Monday, February 28, 2011

Let’s Go Katie!

We have chosen a teen for the Camp Champ Program!  The young lady’s name is Katie – she is 16 years old and lives in Williamson County, TN.  Katie is over 100 pounds overweight and in the morbidly obese range.  In the first eight weeks of our Teen Camp Champ, I expect we can get her out of the morbidly obese range and on her way to a healthy weight!  I will begin meeting with her this week.  At the end of the first eight weeks, I will take Katie to get a haircut & style provided by Jackie Crow at Studio West Hair Salon and a facial & brow shaping provided by Melanie Williams at Melanie Williams Advanced Skincare.  And she will get a fashion makeover at Tickled Pink, a Bellevue boutique owned by Carey & Lori King.  Kudos to these local Nashville businesses for their generosity! 

Katie is "super excited" about doing this and I can't wait to unveil a new Katie.  I will be blogging regularly about our work together, so check back here often.  When I asked Katie’s permission about blogging, she said she would like to share her story so that she can inspire other teenagers to make a change as well.  Chances are you know and/or love a young person who is overweight because one-third of our children & teens are overweight or obese.  Obesity is an epidemic taking over our nation.  So, please share Katie’s story with any teens, parents, teachers, churches, etc by sharing my website and blog.  Help us inspire others to make a healthy change for life!    

Also, if you would like to encourage Katie during her transformation, or would like to share your personal story, please use the comment section below or send me an email so I can share with Katie.  Support and encouragement is always appreciated! 

Obesity is 100% preventable and success is a choice.  Katie is starting today!  What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Success is a Choice

Shawn on Day 1
One of my extremely successful clients has allowed me to share our work together and the fantastic transformation he made to his body and his life.  I first met with Shawn in September of last year.  In his initial email, he said he would like to lose 35-40 pounds and just couldn’t seem to get started.  He said he was sluggish and I could tell by his posture and face that his confidence was fairly low.  I discovered that he had been on blood pressure medication for nearly a decade.  He had lost weight before through fad dieting, but had gained it all back.  He works long office hours and was not getting much exercise at the time.  He also typically eats out every day for lunch.  These were business lunches and were vital for his business relationships.   

So, to kick off his weight loss, I had four goals for him: get active – we decided he would start walking 30 minutes each morning before going to work; make smart choices when dining out – swap steamed veggies for fries, brown rice for white, grilled or baked for “crunchy” meats, and avoid bread baskets and chips & salsa; eat a healthier breakfast – I had him swap his typical L’eggo waffles and Morningstar links with whole grain waffles topped with peanut butter and a sliced banana (which he LOVED); and get plenty of water – limit coffee and sodas and drink eight glasses of water each day.  I also had him keep a food & exercise diary each day so I could give him suggestions on how to improve in each area.  Shawn lost 14.4 pounds in the first month.  We were both ecstatic and I was so proud of him.  He trusted me and did everything I recommended.  I was able to prove to him that through knowledge and encouragement, I could help him drop the weight. 

During the second month, his weekly weight loss started to slow, which is typical.  While some shows on TV show weekly weight loss of ten to even 20 pounds, this is rare and not attainable.  These people on TV are working out for four hours or more a day and are in isolated locations where they aren’t faced with daily life.  So, these shows are not “reality”.  So, it is not practical for most people to lose more than a few pounds per week.  For Shawn to increase his metabolism and to keep the pounds coming off, I recommended he start resistance training.  I advised him to lift weights – even if it was his body weight.  He was hesitant initially and didn’t get in much resistance training during the second month.  Through cardio and eating better, he still lost 7.6 pounds during the second month.  I convinced him to lift weights – once during our meeting when I pushed him to his limits and once on his own.  He discovered he was stronger than he thought and felt great accomplishment after each workout.  I was able to see his body transform before my eyes and I saw his confidence and strength increase each week.  By the third month, he had lost an additional eight pounds (that’s 30 pounds if you’ve lost count)!  Also, his blood pressure had come down from 144/90 to 134/79. 

Over the next couple of months, I continued to monitor his food & exercise diary, workout with him each week, and send him weekly goals.  I would get texts from him occasionally on how great he felt and the progress he was making.  A few that were memorable: “I plan to adopt this new lifestyle.  I am feeling so much better physically and emotionally.  Not going to get in that rut again.  I had the peanut butter and banana on waffles this morning and it was great.  Thanks for the advice and encouragement.  You are awesome!” and “Dyan, you have no idea how all of this has helped me.  I am feeling great.  No longer stressed or sluggish.  Sleeping better, more energy, etc.  I know as I continue down this path more good things will follow!  I am a fan!  Worked out twice today!”  We even made it through the holidays – he was able to enjoy the festivities, food, and family and still lose weight.  


