Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Food Addiction...Is it Real?

Of course it is!  Why do you think we have so many overweight Americans?  A lot of overweight Americans say they like the way they are but then why do they try and fail at so many diets?  It's not because of the diets themselves but it's because they have an addiction.  Food addiction is probably the HARDEST addiction to get over...Why?  Because we still have to eat in order to live.  Alcoholics can go without alcohol and they can avoid being around alcohol.  Drug addicts don't need to be around drugs or have to use drugs in order to survive.  But Food Addicts still need to eat.  It's everywhere you go; it's on TV almost 24/7.  Yet people are expected to give up their food addiction on there own and are criticized when they can't.  Alcoholics and drug addicts have rehab centers, counselors and the support of people around them.  Drug addicts can find people to be around that aren't going to shoot up and alcoholics can find people that won't drink around them but how do you find people that won't eat around you.  How many places of employment have vending machines or have doughnuts brought to every meeting?  How many holiday parties do you go to that aren't full of goodies?  Can you go to the movies without seeing tons of advertisement for candy and popcorn before the movie starts?  Yet we constantly criticize people when we see them shoving their mouths with unhealthy foods.  If you know someone who is trying to lose weight do you stop eating around them or do you brag about how you can eat and they can't?  We are more inclined to go out of our way not to drink around a recovering alcoholic than we are to not eat around someone trying to lose weight.  Why is that?  It might be that you are addicted to food too and not realize it.  You don't have to be overweight to be an addict.

Yes, I am a food addict.  I am able to control it most of the time now but I still struggle with it.  It never becomes easy.  You don't wake up one day and say "Wow, I never want to eat cake ever again" and then never do it.  It just doesn't work that way.  You can go years eating healthy and taking good care of yourself and then one day you decide to take a bite of your friend's birthday cake and BAM it all comes back to you, those cravings that is.  I jokingly tell people that when I go to the grocery store I "visit" the bakery and say Hi to my old friends but I'm not joking.  I really do visit and look at all the baked goods.  I look to see if calories are listed hoping to find something that is less than 200 calories and has only one serving (because I can't get multiple servings b/c I know I will eat them all).  Luckily I don't find any except for the grab your own doughnuts section but I've seen too many shows about people using their hands to pick through them and put them back.  At least my germ phobia helps me out there.  My weakness or addiction is sweets: cookies, cake, brownies...  When I get my "cravings" I start to think about what I can lose if I give in.  I have health problems as it is and unhealthy food would only make it worse.  I preach to my kids about eating healthy and try to be an example so if I give in I could influence them in a negative way.  When I was 18 I "tried" to be an anorexic but being addicted to food made it to difficult so then I thought about binging and purging.  Fortunately I was too vain when it came to my teeth so after seeing pictures of bulimics with rotten teeth I couldn't go through with that.  Then I became an exercise addict.  I worked out for 4-6 hours per day so I could eat a lot.  I would still put on weight even with all the exercise and that started my cycles of weight gain, diet, weight loss and then all over again. 

Fortunately, I had my kids in my 20's and I knew when I became pregnant with my first child that if I didn't learn to deal with my addiction at that moment then I might teach my children to become food addicts as well and I didn't want to do that.  At first they were my one and only reason to battle my addiction.  I want to clarify that I am not saying parents who can't overcome it are bad parents because they are not.  Our society teaches us to be addicts; it is everywhere you turn around.  It just happened to be my current motivation at that particular time.  But with addicts that initial motivation fades and you need to re-evaluate and find another motivation.  It can be a constantly changing thing.  So when you feel you are becoming weak go look for a new motivation.  You have to learn to be creative.  Sometimes if I start to put on a few pounds I take out a favorite form fitting outfit and put it on every morning until I can feel comfortable in it again; or it may be a bathing suit.  I may take a very unflattering picture of myself and put it on my mirror so I can see it every time I fix my hair in the morning and when I wash my face before I go to bed.  It could also be looking at other peoples success stories to help give me that extra motivation.  Each time may be different but you have to find that ultimate motivation. 

