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Is your diet ruining your relationship?

Today’s post is about a new research study that’s right up my alley! My first book (with my co-author Denise Maher), Your Diet is Driving Me Crazy: When Food Conflicts Get in the Way of Your Love Life was all about how food impacts your relationship, and how your relationship impacts food.

The book was based on my relationship, as well as the dozens of couples I’ve counseled, whose food conflicts created major barriers, to not only intimacy and communication, but also to health. At that time (the book was published in 2004), there wasn’t a lot of good research about this topic. There were some stats about how couples tend to gain weight after marriage, and since the book was finished, I’ve seen some interesting studies about how women in unhappy marriages tend to gain the most weight.

But today, I read about a brand new study, conducted by researchers at Ryerson University in Toronto, that looked at how significant others respond when their partners attempted to make healthy dietary changes.

The study’s authors conducted interviews with 21 people making dietary changes (mostly for medical reasons). The partners’ responses varied widely, from co-operation and encouragement to skepticism and anger, despite the fact that the significant others described themselves as being supportive.

These conclusions absolutely parallel what I’ve found in working with couples. My book is a collection of case studies based on real people I’ve worked with (along with exercises & solutions), and I’ve found that food is one of the most emotionally-provoking dynamics in a relationship. When one partner changes his or her eating habits (whether out of desire or necessity), it absolutely impacts the other partner, and the relationship itself.

Dietary changes don’t just impact what foods are brought into the house. They can impact the couple’s social life, the way they spend time together, and how they bond; and these changes can trigger fear, anger, frustration, and even shame. For example, when one partner begins eating healthfully, it can mean no more getting pizza & a DVD on Friday nights, sharing buckets of popcorn at the movies, going out for ice cream, or trying new restaurants. For many couples, spending time together primarily involves eating, and eating in carefree, fun, indulgent ways.

Changing those rituals can feel like a major loss for some partners, particularly when they didn’t choose it themselves and weren’t prepared for it. And if you were brought up to bond over food, or show love with food it can be even tougher. As supportive and loving as a significant other may be, dietary changes can really throw a relationship for a loop! I can give you countless examples, but here are a few scenarios I’ve encountered:

When one partner starts eating healthfully, the other can begin to feel embarrassed or ashamed of the (less healthy) way they eat (consciously or unconsciously). And feeling this way is not an emotion we like as humans. Seeing your partner eat fresh fruit while you munch on Cheetos can make you feel kinda bad, and even without realizing it, you might react by sabotaging them, or beginning to resent them. You might even feel judged, even if they’re not at all criticizing you or asking you to change.

When one partner starts eating healthfully, the other can become insecure about the relationship itself. They may (again unconsciously) worry that if their partner loses weight, and becomes more vibrant, they will be more attractive to others. This can stir up feeling or abandonment, or fears of infidelity, even if they’re unfounded. I have seen this scenario result in sabotage, bickering, jealousy, and controlling behavior.

When one partner starts eating healthfully, the other can feel like they’ve lost their “partner in crime.” Sometimes our partner is the one person in our lives we feel safe “letting loose” with. In fact, pigging out together can be a very intimate experience for some couples (laying in bed and eating ice cream, cooking a big meal together, etc.). We typically don’t eat the way we do in front of our partner in front of anyone else – eating in an uninhibited way can feel like one of the most fundamental ways of “being yourself.” When that changes, it can feel like losing a confidant, and can cause couples to struggle a bit to find other ways to share that level of intimacy.

Very interesting, complex stuff! The good news is there are effective ways of addressing these feelings, resolving them, improving communication, and restoring harmony in the relationship. That’s what my whole book was about. I included lots of exercises and tips for how to talk to each other about these feelings (or even uncover them) – that can be tough – but once they’re out there, and they can be addressed more rationally, it’s amazing how powerful and positive the impact is on the relationship. I’ve had clients go from feeling completely unsupported and abandoned, to feeling closer to their partner than they ever have before.

If you’ve made healthy dietary changes, how did your partner react?