After working together for five months, he has grown to fully trust me and I have gained utmost respect for him.  He put in the work, did what I recommended, and his success was a result of the choices he made.  As of our meeting yesterday, his total weight loss is 43 pounds (that’s 19% of his starting weight), he dropped eight inches from his waist, two inches from each thigh, and improved his heart rate and blood pressure by over 15%.  His doctor has taken him off his blood pressure meds completely!  Shawn is a new man with newfound confidence and stamina in all aspects of his life.  He has not only added to the quality of his life, he has added quantity to his life!  Congrats to Shawn!  I am so proud of him and all my successful clients! 

Now, it’s YOUR turn to choose success.  All you have to do is take the first step.  Call or email me and I will help you achieve your goals and be your own success!  You will look great and feel amazing – I promise! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Turn Teen Angst into Self-Pride

Me in 10th grade
Growing up, being a teenager, figuring out the world as you mature is hard enough.  But, when you add in pressure to be thin, beautiful, smart, athletic, and part of the “cool crowd”, adolescence can be brutal.  As I have discussed before, I was overweight as a teen.  Even by third or fourth grade, I knew that I was a little “chunkier” than some of the girls in my grade.  While I was not obese, I always carried a few extra pounds.  I was very athletic and preferred being on a field or in a gym over watching after-school specials on TV.  I was fortunate to have grown up in the 80’s when home computers were unheard of, video games were just emerging with Mario Brothers, and doing research involved an entire shelf of hardback encyclopedias from Britannica or World Book.  However, during this time, I was being raised by divorced parents – my mother’s schedule was full of multiple jobs, activities, and commitments.  So, a sit-down healthful meal was a rare occasion at our house.  Most of my meals were in the car or in a restaurant between activities. 

I did have some very memorable sit-down meals as a child.  Both of my grandmothers were wonderful cooks and like to show love through food.  When I stayed with my dad, we typically spent a lot of time with Granny.  My Granny cooked three hot meals a day and we sat at the table for each of them.  Now, keep in mind, Granny was a southern cook whose staple vegetables were “spuds” and “butter beans” and who repurposed empty Country Crock tubs into storage containers for bacon grease.  While these meals weren’t the healthiest, they were comfort.

My issues with weight came to haunt me in my teenage years.  I can remember dreading the free sports physicals each summer – we walked around with all our friends getting everything checked, including our weight.  I was so embarrassed to think that one of my skinny friends (or a cute football star) might get a glance of my weight on my sheet of paper.  I can also remember standing at my locker one day at school and hearing a boy call me “lard butt”.  It was cruel, and it made me even more self-conscious of my weight.  

Granny and me at my college graduation
The lifestyle we led during my adolescence is proof that a regular routine of poor eating habits, even with lots of activity can still lead to weight problems.  But it is even worse these days as our teens are overloaded with tech gadgets.  They can talk to their neighbor online or via text without even getting off the couch.  The world is literally at their fingertips – but this is leading to inactivity and an epidemic of obesity among our young people.  We can help our kids find healthier avenues.  Obesity, and all the medial and emotional problems associated with it, is 100% preventable.  I encourage families to sit down together and have a healthful meal.  For me, the most memorable part of my meals as a kid was sitting down together – the comfort was served in the time we shared.  All you have to do is swap the greasy, high-calorie fare for healthful choices – now you have comfort food that is also protect food.  After all, isn’t that what we want for our kids – to comfort them and protect them for the future?    

I have taken the steps to protect myself for the future.  However, even to this day, I still don’t see myself as a thin person.  I am still that chunky kid who will battle emotional issues that come with being overweight.  I have been able to overcome my fears and insecurities.  I don’t consider myself thin, but when I look in the mirror, I know that I am strong, healthy, and empowered.  I have worked hard and that gives me a sense of pride for myself.  I now want to give that sense of pride to a deserving teen.  I am currently running a Camp Champ Teen contest (see rules at One young person will receive free coaching from me on nutrition and exercise.  I am also collaborating with local businesses who are donating fashion and beauty/grooming to the selected teen once they have lost weight.  Please spread the word to teens you know or any friends who have teenage children – even if they aren’t overweight, statistics show they have friends who are. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Be My Healthy Valentine

Improving health can improve romance
Valentine’s Day is Monday.  Are you ready for some good lovin’?  Turns out that a few healthy alternatives to the standard roses and chocolate may improve your love connection and your love making!  Even I, a confessed cynic when it comes to love, enjoy knowing that I could have a stronger relationship – mentally and physically – should my Prince Charming come calling.  So, let me offer you a few ways that could not only improve your health, it could improve your relationship with your significant other. 

