Saturday, May 14, 2016

When Surrender Leads to Triumph


Letting go of sugar was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Cutting out grain was the next step I had to take in order to overcome my compulsive overeating, and the end of the hunger, bloating, and joint aches it was causing came as quite a shock.

I wish giving up sugar and grains had been enough, but there was one more truth I had to accept.  In order to keep all of the benefits of healthy eating, I would have to let go of wine as well.

Ah wine, my old friend.  When I think of lovely days gone by, how often wine is there.  I remember sunny lunches with Mom.  Relaxing hours on the back porch resting in the knowledge that the work of the day was done, and the taste of chardonnay was like liquid sunshine warming my spirit, and letting me feel that everything was going to be all right.

Are you one of those people that has a haunting feeling fluttering in the back of your mind that disaster might strike?

Does an insidious voice whisper to you that you have left things undone.? Does it call you selfish, possibly lazy, and does it insist that one day everyone is going to find out and abandon you?

Does wine make the voice shut up and get lost?

It does for me.  Through one glass and the second the voice is quiet.  Then a new voice pipes up.

This new voice tells me to eat.

You see, as I approached age 50 I became more and more sensitive to alcohol.  Now when I drink, my stomach gets upset, and my heart starts to beat faster.  Even after just a glass or two, I wake up with headaches and a tight throat in the morning.

How many half bottles of wine have I poured down the drain to insure that the pain doesn't come back?  I just poured out another one.

As a personal trainer and weight management coach, I am regularly asked,

"Is wine OK?"

For many women and men it is.  If it fits in with your macronutrient goals (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) you can include it in your eating strategy and still lose fat.   The liver is a vital organ in fat loss, and I has to process alcohol first, so that fact can slow fat loss down.  Still, for many people a glass of wine is life enhancing if it doesn't lead to over indulging.

For me though, a little always leads to too much: whether it's too much wine or too much food.

To triumph and stay lean, young, and energetic, I have to surrender sugar, grains, and wine.  Day by day I need to remind myself that a clear head and a clear conscience feel far better then the brief freedom from self-criticism I get from the fist sip, or two.

With every year that passes I can look back on more evidence that my days without wine are so much richer, more fulfilling, and joyful.  I think of days when I surrender and leave out the foods and the drink that hurts me as pearls that I string together to create something of beauty and value.

Today is pearl one.  Today I pray for a beautiful life.

One pearl at a time.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

This Is How I Stopped Overeating




"So Cathy, how would you like to count calories?'

My decades long struggle with overeating began with that question.

I had been a generally happy and carefree child until my father died suddenly when I was six years old.  On that day, I became truly and deeply frightened, and the people around me became frightened for me.  I was terrified that my mother was going to disappear.  I went to school and tried to act like a normal kid, but I was numb with fear.

It wasn't long before I found that eating helped keep the fear of being abandoned in a manageable corner of my mind.  The foods that blocked out feelings best were bread and sweets, so I ate them whenever I could.  After two years of overeating at meals, snacks, and in secret, I had rolls of fat on my body that were becoming embarrassing: especially to my family.  Something had to be done.

My Mom took me to the doctor and his solution was a low-fat, calorie restricted diet.  The out of control fear and compulsion that drove me to overeat bread and sweets was still there, but now I also had the guilt of not being able to control it.

The very worst part was the fact that the foods that satisfied me, like eggs, bacon, chicken, and vegetables cooked in fat, were restricted.

Small amounts of foods that left me feeling famished, like rice crispies and skim milk, toast and orange juice, grapes, bananas, and sandwiches with a little bit of turkey and mustard, made up my daily diet.

The worst part was trying to eat the occasional treat without going overboard. Eating one cookie, a small slice of cake, or a cup of ice cream, was a nightmare, because those foods simply made me ravenous for more.

The only thing worse than having to eat in secret to stop the horrible feeling of starving, was being caught and shamed by my family members.  To this day I have to carefully practice forgiveness in order to let go of the shocking feelings of hatred that go with these memories.

So many times, the people who humiliated me were naturally slender.  I struggle every day with my anger against people who judge those of us who are, or who have been overweight, even though they have never felt the pain of the compulsive drive to overeat.

I am a member of the National Weight Control Registry, which is a research database of individuals who have lost more than 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year.  I was contacted by ABC News in 2014, and they used a few of my before and after photos in their story: Secrets of the Super Dieters.  http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/secrets-super-dieters-21442437

That was an encouraging moment because the story cites two things that have helped me keep the fat off:

1. Don't Cheat
2. Eat Breakfast.

Unfortunately, some of the most influential people in the fitness industry insist that cheat meals are essential for getting lean, and that how much you eat is the only thing that matters: not when.