Are You Going to Die Early?

We know that certain behaviours are linked to early mortality, but according to a recent study, researchers have discovered that people with a particular personality trait are likely to die earlier.

So what is that trait?

The Purdue University study, as reported by Reuters, found that men who are prone to stress, anxiety and worry – also known as higher levels of neuroticism – are likely to die earlier than their peers. Why? In part because such neurotic behaviour is more likely to lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a fondness for using smoking, drinking and drugs as coping mechanisms.

The study found that smoking accounted for as much as 40 percent of the association between high neuroticism and mortality; the other 60 percent was attributed to biological and environmental factors.

“Research shows that higher levels of neuroticism can lead to earlier mortality, and we wanted to know why,” said researcher Daniel Mroczek, a professor of child development and family studies, who added that a better understanding between personality traits and health-related choices may help improve intervention and prevention programs. “It also may be possible to use personality traits to identify people who, because of their predispositions, are at risk for engaging in poor health behaviors such as smoking or excessive drinking,” he said.

Aim High When It Comes to Your Fitness Goals

I often put science-y type links in my articles, but not this time. This time I don’t have any research, just gut instinct, personal experience and some anecdotal evidence. In other words, you can take this post or leave it.

I’ve written about achieving fitness goals before and how focusing on the short-term will help you achieve your long-term wishes. But I’ve never written about how making lofty goals can actually help you sustain a certain level of health.

You’ve probably heard stories about people who lost a bunch of weight and then gained it all back. It leaves many with the false impression that permanent weight loss is this mythical creature that doesn’t exist, like an ‘American Idol’ winner who actually has talent.

In my opinion, what really causes people to gain weight back is they achieve their goal, lose their determination, revert to old habits and get fat again. If you bust your butt and restrict your diet to lose a bunch of weight then I’ve got news for you: you have to continue busting your butt and restricting your diet in order to maintain that new shape.

You cannot go back to your old habits or you’re screwed.

And potato-shaped.

I recently interviewed a TV personality for another article about her weight issues and how she was “perpetually trying to lose 10 pounds.” She told me she had stayed at a stable weight for years, which was actually a pretty good and healthy weight, but that she had always desired to be slimmer.

One day, frustrated, she gave up on losing that last bit of weight — and stopped taking care of herself. Within months she gained 30 pounds. She eventually got in gear again and is now holding steady at her previous weight. But she’s still striving to lose those 10 pounds. It’s the desire to be a little slimmer that keeps her stable.

The same goes for me.

I recently wrote an article about my personal quest for six-pack abs, but it never really happened. I achieved more like a four-pack — something I never thought I’d be able to sustain. Five months later, I’ve still got that four-pack and I’m holding steady at exactly the same weight.

The reason I’ve been able to do so is simple: I’m still chasing that six-pack — knowing I’ll probably never get there. It helps me sustain what I have.

I’ve witnessed dozens of people maintaining their weight loss because they still want to lose a little bit more. It’s that nagging, unrealized goal that keeps them from gaining weight back.

A New Pair of Running Shoes

I bought a new pair of running shoes yesterday. The purchase was long overdue as the old ones (New Balance) had clocked about five years and who knows how many miles. The consensus seems to be that a habitual runner should swap up their trainers either every six months or 300-500 miles. So, while I didn’t think my old ones were no longer up for the job, all signs were screaming to the fact I should cough up $150 for some new runners.

This was a footwear purchase that required some research as the market is flooded with endless pairs of sneakers boasting advanced support and cushioning technology, motion control and lacing systems all designed to enhance performance and protect the body against injury and pounding. But the whole protective cushioning rationale was recently brought into question by a New York Times story on the benefits of running barefoot or in shoes so thin they mimic being barefoot.

Supporters of this kind of minimal shoe argue that our bodies can not only handle, but were meant to run as nature intended. And while they have studies, facts and figures to support their au naturale theories, one has to point out that nature doesn’t have ashphalt and cement.

