Patch Takes It Off: Week Three Done
In week three, our hero contends with a plateau and heat-related illness and meets with a nutritionist.
Third week down and I lost nothing. Gained nothing, either, but I lost no weight.
There was a big mitigating factor: work, which left me no free time to do much more than walk (usually late at night, with the spouse) or exercise with heavy cans.
There was also the heat wave. I am a 50-degree person, happiest in a sweater and when there is a tiny nip in the air. The last week was nothing less than a nightmare for me. By Thursday, my body had had it, between 100-degree-temperature-fueled headaches and sheer exhaustion.
When Friday came around, I started having serious breathing issues that forced me off my feet.
Obviously, there was no exercise getting done. On the other hand, I wasn't eating either.
So as sad as I am about the lack of weight loss last week, I am alive and breathing a little better. The heat has subsided to a degree. I choose to be positive and focus on that.
Plus, I did have an eyeopening meeting with a nutritionist last week. Judith Gisser, a certified nutrition specialist and wellness coach, works out of the Mount Tabor section of Parsippany. She offers nutrition and holistic health plans for clients that are geared to each individual's body type and wellness needs.
Gisser's interest in health, homeopathy and nutrition began when she was 21. That was the year her father died at the age of 52 after suffering his second heart attack.
The next year, Gisser was diagnosed with a form of hypoglycemia, a condition that occurs when blood sugar drops to potentially dangerously low levels. The information led her to change her diet.
Years later, her young son began to experience serious and recurring ear infections. Doctors couldn't help Gisser help her son, but through trial and error, she realized that the boy had multiple food sensitivities. In time, Gisser developed an eating plan to help him.
As time passed and her family grew, so did Gisser's interest in health. She attended symposiums in New York and took classes and seminars. She offered nutrition and cooking classes out of her house and gave advice to people she encountered, but Gisser did not make health her full-time career until after turning 50 and losing a job during an economic turndown.
Looking at her options, she decided to go back to school.
"Once I passed organic chemistry, I knew I could do anything," she said.
Eventually Gisser earned a master's degree from the University of Bridgeport along with certifications in nutrition. Before long, she began helping lead people professionally on the road to wellness.
"Weight issues are just one of the areas my work covers," Gisser said, stressing that her interest is total health.
Of course, many say that weight loss should be viewed through a total-health prism, so that idea makes a good deal of sense to me.
Now working out of a chiropractic office, Gisser sees a stream of clients who come to her for health and nutrition advice.
"My clients come out of the ether," she said, laughing. "I have a very good reputation, because nobody practices the way I do. For me, food is the way you learn about yourself and how you get what you want out of life. When you develop a working relationship with food and learn how it affects your body, I find you are better equipped to meet your goals in life."
Gisser's big on teaching people to make informed choices and to learn how to say no to foods when necessary.
"It's important to choose foods that do good things for you and then to enjoy every bite," she said. "If you're going to have a chocolate bar, you want to enjoy it. You don't want to tell yourself how bad you are while you're eating it.
"Almost every food has some benefit; your body will extract what it needs from whatever you're eating," Gisser notes. "Of course, if you want optimum health and performance and you want your mind to be sharp, you have to make good choices. What you're eating now will determine your condition 20 years from now."
Gisser recommends a whole-food, anti-inflammatory diet, one that consists of foods that are unprocessed and close to their natural state and that promote overall wellness and balance. Anti-inflammatory foods, she said, counteract chronic inflammation, which can lead to heart disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, many cancers and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. These healthy whole foods include whole grains, vegetables of all colors, seasonal fruits, wild (not from a farm) fish and seafood, herbs and spices, lean proteins including omega-3 enriched eggs and healthy fats (extra-virgin olive oil, expeller-pressed canola oil, walnuts, avocados, flax and hemp seeds, etc.).
In the course of helping clients, Gisser guides them through keeping food diaries that list every item a person eats or drinks.
"The diaries allow us to see patterns that could be responsible for weight problems and a variety of health issues," she said.
They also become guides that can lead people into making tangible, healthy choices.
"I don't tell people what to eat; they must decide that for themselves," Gisser said. "But I do make recommendations based upon their personal goals, their constitutional makeup and whatever health issues they have."
The individual nature is what makes Gisser's work different from that of other nutritionists and weight-loss specialists. In her view, the key to winning the battle of the bulge--or more importantly, moving the body into a healthy state--is getting in touch with your own intuitive sense of what your body needs and wants.
"It's about getting to know, in terms of food and exercise, what will work best for you," she said.
The only way to achieve that, she said, is trial and error: Keep a food diary and make changes in your diet based upon what you learn. Try different forms of exercise and see what is most effective and what makes you feel best.
Judy Gisser's Weight Tips
● Ask yourself before you eat, "Am I hungry?" Recognize the physical signs of hunger and acknowledge if you make the choice to eat for other reasons.
● Experiment with non-food strategies to deal with avoidance, boredom, fatigue, frustration, and sadness.
● Practice mindful eating. Be relaxed. Experience the aroma, taste and texture of foods as you chew well and relish every bite.
● Commit to checking in, noticing when your stomach is full and stopping eating then even if there is still food on your plate.
● Notice how you feel after eating. Keep track in a food diary of your meals and see if there is a connection between bloating, gas, mucous build-up, brain fog, fatigue or other undesirable reaction after eating specific foods. Remove suspects from your diet for three or four weeks and see what happens. The foods that you feel you must eat every day to be happy are most often the culprit.
● If you still can't get the scale to budge, many other factors can create weight issues including medications, stress, heavy metal and other toxic accumulations that can interfere with metabolism. A visit with a nutritionist or doctor may help.
Judy Gisser on Exercise
1. Building muscle helps you burn more calories at rest, which increases metabolism.
2. Exercise boosts your mood, removing one of the reasons some people overeat or gravitate to high-sugar, high-fat comfort foods.
3. To reach and maintain a healthy weight, particularly after 40, many people find an average of 60 minutes of physical activity a day five to six days a week makes all the difference.
For more information on Judith Gisser and her view of healthy nutrition, check out her website.
Quick note: Thanks to all the good people of Parsippany who have wished me and the other Patchers well on the PTIO challenge. The support is very much appreciated. And it's never too late to join us. Email me for details. I have noticed that our esteemed Mayor James Barberio is slimming down and looking good. (Ask him for his faux ice cream recipe.) Same for Township Council member John Cesaro, who will share his experiences as part of PTIO for Patch soon. Good luck to them and to all who are working to become healthier.
Next week on the Patch Takes It Off challenge, we dance our way to health.