I have become convinced that the biggest mistake overweight overeaters are making is this: they are trying to lose weight by copying the eating habits of naturally slender people.

I have overcome obesity, and I have personally coached dozens of individuals who have overcome it too.  From my direct experience I know this:  Trying to eat a little bit of everything, also known as moderation, made me obese.

So how did I stop overeating?

1. I eliminated my compulsive trigger foods.  If I can't eat a standard serving of any food and be satisfied, I don't eat it.  Ever.

2. I committed to planning my meals every morning.  I decide what I'm going to eat, and then I eat it. My overeating is so serious, that I must take eating seriously.

3. Success starts with breakfast.  With eight years of weight maintenance under my belt I know this: when I eat a nourishing and satisfying breakfast, I have set myself up for success for the entire day.

There you have it.  Those are the 3 steps I take every morning to prevent overeating.

Because of these steps, my life is the richest and fullest it has ever been.  My work as a personal trainer, nutrition specialist, and food writer is an expression of the message I carry so passionately: Find the foods that nourish and satisfy you, and don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it: especially someone who has never experienced the pain of compulsive over-eating.

If you are interested in the program my clients, readers, and I have used to achieve permanent fat loss, you can find it here: SugarFreedom.com

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Simple Diet That Works.

It's been two years and one day since the launch of Sugar Freedom. I remember that I was so afraid that no one would buy it. Even worse was the fear that people would buy it, and it wouldn't work. Back in late December of 2013, I had worked with about a dozen clients at Gordon Studio who had used the program, and the results were powerful. In the first three days, also known as the "Sugar Strike," the typical weight loss was 5 pounds. Then we saw consistent fat loss of a pound a week. When clients hit plateaus, which they did, I would advise more water, more green vegetables, and long gentle walks. This consistently did the trick, and so they were able to stick with the program. Many of these original "Freedom Fans" are still on the program, including the lovely Pam Junette who is now a trainer here at Gordon Studio. A little more than a year ago, I started offering 6 week sugar freedom challenges which combined interval, resistance, and restorative training training to the program. The results shocked me. Among clients who eliminated sugar, grains, and traditional cardio, the success rate was literally 100%. Specifically, every one of these participants lost at least a pound a week regardless or their age or how much body fat they wanted to lose. In 2015 alone, Gordon Studio members lost more than 1200 pounds and inches. By the way, Gordon Studio is less than 1200 square feet big so I can say that it's truly the little studio with the big results. I became a Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and a fitness studio owner specifically because I could no longer tolerate seeing women and men train and diet without seeing the changes they longed for. The feeling I get when I see a client transform her body is profoundly inspiring. I wanted to share their success with you because I know you can do it too. If you get the Sugar Freedom program, at www.sugarfreedom.com, you have the exact nutrition strategy they used to create their fat loss success. The New Year is coming, and people everywhere will be making resolutions to lose weight. If you are like me and my clients, and you've become convinced that sugar and grains are holding you back from the body you desire and deserve, now is truly the time to take action. I am committed to bringing you more recipes, meal plans, and motivational strategies in 2016. Please don't hesitate to e-mail me: catherine@sugarfreedom.com if you have questions or concerns when you do the program. This is our year to develop the health, fitness, and enthusiasm to realize our dreams. Your Friend in Fitness, Catherine Gordon ACE-CPT Certified Nutrition Specialist Member: National Weight Control Registry

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Best Weight Loss Advice I Ever Got