Numerous studies show that exercise can improve sexual function & satisfaction for both men & women.  The basic principle is that exercise helps the body pump and circulate blood more efficiently.  So, every single body part is more, well, alive.  According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), men and women who exercise regularly have increased levels of desire, enhanced confidence, enhanced ability to achieve orgasm, and greater sexual satisfaction.  Need proof that working up a sweat is like natural and free Viagra?  A Harvard study has shown that as little as 30 minutes of walking a day can alleviate a man’s erectile dysfunction (ED).  Researchers have found that there is a correlation between a man’s waist size and his odds of having ED.  The larger the man's waist size, the greater his chance of having ED because of a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.  And ladies, we aren’t left out of this!  According to a 2004 study in Run for Life, 40% of women who ran for exercise reported greater arousal, 31% had sex more often, and 25% found orgasm easier to achieve. 

Want even more of a health boost?  Workout together.  Sweating together is actually sexy.  Yep, scientists say that male sweat contains a compound capable of lightening a woman’s mood and heightening her sexual arousal.  When humans sweat they give off pheromones – scents that affect the body of the opposite sex.  Further, couples who work out together cite stronger bond and better health.  Plus you are more likely to stick to your exercise regime.  Studies have shown that couples who exercise together increase their chances of sticking to their program by a whopping 90%!  

Whether you workout together or individually, the quality and quantity of your action between the sheets will improve.  And, there’s a bonus – you get an extra workout because you could burn about 100 calories in 30 minutes of getting busy!

In addition to exercise, eating and preparing healthy food can improve your relationship with your significant other.  Antioxidants found in produce can fight off free-radicals and help improve blood flow to all our organs.  The darker varieties of produce contain the most antioxidants and phytochemicals which can lead to improved sexual function.  Opt for blueberries, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, cranberries – eat the rainbow!  Also, bananas contain the enzyme bromelain, which can reverse impotence in men.  Heart-healthy fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, cod) and nuts (almonds, walnuts) contain arginine, which can improve blood flow and hormone production.  In addition, fish and nuts are a prime source of essential fatty acids, which are vital as they provide the raw material for healthy production of hormones.  And finally, crack a few to get your vitamins B6 and B5, which help balance hormone levels and fight stress, two things that are crucial to a healthy libido. 

Heat up romance in the kitchen
Just like with exercise, you can chow on these healthy foods individually or together.  However, I suggest making and eating a healthy meal or snack together.  The experience will bring you closer together and you can talk and flirt while in the kitchen together.  According to a poll conducted by Kenmore appliances, of 1,500 couples asked, 82% who cook together described their relationships as “excellent.”  Only 25% of those who do not cook together could say the same.  So, turn on the stove and you are sure to heat up the romance. 

While I am not a doctor or a licensed sex therapist, I would have to think that I have provided you with some incentive to work up a sweat and cook up a healthy meal.  I personally feel confident and empowered after a great workout, and feel secure about my body when I fuel it with healthful food.  And the occasions when I find a man most irresistible: working up a sweat pumping iron, keeping up with me during a run, cooking a great meal with me, and cleaning up the kitchen while I finish my wine.  I would think most women would have similar thoughts.  So, have a healthy and happy Valentine’s Day and go get yourself some good lovin’!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quit the Guilt and Get Over It!

My mom worked
Is it just me or is guilt at an all-time high right now?  We feel guilty for splurging on all those sweet treats during the holidays, loading up on comfort foods during the winter, and spending more time lounging in warmth rather than getting out to exercise in the cold.  To make matters even worse, a study has come out over the weekend that children with working mothers are linked to being overweight or obese.  According to the government-funded study, for every five months a mom worked, her child had an average of nearly one extra pound.  This study is frustrating because it shows a correlation, but it does not mention anything about cause and effect.  A working mother is not directly to blame for an obese child – it is likely the lifestyle due to a hectic work and home schedule – fast food over freshly prepared meals, later bedtimes (erratic sleep is a risk factor for obesity), lack of exercise as a family due to other commitments.  While this study didn’t offer any solutions, it does offer awareness.  It can open our eyes to the potential for change and to get healthy now.