Running barefoot through my downtown Toronto neighbourhood would leave my feet vulnerable to substances so disgusting and dangerous that I will spare you the details and not list them here. And until I relocate to an expansive, grassy countryside (never), I want my feet safely swaddled inside a cushiony shoe.

My research turned up all kinds of brands and models proclaiming feats of structural engineering, but I walked the three blocks from my office to the New Balance store, as I had always intended doing.

Eventually, after having my stride scrutinzed (I pronate inward a tad) and ruling out the $200 model, I settled on the WR769 model in baby blue.

Last night I took my new sneaks out on their maiden voyage expecting to run faster, better and stronger, but to be honest, while quite comfortable, there were no miracles. They felt pretty much the same as my old faithfuls. And so, I sit here wondering, does one really need to change their runners every six months? If the answer is, in fact, yes, maybe I will just try going barefoof as one of the things I love about running is the cost effectiveness, and you do the math on $150-$200 a pair, twice a year, for ten years…..I might as well take up hockey.

Dear fellow runners, how often do you change up up your shoes?

8 Reasons Why I Love to Run…And Why You Will Too

1. I love to eat
Running is one of the most time-efficient, calorie-burning exercises around. When I run, that food I’ve eaten gets burned off as heat energy. If I didn’t run, that food would end up getting stored as an unhealthy and unattractive blob around my midsection. Running many kilometres is what got me slim, and it’s what keeps me that way.

2. I love to be outside
Regardless of this great country’s weather extremes, there is something invigorating about spending time outside, especially if you’re sweating while doing it. Whenever I need an excuse to get outside, my running shoes are always right there asking me to strap them on. The opportunities to be outside and running abound. If I drop my kids at a birthday party, I run. When I take them to a karate class, I run. When I wake up early and everyone else is asleep, I run. When TV sucks, I run.

When I want to, I run.

3. I love to explore
When I travel, running gives me an opportunity to get up close and personal with my surroundings. I’ve run through the Rocky Mountains, on islands off the coast of British Columbia, along dirt roads in the BC interior, on ice-covered pathways along Lake Michigan, down the Maui coastline, while dodging insane drivers in Mexico, and past pyramids in Guatemala. I’ve also circumnavigated Disneyland, seen my share of Washington, DC, explored the Halifax coastline, and become familiar with the parks in Hanover, Germany.

All of this, I did on foot. Running.

4. I love using my time efficiently
While running is an enjoyable activity, it is also a tool for getting and staying in shape; a tool that works incredibly well, providing a huge return of burnt calories and improved fitness in a short period of time. For anyone looking to achieve a high level of fitness, running is a great choice.

5. I love to challenge myself
Running allows me to race. It allows me to measure time vs. distance. It allows me to see what weather extremes I can handle. It allows me to push myself to do it even on days that I don’t feel like it. Even when everyday life has become a grind, running always provides a feeling of accomplishment.

6. I love to think
Whether it is about dealing with issues of the past couple of days, planning for the future, or writing a new article in my head, running gives me the chance to just let my mind wander to find new ideas, find solutions to problems, or just find some peace.

7. I love doing what my body was meant to
Evolution programmed my body to run. My ancestors had to chase down prey on foot in order to survive, sometimes stalking it for hours or even days. Nowadays we can just drive to the grocery store, so I get to do my running without having to carry a spear with me.

Running reaches deep down into something primal inside of me. It says, “Yes! You are supposed to do this. You are supposed to be good at it. The survival of your genes depends on it.”

8. I love not dying
Running keeps my weight down and my cholesterol, resting heart rate and blood pressure low. It keeps me healthy and will extend my life, hopefully by a long time.

One thing I don’t love is the way running makes me smell. My wife doesn’t love this either, but that’s what showers are for.

By the way, if you’re into cheesy stories about running, pick up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners and check out my story on page 162. If you’re not interested in paying $16.95 to read 101 cheesy stories and only want to read my cheesy Chicken Soup story for no cost, then go here.