I was watching Dr. Oz today and that was what motivated me to write about this.  There was a single mom on the show who was struggling with food addiction.  She tried to hide it from her children but she couldn't do it so she would share her addiction with her kids.  She felt so bad at times she wanted to take her own life and as much as she wanted to stop she couldn't.  Dr. Oz acknowledged that it was indeed a serious addiction and helped put her into a rehab facility while a good friend watched her kids.  A rehab center!  Just like drug addicts and alcoholics.  Praise the Lord, finally people are stating just what this horrible disease is and some people need serious intervention.  I also watched Biggest Loser and this daughter talk about seeing her dad who lost over a hundred pounds.  She said she was so excited because she's only seen a fat dad her whole entire life and now she has a new dad.  She said she can't wait to start her journey to weight loss.  Her dad loved her so much, do you think he intentionally let his daughter get overweight?  No!  But he's an addict and couldn't stop.  Lets stop criticizing people who are overweight and when you see them out eating a double quarter pounder with cheese and a super sized fry and coke don't judge.  Heck say a little silent prayer for them.  Lets start educating people about this serious addiction and if you know someone who keeps trying to stop eating unhealthy foods and fail over and over again then be empathetic, get them to seek help, more help than a friend, personal trainer or a weight watchers representative has to offer.  As with many addictions it's not about the actual substance, it's about emotions and compensating for those emotions.  You do it because it makes you feel good, you get a rush and you want that feeling over and over again until one day you turn around and you realize you don't feel so good anymore, in fact you feel awful but it's too late, your hooked and you can't seem to do anything about it. 

I'm not trying to be a downer.  I just want to educate the world about this secret addiction no one wants to talk about.  I want people to be empathetic to addicts and I want you to try to help them.  If you are an addict then I want you to know there is hope.  Find your motivation, find a good friend to support you and if all else fails find a good counselor or get into rehab.  It may seem impossible because you may not be able to afford it or leave your kids but then what would happen if you die?  There is always a way so don't make anymore excuses.  Then once you have helped yourself then go out and help others.  When I help people lose weight it's not just about the knowledge I have learned in college that I use to help them, it's about knowing what they are going through because I've been there.  Not judging them but encouraging them, listening to them and supporting them when they have setbacks.  I got into this field because I know how hard it is and I wish I would have had someone to support me.  I felt too ashamed to talk about it to anyone.  I don't want anyone to have to go through that.  So I thank you for taking the time to read this.  I hope you can get something out of it and help educate others.  We can do it together! :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obstacles: Living with an autoimmune disease and trying to maintain fitness

I recently found out the meaning behind this song and I felt a strong urge to share my story hoping to help others who live like this or live with someone like this. Rob Thomas wrote this song about his wife who suffers from an autoimmune disease.  Most people who suffer from an autoimmune disease usually suffer in silence.  It is hard for people to understand these diseases because you usually don't look sick and the only way you may find out that they are suffering is if they tell you.  But then because you don't look sick you are written off as a complainer, especially if you are sick for a long time.  I was diagnosed with Lupus about 12 years ago.  When I have a flare up I will have really bad joint pain, extreme fatigue and depending on the flare up I may suffer from pleurisy, kidney infections, muscle pain and more... When I'm not having a flare up I still suffer from fatigue, mild joint pain and muscle pain. 