Last year, at the Turbulence Training Summit in San Diego, I had the extraordinary opportunity to take a walk with world famous fitness expert Alwyn Cosgrove. As the owner with his wife Rachel of Results Fitness,and the co-author of "The New rules of Lifting for Women," he has had an extraordinary influence on the world of fat loss and figure transformation. He and Rachel have a program that takes advanced trainees to very low body fat levels, and I asked Alwyn what his best advice was for losing the last five pounds. "Have fun." He answered. "Have fun?" I replied.  I thought the last 5 or 10 pounds were supposed to be the hardest to lose. Then he explained the secret.  "You have to make it fun, because if you don't, your cortisol level will rise, and you'll gain fat instead of losing it." Now, I warn my members at Gordon Studio regularly about the trouble with elevated cortisol, and how excess cardio can make cortisol levels rise at the worst time.  Lately, I've been studying how to manage cortisol levels through subtle changes to my exercise and nutrition program. You see, I have a photo shoot coming up in 2 weeks, and I'm always looking for ways to help my clients and readers get great results. My latest experiment has been to take Alwyn's advice and have fun in the pursuit of lower body fat. Here is what I've been doing.  Every week night, after I teach my last TT class of the day, I pick up my son and we head for the pool. We spent the last hour of the day as the sun gets lower throwing the nerf football and swimming slow laps or quick fun sprints. We both wear fins for the laps because it makes them feel almost effortless and completely enjoyable. It's working! As of this morning, my body fat percentage was down to exactly 19%, I'm in my ideal weight range, and I still have 2 weeks to go before picture day.  Why don't you try adding some fun, playful movement to the end of your day?  You could stroll, dance, garden, go for an easy bike ride, or a fun swim. Technically, I believe it's working because it normalizes cortisol and and insulin levels so I can release fat. What's more it helps me sleep.  Finally, it brings Summer happiness to the end of the day. So I want to to find your Summer happiness, and maybe you'll get a fat loss bonus to boot.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The 800 Calorie Diet That Didn't Work. (And a sample menu from the one that does.)

Years ago, when I was a “starving” actor in Hollywood, I was a member of a paid diet program that had me come in and get weighed every weekday. The program used some effective strategies for weight loss. For example, we all had a “Before” pictures taken, we were measured at the start, and usually every four weeks after that. Alcohol was strictly forbidden, and there were weekly group meetings where we could talk about our struggles and successes. I did my best to work the program 4 different times. Here’s how it always went: I lost weight rapidly at the start, sometimes significant amounts, but my appetite inevitably got stronger while my motivation and energy for daily living got weaker. I would fall of the wagon, eat like crazy, and regain the weight, plus more. Yes, it was the classic yo-yo dieting pattern I had been following since childhood. I had been meaning to go back, write down, and closely examine what was on that diet for years. I wanted to examine why it worked in the short term, and why it ultimately failed. Note that I wrote, “It Failed.” If there is one thing I have learned from my diet history, and from experience coaching fat loss clients, it's that we don’t fail diets the way we fail tests. I believe that carrying excess body fat is an individual issue, and that when a diet doesn’t work it simply isn’t the right solution for whatever is causing us to store excess fat at that point in our lives. When I posted this meal plan on the secret Facebook group that is part of the 6 week Sugar Freedom Challenges I have offered, I got some very interesting feedback. Many of the members had followed similar plans with the same results: Early weight loss followed by extreme hunger, weakness, and re-gain of the weight lost. So here it is: Breakfast: 2 Eggs cooked in 1 teaspoon butter1 Apple1 Wasa Crisp bread Lunch: Large green salad with 1 teaspoon olive oil and vinegar for dressing 3 oz chicken breast 1 cup cucumber Dinner: 3 oz sirloin steak 1 cup green beans with 1 teaspoon butter 1 wasa crisp bread Snack: 1 orange When I look at this plan, what jumps out at me is the lesson that, no matter how much you want to be thin, hunger always wins when you try to cut your energy intake to the bone. This is such a small amount of food, but I’ll bet you’ve tried diets that look just like this! So what does work? With every successful client I coach the answer becomes more clear. We must find the individual eating plan that provides satisfaction and abundant energy, while allowing for a moderate and consistent release of weight through fat burning. To put it more clearly, we must train the body to use fat for energy. So today I will leave you with a daily menu that works for me and for my clients. Breakfast: 2 Deviled Eggs Sliced tomato drizzled with olive oil and raspberry vinegar 2-3 slices Canadian Bacon Lunch: 4 oz. Turkey with red bell pepper and zesty sauce (I mix salsa with mustard.) Cabbage Leaf wraps Mixed Vegetables cooked in coconut oil or grass-fed butter Dinner: Shrimp with Zucchini “Pasta” and parmesan cheese Heat 1T butter in a large pan. Grate zucchini into the pan and stir until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and top with grated parmesan cheese. Thaw 3-4 oz large frozen shrimp. Stir fry them in butter and one large diced garlic clove until warm- don’t over cook. Serve over zucchini. Sliced Tomato and mozzarella salad with olive oil and a 1t balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar contains sugar, so use sparingly. Note: I make simple deviled eggs like this: Slice 2 hard boiled eggs in half. Scoop out yolks and mix with 1-2 teaspoons flavored olive oil: meyer lemon is my favorite. Add 1/2 teaspoon prepared organic mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Re-fill eggs and sprinkle with paprika. ===>Click Here<=== to try the eating plan that helped me finally lose the weight I struggled with for all those years.