, but not sustaining. Most simply because most of them are not something people can healthfully maintain. Our bodies are made specifically to eat and burn calories. Not to starve. Not to deprive certain natural needs {like GOOD carbs}.

I will be the first to say I am super old fashioned. I believe healthy eating and lots of exercise AS A LIFESTYLE are the keys to long term weight loss or maintenance. I don't research diet trends. They sort of make me crazy. I wonder who on earth would want to eat grapefruits for 3 meals a day. Or drink a drink with cayenne pepper?!? Anything that seems gross or weird or impractical...probably is.

Something to consider is that all of our bodies are different. For me personally, I need to eat every 4 hours. Callie is not that hungry. I think you can listen to your body in that way to know if a certain type of eating style is healthy for you. I also am a big fan of natural, whole foods. Real whole grain. Organic grown. Unprocessed foods. You would be shocked at the health value in natural foods vs. processed food {i.e. food with a lot of added, enriched, hydrogenated, msg, etc}. Don't get me wrong, it is not always how I eat, but I strive to. The good thing there is, most food brands are going the organic route. It's sort of the "cool kid" thing to do.

Weight Watchers is one of the only diet programs I can say makes sense. Portion, nutrient rich foods, and no self deprivation. I think the system works. The problem may be that once people reach a certain goal weight, they start to slack off or quit all together. Maybe start exercising less. There is a whole science to keeping weight off. The older we get, the harder it is, the more we have to move and eat better. That's just the progression of life set out for us. I found this article on Weight Watchers if you are interested.

And then there is the calories in/calories out question. Callie mentioned that when she did a hard workout, she only burned 500 calories. Let me explain this a little better. The average woman should consume around 1600-1800 cals a day {depends on activity level, but we'll just use that for now} perhaps you go running and burn 400 calories {again all depends on height/weight/resting heart rate}. The remainder of your calories are burned in all the other activities you do during the day. Here is what's so important. After you workout, your body rapidly burns calories for a fixed amount of time. For instance, I generally burn around 525 calories during my Turbokick class. I will leave the Y, run and errand for 15 minutes, drive home and will have burned 725 calories. That's why you want to get moving. I think it is soooo good to get one of these for you to see how hard you are working during your workouts. Sometimes you think you are doing a lot, but the HR monitor will show you otherwise. It changed the way I push myself!

Ok, so I your heads are probably spinning! Feel free to comment, ask for clarification or refute anything you you like! I would love to have a Myth Buster #2! Remember you can email us at or leave a comment and PLEASE become a follower!!


  1. It's like I'm famous! :) Thanks for not forgetting...I hope it helps a lot of women out there...
    I think we all need a balance and we all need grace. If you fall off or "step away" from healthy eating or working out (I finally went to the gym tonight after a week) for a bit, just get back on. Don't quit or get frustrated...allow yourself a little grace and let go of the guilt...

  2. Okay, well I found your blog a while back and I'm a follower and even though you're not a nutritionist, you know you're stuff! Love that you started a website to help others Stay and Be Healthy. My degree is in health and exercise physiology, former P.E. teacher now a SAHM and pretty much everything you say is RIGHT ON TARGET! Thank the blog by the way!

  3. Nicki,
    I'm like in EP and spent 4 years learning about this kind of stuff...and you do know your stuff!

    But there is something that I want to add to your stuff. As for the HR monitors/calorie counters...we all know they aren't 100% accurate, but they're a good ballpark figure, right? Right. Well I discovered that for myself mine grossly underestimates how many calories I burn in a workout. Because I'm a health nerd, I've had my VO2max tested and all that good stuff and I know all the formulas to calculate calorie burning and what not, and I actually sat down with one of my professors about a year ago and determined my calorie burn from my turbokick class. My monitor said I burned like 700 cal (or something like that) and when we plugged all of my specific info into all the different formulas it came out to over 1000 calories! I was shocked at how off the monitor was--but insanely happy that it underestimated instead of overestimated! :)
    Now, I am not sure if this is the general trend for everybody, but I know that for me personally thats the way it is. I would also assume that for other fit females out there with a higher VO2max that their calorie counters would probably underestimate for them too. Just my tid bit of info.

    Oh and also, I totally agree with you about the fad diets. NO GOOD! DO NOT TRY THEM. Like you, I think that Weight Watchers is really the only one out there with any credibility, BUT my problem with Weight Watchers is that there is not a # of points for each meal, just for each day. Since thats the case, someone could skip breakfast, lunch, and dinner and eat a whole cake or something ridiculously unhealthy to consume all of their points. I think that WW should incorporate points for meals instead of points for days.

    Whew. Okay, I'm done for real this time.

  4. lindsey, that's right! i remember you telling me about that! i would LOVE to know what mine actually is! i like the HR monitors to at least give you a ballpark of how hard you work. LOVE your expert comments! please keep them coming!!!!

  5. Lindsey-I TOTALLY agree about your point on weight watchers...I have told people that for years. Not really good to allow them to go out and splurge on an entire chocolate cake just because they were "good" all week! Ugh! But other than that, I have no complaints about it. As I have always told people that are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, it's ALL ABOUT MODERATION!! and some exercise too! I suggest a local 5K! They get you motivated, you are able to be social in your community and most are for a GREAT cause, plus you get some exercise while you're at it! ...a way to stay active if you are having a hard time staying motivated!! Just a suggestion! More need to know about your great blog, Nicki!

  6. I'm really enjoying this blog as well as your party planning blog.
    I must say, WW has been so wonderful for me. It was the one way that my doctor recommended me to lose weight. It really is a lot more effective when you are able to attend the meetings. But, you can only do what your budget will allow!
    Speaking of budget, I have a request. Can you give some tips/ideas on your party blog for throwing a party on a budget? Would love to see your ideas!
    Thanks for the great blogs!

  7. if you girls ever want to post some heart-healthy recipes, just let me know-I'd love to contribute a few!! their quick and easy and my kids even LOVE them!

  8. Bring on the recipes!!! You can email them to!!!

  9. Yes!! I would love any recipes- I struggle with cooking a yummy, healthy dinner that the hubs will enjoy- but doesn't take too much time/preparation due to working long hours during the day! Thanks so much!!!