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Scale Back Alabama Blog

This year, we are excited to bring you the Scale Back Alabama Blog – featuring tips and advice from some of the health professionals who make Scale Back Alabama possible each year. We will be adding new blog posts each week during the ten-week challenge.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Did you know that if we all ate and exercised the exact same way, we would still all look completely different? This is something I’ve had to remind not only my patients but myself when it comes to maintaining positive body image while trying to lose weight. In my 10+ years as a dietitian, I have worked with patients who have decided to pursue a weight loss journey for a variety of reasons. However, regardless of the reason, maintaining a positive body image through the experience is important. One of my most favorite Health at Every Size (HAES) dietitians, Cara Harbstreet, often shares this: “When you think about the way you eat or exercise, ask yourself, ‘Am I doing this because I love my body, or hate my body?” If we’re eating or exercising a certain way from a place of hate for our body, we’re likely to see our interventions as a negative experience such as depriving ourselves of certain foods, cutting out entire food groups, or eating at a very low calorie level. In regards to exercise, we may see physical activity as punishment and not think to choose a type of exercise or activity that seems pleasurable. On the flip side, when we’re coming from a place of love for our body and overall body positivity, we may choose new dietary habits that focus on all the things we’re interested in adding more of to our diet, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, eating more home-cooked meals with our family, or thoughtfully drinking more water because we’re aware of its benefits to our body. Our physical activity... read more

Finding Your Why – How I Motivate Myself to Exercise

Have you ever stopped what you’re doing and said to yourself, “I can’t wait to work out and get paralyzed by lactic acid?” Me either! But I do have a laundry list of “motivators” that push me from the couch to the track, elliptical machine or walking path. In no particular order, here are some of the “whys” to help me bust a move… Science! There are tons of research that link exercise to a better, longer life. When I have an active lifestyle and a smart diet, I am reducing my risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer and a whole lot of other things I’d like to avoid. My mom used to tell me, “It’s better to avoid a heart attack than try to recover from one!” She was right… as always. Spirituality! My body is a divine gift. Failing to take good care of it is the equivalent of squandering a present that God gave me. In the film, “The Ten Commandments” some members of the tribes of Israel are freed from Pharaoh’s bondage, only to squander the gift and worship idols. When I’m exercising, I’m not wasting His gift. Gratitude! In college, my stomach would fill with butterflies each afternoon as I dreaded the upcoming track team workout. I still get anxiety if a trip to the track is in my near future. But during the workout, I think about people who are physically challenged and would give anything in the world to be in my place. One day, age will prevent me being able to vigorously work out. I am grateful... read more

You ARE NOT What You Eat

Adopting an all or nothing mindset of good and bad foods can feel really motivating at first. You start strong, on a Monday, of course. You swear you’re never touching a carbohydrate again. “Bye-bye dessert. It’s been a good run.” In the beginning, you might feel pretty empowered. You’re sticking to your plan, making the right choices. You must be a good or healthy person because those are the only foods you eat now. You may feel like you’ve started a new lifestyle; you’ll be able to keep this up forever. But, there comes a time when that initial burst of motivation wears off and you eat one of those bad foods you’ve sworn off. Chances are, you’re feeling pretty lousy at this point. If eating healthy food makes you a healthy person, what does eating bad food make you? Now that you’ve officially blown your diet, you might as well finish off the rest of that box of thin mints and start over tomorrow (or next Monday)… right? This is how we get stuck in a cycle of shame. We deprive ourselves of the foods we enjoy and then we feel ashamed when we can’t maintain a rigid diet long-term. We feel like we’re failing, when in fact, the unrealistic diet expectations have failed us. I’m using “we,” because I’ve been there, too! As a dietitian, my perspective and understanding of a healthy lifestyle has changed quite a bit from where I started. These days I’m focusing a lot more on behaviors and a lot less on the numbers on the scale, and I want to invite you... read more

The Next Right Thing

I get stuck when I look too far ahead. My mind comes up with wonderful ideas, dreams, plans, and goals of lovely things that I hope to achieve. I make lists, collect resources, and even tell others about my magnificent ideas. The problem is when I try to get started. I know where I want to end up, but the gap between that place and where I stand today feels like a marathon that I don’t have the time or energy to race. I stand at the starting line, gazing ahead into the distance, wishing I had superpowers to zoom ahead to the finish. Whoosh! Pow! “And she wins the gold!! Unbelievable!!” Then I remember life’s not a comic book, and I’m not Wonder Woman, and unfortunately I’m just going to have to run the race or get out. And so oftentimes, I do get out, grabbing a sad consolation prize as I leave my goals in the dust. For many, achieving health goals can feel a lot like that marathon. We picture where we want to be, but the distance between now and the finish line seems insurmountable. Health becomes a fantasy that only the most disciplined can achieve. So many of us don’t even try. Or, we look for “superpowers” in the form of fad diets and restrictive regimes. These “powers” might work for a while, only to be sabotaged by Grandma Betty’s decadent chocolate pie that leaves us on the couch moaning, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” Our bodies can’t function with long-term restriction. We decide we’ve failed and leave the race, all... read more