Enjoying the Winter

A couple of weeks ago everyone that I met talk me about the heat on those days, and not just a trivial whether talk but a serious concern. So, I get the Idea of make an intention with the resolution to bring the winter (that it spouse to start t February end, but nobody cares since it never start) to me, rain and gray days where in my mind.
I do a little visualization and thought how nice will be have some rainy days. Two days later it rain, it wasn’t uncommon since it usably rain after a weak of heat like the one that just go by. Then, the next day it rain, and the next, and the day after. It makes me wonder, that was just coincidence or there were something else behind? I’ve never believe in coincidences anyway, so. The next day I weak up and the sky was totally black, it looks like the end of the world, then I knew that was not coincidence, after four days of rain and cloudy sky a storm like this wasn’t normal. Today, and after more rain days in a row, it didn’t rain but it was cloudy all day. Now that I got mi winter I am kind of missing the heat…LOL
Maybe it sound silly, its just rain, but it really amaze me.

Lose 20, Gain 5

My co-workers are starting a ‘Biggest Loser’ competition today. My main goal is not to win the competition but to get back into shape. This seems like a good opportunity to focus on that goal. Ideally, I see myself losing 20lbs of fat and gaining 5lbs of muscle. The competition will most likely be 12 weeks, not that much time.

I have done Atkins once before and it can definitely take the pounds off. However, my wife will not support me if I do Atkins, and I agree with her it is a very lopsided way to lose weight.

I am now thinking about Weight Watchers but am open to any and all suggestions from the 10,000 Thoughts community.

Supporting Actions:
  • I am starting some plan today that will help me keep track of my diet.
  • I am no longer riding the elevator (I work on the 4th floor).
  • I will at least go for a walk when I get home from work each day.
Background Information:
  • I sit in front of a computer an unhealthy amount of time each day.
  • When things are stressful or when I am bored I tend to eat.
  • I have developed a sweet tooth in the last 10 years.

Awesome, finding time to exercise is not easy. The only sure fire way to find time is to wake up earlier than normal and do it first thing. But the only problem with this is your motivation is generally at its lowest when you are lying in your cozy bed in the wee hours of the morning.

God must have a sense of humor, because this Catch-22 is a doozy.

Obviously, though, losing 15 lbs in 8 weeks means you have the motivation to make this change permanent. You will do it.

Have you ever lost a tooth — in your lunch?

Ron Santo is a beloved Chicago character who formerly played on both of the city’s teams in his Major League Baseball career and now serves as a vocal, opinionated Chicago Cubs broadcaster. Now the infamous story of Santo’s toupee catching fire when he got too close to a heater in a press box in 2003 may be outdone by a new tale of losing his tooth in his lunch.

Santo says his tooth popped out when he bit into stadium pizza brought to him during spring training coverage. He rationalized, “The pizza was like probably over a red light. It was a little hard. So I bit into it, and boom.”

The tooth was lodged in the cheese. Fortunately, Santo quickly got a temporary tooth and had a replacement in only two weeks.

Is a sports announcer’s extricated ivory breaking news? Not at all. But seeing your tooth sticking out of any food must be pretty startling whether you’re on the air, at a restaurant, or in the privacy of your own kitchen.

Have you ever lost your tooth in your lunch? What are your crazy tooth-loss stories?

Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack With Seven Heart-Healthy Tips

Author by Natasha Turner

With New Year’s just a couple months away, it won’t be long before many people begin their resolutions to improve their diet, drop their cholesterol, exercise more or shed the holiday pounds. There are, however, seven simple tips that you can incorporate right away to boost your heart health and get a jump start on your wellness goals before suffering any potential holiday setbacks.

1. Minimize your intake of bad fats while increasing your intake of healthy fats — Bad fats are those labeled saturated or hydrogenated, vegetable oil, corn oil, shortening, margarine and cottonseed oil, as well as those in red meat, dairy products and peanuts. Healthy fats are fish oil, olive oil, canola oil, hemp oil, coconut oil and borage oil. Small amounts of butter are recommended over margarine.