The past 3 years I have been sick with multiple autoimmune diseases.  When one gets better another one manifests.  Lupus, polymyositis and crohn's disease are the ones diagnosed but the doctors feel there are others that they can't identify.  After I had a mild Lupus flare up a few years ago, mainly dealing with joint pain, pleurisy and severe fatigue, I then began to suffer from severe muscle pain.  I would work out (because exercise is actually good for people with Lupus b/c it helps with the joint pain if you can get through the workout) and then have severe pain for almost a week.  Every muscle hurt and became weak to where I could barely hold up a blow dryer to dry my hair.  The pain would subside a little and I would try to work out again only to feel this extreme pain and weakness.  After about 3-4 episodes of this my doctor did some more blood tests only to find my cpk levels (muscle enzymes) were over 22,000 which normal values are below 300.  You would normally find this level in people who were in a car accident and had severe muscle damage.  This was polymyositis and I wasn't able to work out for over 6 months.  Of course I'm so stubborn I kept trying about once a week only to suffer more pain.  After the prednisone finally put this one at bay I started having severe digestive system problems in which they finally decided to remove most of my large intestines.  After this surgery (which was the worst surgery I've ever had including the horrible recovery) I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.  I finally started getting better overall after another round of prednisone.  My doctor prematurely took me off my meds because he said everything looked ok even though I said I still didn't feel right.  By this time I'm seeing 5 different doctors because one doctor won't treat everything, if I suffer joint pain I see the rheumatologist, nerve pain/weakness-neurologist, abdominal pain-gastroenterologist, breathing problems-pulmonologist, chest pain/high heart rate-cardiologist...and so on. 

After going off my medications I was just getting back into my routine of running 5 miles and strength training then BAM:  all of sudden I can't breathe while running.  I had just started running hills since my girls were in cross country so I thought, wow these hills are brutal I could barely run a few miles.  Each day I ran less and less having to stop because I couldn't catch my breath.  Uuugggghhh!  Not again!  I just want to get better, c'mon!  After a few months of being treated for asthma that I'm sure I don't have I am still not any better.  I keep trying every week to run and I push myself until I feel like I'm going to pass out b/c I think ok this time I can do it.  The doctors finally decide to run some blood work only to find I'm really iron deficient...what?? I'm on prescription strength iron supplements, I eat iron rich foods and because of the birth control I'm on, I don't have a cycle at all.  The reasons one might be iron deficient is either malnutrition or bleeding.  After another test it is discovered I am indeed bleeding internally somewhere along my digestive tract.  So next week I undergo a few tests, one to see if I really have asthma or some other lung problem and the others are an upper and lower endoscopy to try to find the bleeding.  If they can't find anything with the upper and lower endoscopy then I get to swallow a camera pill.  Ok, so that's kind of cool.

In the meantime I keep training clients yet when I go to work out I feel like a really old lady barely able to push myself to run 1 1/2 miles alternating running/walking and only able to lift light weights less than 50% percent of what I'm used to.  I love training clients and when I am working with a client I actually feel pretty good, knowing I'm helping them achieve their goals and seeing them improve and get healthier is just such a good feeling.  My family has adjusted to my illnesses for the most part.  It is hard for family that lives far away why I haven't been able to go see them.  My husband has struggled off and on because I don't look sick and I might feel good a few hours per day then  I start to feel bad again.  I have to really plan my day in advance because I have to conserve my energy.  My husband will come home and want to go out to eat or see a movie but I can't because I used my energy already.  He struggled with having to schedule a date especially since he is a spur of the moment person.  He tries and he goes to my doctor's appointments to try to understand this better.  I'm in a lot of pain and it is hard for him because he can't do anything to help me.  Being married to someone who has been sick for 3 years can be pretty difficult.  Especially when prednisone can make you very irritable and so can being iron deficient and pain.  He is really learning to ignore my "exorcist moments", which can be pretty bad.  I'm thankful he can get past that.   

My kids are awesome.  I put an oversized chair in my room so they come in my room to watch TV with me on the weekends.  I'm usually in bed for most of the weekends to rest up for the week.  Having 3 teenagers climb in bed with you or sit in the chair next to me and watch movies is really awesome.  When my husband is home at night there are 3-4 of us in my bed and 1-2 in the chair watching movies.  My bedroom has become the family room and I really feel blessed for that.  So I'm hoping next week will bring some answers and then treatment to make me normal again.  I can't wait! :) If you know someone who lives like this don't treat them like an alien b/c you don't know what to do, just find ways to encourage them, make them laugh or do something fun with them that they can handle.  They want to feel normal but also understood. 