So you’re a working mother who stops for fast food occasionally, so you gained a few pounds over the winter, so you haven’t heard yourself breathe heavily since you put up your Christmas tree?  The more guilt and stress that mounts, the less likely we are to get back into shape.  That’s right – when we are under stress, our bodies react in a “fight or flight” response.  This response alters our minds and bodies in a way that can actually pack on the pounds.   Stress causes our bodies to release cortisol – a hormone that increases blood sugar.  Too much cortisol can actually lower metabolism making it even harder to lose weight.  Plus, high levels of stress have been linked to added abdominal fat (as I posted in my previous entry, the most dangerous fat cells are the ones around our middle because they are the ones linked to higher triglycerides and increased risk for heart disease).  So, packing on the guilt may actually lead to packing on the pounds.  My advice is to simply accept what has been done and move on from here.  
I completely understand that no one is immune to stress and guilt in today’s non-stop world.  However, everyone is capable of dealing with the stress and minimizing the guilt.  My advice? 
  • Go for a walk with the entire family before or after dinner – leave the cell phones at home.  Reconnecting can help you unwind.
  • Exercise in the morning before everyone else gets up.  A 20-minute sweat session can be enough to perk up your mood for a whopping 12 hours.  It may also be as effective as medication for treating depression in some people.  And exercise can lead to changes in the brain that strengthen your resolve against stress.
  • Don’t have time to get in a morning workout, play a video sports or dance game with the entire family before bed.  Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.
  • Pick one day a week as your “shop & prep” day.  Go to the grocery and take the time as soon as you get home to store fresh, healthful options on the shelves closest to eye level.
  • Allow each child to pick something from the produce section and then plan a meal around it.  Keep a calendar of meals posted in the kitchen so everyone can look forward to the night their ingredient is featured.  
  • Prepare make-ahead meals on your day off to have for the rest of the week.  It’s faster and cheaper that a drive-thru, and much more healthful.  (Note: I offer prepared meals for those who simply don’t have the time or patience to make it yourself.  See
  • Clear the cupboards of junk food, or at least keep them out of eyesight.  No need to test your willpower and you avoid the guilt that follows.
Please keep in mind that I am not here to judge anyone.  I am the product of a working mother who held multiple jobs at once and we were always on the go.  I have fought my own weight for many years.  So, I encourage you today to go and free yourself of the guilt.  You can make smart decisions and do the best you can.  I am proud of you just for trying! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Your Heart is on the Line

Grandaddy and me
Most everyone knows by this time that February is American Heart Month.  It has been shown on the news and talk shows.  In fact, today is National Wear Red Day to encourage awareness of heart disease and the factors that contribute to it.  It is a worthy campaign because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  However, there is good news.  Most everyone can reduce their chance of developing, or even prevent, coronary heart disease.  My grandfather died of a heart attack when I was very young.  Unfortunately I never got a chance to really know him and missed out on many life experiences with him.  So, heart disease hits close to home for me.    

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use (including secondhand smoke) are at increased risk for heart disease.  Most all of these risks can be reduced or eradicated with healthy lifestyle changes.  The CDC states that a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to fight heart disease.  In addition, daily physical activity is an important step to preventing heart disease.  The American Heart Association promotes following the ABC’s for heart disease prevention - Avoid tobacco, Become more active, and Choose good nutrition.  These philosophies are how I live my life and how I encourage my clients to live.  I call it a “whole-istic” approach to healthy living.  Here are my tips that you and your loved ones can incorporate to reduce or eliminate your risk of heart disease:
  • Move your body in some way.  Exercising has a ripple effect on your entire body – your muscles become more efficient at using blood, your heart gets stronger, and your blood vessels become more limber so blood flows more easily.  You don’t need fancy equipment – just tennis shoes (and a good bra for women) will get you on your way.  The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health show that just 30 minutes of walking three or more times a week can lower your blood pressure by five points.  You don’t have to run a marathon – you can walk, dance, swim, cycle – whatever you like the most is what will work the best because it is what you’ll do most often. 
  • Bring the Mediterranean to your kitchen.  The majority of fare in the Mediterranean consists of fish and produce.  In studies, omega-3’s from oily fish (salmon, tuna, and sardines) lower heart disease risk by up to 64%.  In addition, you can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 30% when you eat three or more servings of fruits & vegetables each day. 
  • Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.  This nasty little ingredient is also known as trans fat – something you want to avoid consuming.  Trans fats are solids, making them less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing process helps foods have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel.  While the grease isn’t left on your fingers, it goes straight to your arteries.  So, watch out for commercially baked goods such as crackers, cookies and cakes, and fried foods such as doughnuts and french fries.  These are all likely to contain trans fats.
  • Avoid a high sugar to fiber ratio.  This increases your risk for heart disease.  Stay away from foods with fewer than three grams of fiber and more than ten grams of sugar (look at the label) per serving.  Stick with whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, and oatmeal.
  • Incorporate both healthy eating and moderate exercise into your life.  Healthful food and exercise together are shown to reduce the size of abdominal fat cells (the most dangerous fat cells are the ones around your middle because they are the ones linked to higher triglycerides and increased risk for heart disease).  Just doing on or the other will not reduce those abdominal fat cells. 
Granmommie and me
I hope you are able to use my tips to help you and your loved ones get heart healthy.  Although February is American Heart month, our health and our hearts should be taken of year-round.  I have lost all four of my grandparents and I can’t help but wonder what we could have shared together had they taken better care of their hearts and health.  Your heart is on the line and it is your responsibility to protect it.  It’s not just for yourself, but for the ones who love you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It isn’t rocket science