2. Try soy — Soy products are very beneficial for heart health as they have been found useful in reducing cholesterol levels. However, limit this to once a day or completely avoid soy if you find it triggers gas, bloating or digestive distress.

3. Include garlic, ginger and onions in your meals — These herbs are beneficial for circulation, as is cinnamon.

More heart-healthy tips.

4. Increase potassium, limit sodium — Increasing your intake of potassium while limiting sodium can reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, cantaloupes and avocados.

5. Become conscious of cholesterol — The best foods that are useful for reducing cholesterol include oat bran, apple pectin (as in applesauce), flaxseed, millet, garlic, turmeric and fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Believe it or not, it’s more likely the carbohydrates in your diet, rather than the fat, which is raising your cholesterol. Therefore, I recommend limiting your consumption of refined carbohydrates in white processed flours, pastries, muffins and other baked goods as well as the sugar in candies, desserts and chocolate to once a week.

6. Keep inflammation in check — You can do this simply by increasing your intake of legumes as a source of vegetable protein, along with fish and chicken for animal protein. Because of the high saturated fat content, red meats should be limited to once or twice a month. Maintaining a dietary balance of 35% carbohydrate, 35% protein and 30% healthy fat will help to promote the production of anti-inflammatory compounds called good eicosanoids, which are beneficial in the reduction of hardening of the arteries.

7. Get moving! 30 Minutes, Three Times a Week — The American Heart Association has added lack of exercise to the list of major risk factors for heart disease. The other risk factors are smoking, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Exercise not only helps fight heart disease — sedentary people who add a little exercise to their daily routines also reduce their risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, depression, anxiety and stress.

Ideally, you should exercise 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes within your target heart rate. But health benefits can be had from simply accumulating 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, such as stair climbing, walking to work or gardening. For optimal aesthetic results and to reverse the signs of aging, you should incorporate short, intense weight training circuits 2-3 times a week. Resistance training, or weight lifting, is an important component of a good fitness program because it increases your strength, decreases body fat and helps improve blood cholesterol levels.

If this sounds daunting, why not consider personal training?

How to Protect My Handsome, Gentle Sons from Domineering Women

Times sure have changed. At least here in the West. My wife, Pam, is thrilled and excited to have three young boys turning into young men. And so am I, of course.

But she’s worried for them: because they’re boys. Because they’re nice, handsome, gentle boys. She’s afraid some domineering woman is going to snatch them up and overpower them completely.

Because when she looks around that’s all she sees: wimpy, haunted, confused, yes-dear type men being (metaphorically) led around by the earlobe by strong, dominant women.

Mind you, she works in the television news business; and there are quite a few tough-cookie chicks in that racket. I go to her work parties and it’s hard not to draw an across-the-board generalization: when the girls say “jump” their menfolk say (in whiny, nasally, groveling tone): “Yes, dear, through which hoop, dear?”

There’s quite a bit of truth to this observation, too, when it comes to my neighborhood. In the park and around the area. The women glowering, complaining, cracking the whip. The men yelping and jumping up to do their bidding.

Is this the future? Or has it always been thus? Please discuss. But she’s infected me with her fear, though; and now I’m wondering if I should start coaching my boys to be tougher, meaner more cold-hearted bastards when the women come flocking.

Because they’re quite handsome-oh, wait, I said that already.

In the meantime, I’m searching for the exact right grade 7 for my oldest, Nick. It’s scary, a scary responsibility! For the first time ever, really, his fate is at a crossroads. Which fork should he take? At age 11, the horrible, terrible life-long onus of having to make choices begins.

I hate having to make choices and wish I could protect him from ever having to do so. But I have no choice in the matter.

At first I sought his input on this one. Then he revealed that the reason he wanted to go to one particular school was a) because it was near a Taco Bell b) because it was near the place where he scores his Game Cube cartridges.

Nix. No more input from him.

Nope. This one’s all on me.

Author by David Eddie and here is another article: How to Deal With Your Boyfriend’s Girl Friends.