You can't turn on your computer these days without seeing headlines like these: Get Rid of Belly Fat!, Lose Those Pregnancy Pounds!, Starve Yourself Into That Bridesmaids Dress! I'm not 25 anymore and those diets don't work for me or for anyone I know. That's why when Celebrity Dietician Ashley Koff RD reached out to my business partner and I with an innovative health plan, we jumped at it.
We're not going on a crash diet and we're not doing extreme exercise. Instead, we are undergoing a 9-month Make Better Challenge. It's called a Make Better because it's so much more than a traditional makeover. Ashley is teaching us how to make better food choices and she's enlisted the help of Fitness Expert Holly Perkins to help us integrate exercise into our daily lives. My MomsLA.com partner, Sarah Auerswald, and I are different ages and different fitness levels, but we both were at a point where we felt we had to make a change for our health. We started in September and the challenge will last for 9 months - the length of our children's school year.
I asked Ashley and Holly to share their thinking behind the Make Better Makeover and what motivates them:
With more than 71.3 million women over 20 in the United States overweight or obese (and more shockingly, 75 percent of Mexican-American women are overweight or obese), why did you name the challenge "Make Better" instead of a "get skinny" or simply a "makeover?"
Ashley Koff - You ladies are great as you are! But you are interested in improving your health - achieving better health - so the "better" part of Make Better fits. Also, it's noteworthy to say "better" vs. "best" - there is no room for perfection when it comes to nutrition goals or health.
Holly Perkins - I feel like the idea of a "Make Over" implies that you aren't fabulous as you are. It's important to me to help people see their attributes that make them amazing. Make Better is about finding those areas where you want to inspire change and progress along side of all the things that make you amazing.
What trend do you see with women's health and fitness? Do you see that women are taking better care of themselves these days or are they too focused on work and family to make time for mom?
Ashley Koff - There's increasing awareness (among moms) of the need to take care of themselves coupled with increasing awareness that a lot of what is presented (by typical diets) are marketing efforts or programs that at best, achieve short term results. I don't think anyone says "I am too busy to improve my health" and means it - I believe women are thinking: "I am afraid that what I am being told I need to do isn't doable with the current demands for my time and I am also afraid that like other efforts I have made, any new ones won't really work."
Holly Perkins - Women will always prioritize the needs of family first and often put personal needs on the back burner, but I always tell my mom-clients that they can be a great mom AND carve out some time for self-improvement. Self-improvement can mean many things, and when it comes to fitness and health, many women feel guilty taking time out. I see a trend where women are coming to grips with the idea that self-improvement can also mean that she will be an even better mom, wife, and friend.
If there were one thing that you would suggest a woman do to have a happier, healthier life - from altering eating habits to starting a workout plan - what would it be?
Ashley Koff - Become a Qualitarian. When we give the body better quality food, drink, and supplements, we give it what it recognizes and that results in greater efficiency, which produces better energy, better recovery, and overall better health. And it does so without going into Debbie Deprivation Dieter Dilemma.
Holly Perkins - I wish every woman would identify one time each week where she can do something nurturing for herself … without guilt! ANY little bit of exercise is better than none. Something as simple as a 10-minute stretch session can inspire you and help you make the commitment to your health and fitness.
We are one month into our MakeBetter Challenge and so far the results for me have been life-changing. I've always thought I must do something extreme to lose weight and feel healthier. In the past, I've been vegan, cut out sugar, and stopped eating carbohydrates. Needless to say, those plans didn't work. What has been working for me over the last month is the idea that I should think about what I'm eating. Is this the best quality, healthiest food for me? Do I need a second glass of wine? Should I choose a cupcake or a piece of dark chocolate? I'm making healthier choices, but I don't at all feel deprived.
As far as exercise, since working with Holly and reading Gretchen Reynolds' book The First 20 Minutes, I've changed the way I work out and it's much more manageable. I used to think that if I didn't have time to run 4 miles then I should wait until I did. But any exercise that you can squeeze in during the day will be beneficial to your overall health.
- By Yvonne Condes
For 10 crazy things women do to lose weight, visit Babble!
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Yvonne Condes is the Editor and co-Founder of MomsLA.com. She is a Los Angeles Mom of 2, a former newspaper reporter, and occasional marathoner (which means she did two races and is still talking about it). She writes about keeping her Latino culture alive with her two boys and keeping herself alive when they are hiking, biking, or camping.
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