God Bless!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What you should know about your trainer and what your trainer should know about you…

I’ve gotten a lot of emails recently regarding the article linked to my website regarding how to pick a personal trainer. The reason I posted this article is because I wanted my potential clients to know what a qualified personal trainer is. First, there is the certification. Is your trainer certified? Who are they certified with? Is it up to date? Here is a link with personal training certification programs that are accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies:

This is a third party certification agency that examines the organizations that certify personal trainers. You should ask your trainer what agency they are certified through and then verify it.

Once you’ve established that they are indeed certified then you should ask if they have taken continuing education credits because new research comes out regularly. Most certification agencies require their trainers to take a certain amount of cec’s in order to continue their current certification. Also ask if your trainer has taken any college education classes in the field of exercise science, health and fitness or something in a related area. It is not required by trainers and it doesn’t necessarily mean the ones with the college education are better than the ones without. It really depends on what the trainer has educated themselves with and are they applying that to the clients. Your trainer should create a customized training program and this should change regularly as you become competent on what you have learned. A trainer should never have their clients in severe pain the day after a session. If you do have this severe pain then you should talk to your trainer about cutting back on the weight or amount of exercise. If your trainer says that you are fine and continues to have you wake up in severe pain each time then it’s time to find a new trainer. If you experience any pain during a workout you should tell your trainer and try a different exericise and if the pain persists then maybe you should make a trip to the doctor to make sure you are ok to keep training.

Something clients should focus on during a consultation is whether or not you think you will get along with this trainer. This is very important because it is your money and you shouldn’t dread your workouts because you don’t like your trainer. If you don’t notice this until after you start training with them then talk to your trainer and let them know if you don’t agree with something like the way they talk to you or if they are yelling at you. Again, it’s your money and you should feel confident with your trainer.

Now trainers, same thing goes…ask your client what their goals are and then ask them if they are willing to do what it takes to get there. You will most likely only spend 1-3 hours with them per week so the rest of the week they need to be disciplined as well. You don’t want to train someone who won’t succeed. You may need the money but it could hurt your clientelle if you are training people who are not getting results. Other potential clients aren’t going to know it was the client who continued to eat too many calories and not work out when you are not there. Also, trainers don’t be offended if your client interviews you and asks a lot of questions about you. That usually means this client is serious about their work out and they will succeed with your training. Also, you should see if you think you will get along with your client. If the client is clashing with your personality then it might be best to not pursue this because if they decided later down the line that they don’t like you then they can give you a bad reputation. This is a two way relationship and both parties need to be satisfied. But don’t just take my word for it, do your own research. Both the client and trainer needs to take care of their health/reputation.

So that’s what I wanted to say on this topic. Here is the link to the MSN article I found on chosing your trainer. Good Luck! :)

Kristina Crossway

KrisCross Training

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weight Loss Could Literally Save Your Life!

CNN Reports Cancer is linked to Obesity

Ok, I just had to add this article. New research has shown a link between obesity and cancer. Specifically, the report says that 49 percent of endometrial cancers are caused by excess body fat. That number is followed by 35 percent of esophageal cancer cases; 28 percent of pancreatic cancer cases; 24 percent of kidney cancer cases; 21 percent of gallbladder cancer cases; 17 percent of breast cancer cases; and 9 percent of colorectal cancer cases. Wow, I had no idea!