Dyan, the engineer
In the early days of my career in engineering, I was talking with my mentor and boss at the time about one of the projects I was working on.  As he was giving me advice and direction on how to proceed, he stated, “It isn’t rocket science.”  I remember thinking at the time that he was right, it wasn’t all that complicated.  But, it sure seemed like the road that led up to that point wasn’t easy.  I have come to realize that the same concept applies to weight loss and getting healthy.  It’s not rocket science – its simple math – in order to lose weight, one must burn more fat and calories than one consumes.  But, apparently neither engineering nor weight loss are easy accomplishments.  If they were, everyone would don pocket protectors while looking like Halle Berry or Matthew McConaughey.  In all seriousness, Americans are struggling with their weight.  A 2010 survey reveals that over 63% of Americans are overweight or obese.  That means that nearly two out of every three of us are carrying around extra unhealthy weight.  Another interesting fact – the average American man’s waist size is 40 inches.  Let’s put that in perspective.  Remember the trapped Chilean miners last year?  The maximum waist size that could fit into the escape pod used to rescue them was 35 inches.  Could you have been rescued? 

While taking the first step to losing weight and getting healthy may not be easy, it is definitely worth the effort.  First, you have to make up your mind and your heart to get healthy.  No one can make this commitment for you – you have to commit to yourself and for yourself.  Most likely, you didn’t gain all the weight in a few weeks – it usually creeps on over months, years, or even decades.  So, you can’t expect to lose the weight immediately.  While many people are successful on quick-fix diets (Atkins, Slimfast, cabbage soup diet, diet pills, cleanses, etc), they are most likely to regain the weight because quick-fixes do not address the behavioral problems that put the weight on in the first place.  It is only by learning how to exercise effectively, eat better, and rest properly that we can live a healthy lifestyle and keep the weight off. 

Dyan, the health coach
I recommend setting a few general long-term goals like “I want to have more energy” or “I want to feel better about myself” or “I want to be able to be able to run around the yard with my kids”.  If you set unrealistic goals in the beginning like “I won’t eat anymore desserts” or “I will join a gym and workout every day”, chances are you will set yourself up for failure.  Instead, I recommend setting specific short-term goals like “I will eat a healthy breakfast each day this week” or “I will swap fruit for dessert twice this week” or “I will take a 30-minute walk three days this week”.  Once you accomplish the short-term goals, you have confidence to accomplish your next set of goals.  Taking small steps to getting healthy is the sure-fire way to stay healthy.  I absolutely hate the words cheat, fail, and restrict.  I also do not allow the word can’t.  When living a healthy lifestyle, there is no room for these words.  No matter what, you can always move forward and make better choices.  There is no reason to beat yourself up because you CAN do this. 

I work with my clients individually to set an exercise plan and a nutrition guide based on their personality, ability, lifestyle, age, and preferences.  Everyone progresses differently.  Eating five small meals a day may be effective for some, while others are better off with three.  Some may not enjoy running, or may not even be physically able, but everyone is capable of doing something.  Whatever your place in life, there is a way for you to lose weight, get healthy, and feel better.  Take that first step.  Don’t get discouraged.  You CAN do this.  And remember, it isn’t rocket science.