Setting S.M.M.A.R.T. Goals

When you set a goal related to your health and fitness, to give yourself the best chance at achieving that goal you need to make it SMMART.
Specific – When creating your goals, make sure you specify the who, what, when, where, why, and how of what you are planning.

Measurable – Avoid setting goals that you can’t quantifiably measure or track.

Motivational – Your goal should motivate you and those around you. If you are not excited about working toward achieving your goal, then perhaps you should rethink your motivations for achieving the goal in the first place. In the health industry sometimes you will find that the goal does not motivate you, but you need to do it to extend your life. If that is the case, use external motivations such as your family and friends to motivate you to achieve your goals.

Attainable – It is good to be ambitious, but do not be so ambitious that your goal becomes impossible to achieve. If you currently can only walk a mile before you are winded, it is not a great idea to say you are going to run a half marathon in 2 months.

Relevant – Ask yourself if your goal is worthwhile and worth your time. While a goal to eliminate gluten from your diet will help if you have a gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten may not be relevant to your overall goal of improving your health.

Time Bound – Set a time frame for when to complete the goal. Will it take a month, a year, a lifetime? It is up to you to decide, but a goal without a deadline will never be achieved.

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6 Organizations that are Fighting Childhood Obesity

2 Weeks to Health is dedicated to encouraging public education regarding health and fitness. Our currently reach is minimal compared to some larger non-profits who have a larger reach for stopping obesity. This article points out just a few organizations that focus their efforts at least partly on childhood obesity prevention and reduction. I encourage everyone to check them out and donate your time or money as you see fit. It will take more than a village to make a cultural change in how we eat and view our health, and these organizations are just part of the 2 Weeks to Health mission to encourage, education, and exercise.

Obesity Action Coalition http://www.obesityaction.org/

Campaign to End Obesity http://www.obesitycampaign.org/

National Childhood Obesity Foundation http://www.ncof.org/

Choices: Fighting Childhood Obesity http://www.choicesforkids.org/

World Obesity http://www.worldobesity.org/

Alliance for a Healthier Generation https://www.healthiergeneration.org/

Do you know any other organizations that are fighting obesity, small or large? Please comment below.

Fruits and Vegetables

Low Carb Diet vs. High Starch Diet: Which One is Better? The Answer May Not be so Obvious

Probably the most confusing part of nutrition is just trying to figure out how to eat healthily. This is difficult because you have doctors, trainers, and nutritionists who all say different things, which just confuses all of us, including myself.

Just for fun, I asked the general public using Quora what the pros and cons of high starch (high-carb) diets are. Generally, we accept that a low carbohydrate diet helps with weight loss, so I wanted to see what people thought about a high starch / high carb diet. The answers I received were very different from one another. One “advocate of low carb lifestyle” explained that a high starch diet is the cause of obesity, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, and cancer, and these occur because of the lack of human adaptation to an agriculturally based diet. An athletic trainer commented saying there are absolutely no pros to a high starch diet and that the whole idea is a fraud. A food security consultant countered that viewpoint saying complex carbohydrates like what are found in starches are not the problem, simple carbohydrates such as sugar is the problem. There were a couple comments that I would consider to be the ‘voices of reason’ that explained the conditions of each diet, and how it depends on what you need individually. Then someone posted saying the only cons to a high starch diet are that “people love to eat what they have always eaten. You will be made fun of and ostracized by the ignorant…Eat starch be healthier and live better.” With only 12 answers to my question, I got a full spectrum of answers.

 

 

 

Here’s another good example of this spectrum of opinions. Both of these books were written by very intelligent doctors, and both books are highly rated best sellers. The difference is one book is telling you to eat zero grains to lose or maintain your weight, while the other book is saying you should eat predominately starches, which include grains, to lose or maintain your weight. So hold on a second, no wonder everyone is confused, these books are telling you to do two completely different things to lose weight.

It turns out there is a very simple reason why people have seen such great successes and such great failures with both diets. Losing weight is more of a factor of energy use and consumption rather than the kinds of foods you are eating. So 1000 calories of starches are pretty much the same as 1000 calories of beef in the context of weight loss. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other health benefits besides just weight loss. The general consensus believes that a plant based diet is healthier than a diet based on animal products. That should mean a starch based vegan diet like what is described in the book The Starch Solution should be healthier than a no-grain diet as described in The No-Grain Diet. Nonetheless, people are living healthy lives on both of these diets. How are both of these polar opposite diets allowing us to stay healthy?

I believe the answer is simple, both diets allow you to eat fruits and vegetables and encourage a vast majority of your calories to come from them. A typical meal on a high starch diet, according to the book, will consist of mostly fruits and vegetables with perhaps some dish with beans, corn, rice, and/or potatoes. A typical meal on the no grain diet, according to the book, will also consist of mostly fruits and vegetables but will also include a portion of meat. When eating a diet with a large focus on fruits and vegetables it’s hard to go wrong. Where people begin to see problems with their no-grain/low-carb or high-starch/high-carb diet is they will not base their diet on fruits and vegetables, but rather eat other foods that fall into their diet category. For example, someone may begin a low-carb diet and only eat beef, pork, and chicken with no other food groups.

Regardless of what diet you choose, if you want to be successful, start by filling your plate with the fruits and vegetables your diet allows.  The remaining calories you can fill with anything. The high carb high starch diet says to fill it with rice, pasta, and potatoes. The no grain diet says to fill it with meat and dairy. One or the other may fit you better, but both, when prioritizing fruits and vegetables, can help you lose weight and stay healthy. That is why both books, although contradictory to one another, are highly rated by the readers. There are many ways to reach your goals, so if one way doesn’t work for you, try another and you may be surprised that something you once believed to be the cause of weight gain can actually help you lose weight.

How Many Calories are Too Few When Dieting?

There is a common misconception that the fewer calories you eat, the faster you will lose weight. Although this is mostly true, there is a cutoff where you shouldn’t eat any fewer calories. Why is this? It turns out most of the calories you burn are from your normal bodily processes such as digestion, breathing, pumping blood, etc. Your body needs a certain amount of calories per day for these processes, and this rate of calorie burn is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

If you eat fewer calories than your BMR, your body doesn’t have enough energy to perform its basic functions, and you begin to go into starvation. Your body will go into a process called ketosis, which means your body is breaking down fats to feed your body. Sounds great right? Well not really, although your body will break down fats faster, it plays havoc with the rest of your health. Your brain can’t use these broken down fats, and begins using ketones for energy instead. However, your brain can only get about 75% of its energy from ketones, and your mental capacity is reduced. Your brain will also begin to want the remaining 25% capacity to be filled, and will want more glucose. This may cause sugar cravings, and if you manage to beat the cravings, your body will start breaking down proteins (your muscles) to get that glucose. Your body begins cannibalizing itself. In extreme cases, your immune system will break down, and organ failure may begin.

The moral of the story is to not eat fewer calories than your BMR. To calculate you BMR you can visit www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator. The calculator will ask you for your height, weight, age, and gender. Using these it can give you an estimate of what your BMR is. Then when you are planning for your next diet, plan to never go below this caloric value, or your body will become less efficient, and you will at the very least become very ‘hangry’.