For some reason diabetes and heart disease aren't enough to scare most people into losing weight but maybe cancer can. I'd hate to say that I'm excited about this new research report, because I'm not exactly, but I am excited about the potential of people living healthier lives because of this report. Cancer seems to scare people more so than other weight related diseases. I guess it's because when you hear the word cancer people immediately think: chemotherapy, losing hair, being violently ill, all before getting better if that is even a possibility. I guess when people think of diabetes they think of insulin shots that don't seem so bad and for some reason don't think of the possibility of losing your feet. When it comes to heart disease I guess people think of having a pace maker or taking medications and not needing a heart transplant. Also if you did need a heart transplant the chances aren't very good for an obese person getting a heart. But the big "C" really scares people. If that is what it takes for people to be scared into losing weight well then please get scared. Many obese people don't even realize they are obese, they just think they are overweight and that they can lose it eventually.

A friend of mine was looking at some pictures of herself her mom had taken at a gathering earlier in the week and while we were looking at them she noticed one of her laying down on the couch after the gathering and there was a big ring of fat surrounding her face almost looking as if her face was being swallowed up. She asked me if she really looked that big, the dreaded question you don't want to answer...So I asked her if I looked bigger in the picture than what I really am and she sadly said no. She knew she had gained some wait but really didn't think it was that much or that she was obese until she saw that one picture. That is all it took and the next day she asked me to help her with an exercise program. So far she has lost an average of 2-3 pounds per week.

There are people that really and truly try to lose weight over and over again and fail. But then one day, something finally clicks with them, whether it is a picture, an article they are reading or a conversation with an old friend and they are hit with a few eye opening realizations. While they thought they were happy with the way they were, they really weren't. Some people realize this when they try playing a sport they hadn't played in awhile and realize they can't do it now. Some realize it when they finally get to baby-sit their grandchild they've waited for so long and they just can't keep up. Some realize it when they see a picture of themselves in a very unflattering way and then there are others who will realize it when they are told they are at risk of dying. Finding that realization can be such a memorable moment and those people who go on to lose the weight will always remember that moment.

When will you have your moment? I hope your moment can be after reading this article because I would hate for your health to be in jeopardy in the near future. Taking the first step can be hard but so worth it. It may take more than joining a gym and cutting back on some calories. For many people it is an emotional attachment, I know for me it was (and still is; I just learn to resist it most of the time). It may take a commitment of hiring a personal trainer to help hold you accountable and/or joining a support group to hear that other people struggle too and to share tips with others and get advice from a professional. Many people don't realize that their overeating or unwillingness to exercise is due to some emotional connection either from when they were a child, teenager or college.

In my family we were taught to eat when we have something to celebrate. When anybody was sad we would bake cookies, brownies or cake. I think we had food with almost any emotion we had. Even though I managed to learn to eat healthy and attempted to teach my kids to eat healthy I didn't realize that I was actually passing this eating with emotions on to my kids. Of course when anyone in the family did something good we went out to eat. But then if anyone had a rough day or was sad b/c a fish died or they were in a fight with a friend, there I was baking cookies to make them feel better. It dawned on me last year when my 14 year old daughter was sad b/c this boy she liked actually liked someone else and she came to talk to me and before I could say anything she said "Can we make some cookies?” There was my moment...the moment I realized I was teaching my kids the same thing my parents taught me. After all these years of school, training classes, working in the medical field, helping any and all of my friends to lose weight, exercise and eat right, I was teaching my own kids to have an unhealthy relationship with food. How do you undo that? Especially when I still want to eat brownies when I don't feel good.

Well, I’m working on it, lol...but I've thought of some ways to help brake the habits without them knowing and honestly without them knowing they have the habits to begin with. From now on when someone is feeling sad then we will go out and do something fun like bowling, skating, hiking or something active the kids like. When they do something good then we celebrate by going to Six Flags or Stone Mountain. I guess I'll have to keep cake for their birthdays and we can go out to eat just for fun without a feeling associated with it. I teach them how to make healthy options out at restaurants but we just don't want to associate feelings with along with it.

So to sum all of that up...GO see your doctor about all the risks that are associated with being overweight, GO look at some recent pictures (or if you were like me when I was overweight I didn't have pictures taken of me, so go get some taken) and then take a long hard look at yourself. Do you really think you are happy? Do you feel happy about the way you look? Then GO do something about it. Save your life! I think you're important enough to save. :) Good Luck!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Are you stressed????? Here are some tips to help get a little mellow...:)

 Are you under a lot of stress?  Is your boss driving you crazy?  Your spouse nagging?  Stress can cause a great deal amount of symptoms such as weight gain, hives, asthma, illnesses, ulcers, heart problems, and can eventually lead to death.  That's just scary.  Who can live without stress these days?  Whether it is someone cutting you off on the road,  co-workers talking behind your back, list of bills, kids that won't even let you go to the bathroom by yourself, dogs chewing up everyones underwear, etc.... I don't know of anyone that doesn't live with any stress.

Depending on what is bothering you, the first thing you should do is to try talking about it to your spouse, best friend, or a trusted family member.  Sometimes just talking about it to a loved one can have an immediate response of relief and you will feel much better about it.  Learning how to do yoga or meditation is another way to help try to get rid of your stress as well.

My favorite way to relieve stress is through exercise.  Exercise helps keep me in shape and it helps me get through stressfull situations I've had.  For me, running is my stress reliever.  I run without an ipod because I like to think about everything that stressed me out that day and I actually re-live it in my head although I may have edited my parts by yelling back in my thoughts or saying what I wish I had said.  No I don't go around running and yelling foul words looking like a crazy person, I just run and play it all in my head.  By the time I am done I feel so much better and it is all forgotten.  It is kind of a running joke, ha, ha, that when anyone sees me running around my neighborhood, they say "Oh, I guess her husband pissed her off again."  LOL

Exercise will help to reduce tension.  I think most of us hide stress in our necks so really good neck stretching exercises can help with that.  Exercise can also help relax you so you can get better rest.  Exercise can give your better self esteem and people that exercise regularly, will eventually start eating healthier as well. 

The type of exercise that you do for stress will vary from one person to another.  Finding something you enjoy is a good first step.  Whether it is running, elliptical, roller skating, yoga, dancing around in your living room, or playing hopscotch with your kids.  Outdoors is usually the best place to exercise when wanting to relieve stress and try to stay away from crowds or work people since they may trigger the stress. If you are stressed at work then try taking a long walk while on lunch and take your lunch with you to eat while walking.  Healthy lunch of course:)

Keep trying until you find something you like, you have to like it if you want it to help you.  GOOD LUCK!
                                                                                                                     Kristina Crossway


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November is Diabetes Awarness Month

Exercise is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle but an even more important part of a diabetic’s lifestyle. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore but should be fun and challenging. There are plenty of ways for people to get exercise without signing up at a gym or hiring a personal trainer (but that is a good way to get your exercise). If you don’t like lifting weights or attending aerobics classes then find something you like. Whether it is dancing around in your living room, riding a bike, hiking, ice skating, bowling or swimming there are plenty of ways to add exercise into your life and it could mean saving your life.

Obesity is on the rise, in fact skyrocketing, which means diabetes is on the rise too. The norm for what the average American thinks they should weigh or size that they should wear has increased and because of this many parents don’t recognize there child as overweight. Just thinking your child is thick, big boned or a little chunky and that they will grow out of it or think there is no need for concern can be a fatal mistake for your child later on in life. An overweight child is twice more likely to get diabetes than a child in the normal weight range. While some children are diabetic due to genetics most children who get diabetes later in childhood or early adulthood could have been prevented with proper diet and exercise.

Teaching your child about healthy eating and exercise is such an important tool to use and the earlier you start teaching them the more likely they will become healthy adults. It’s never too late to start teaching them but you must be an example as well. Check out the American Diabetes Association’s website for the top ten benefits to being active.