April 7, 2011

Our Biggest Losers Revealed

Author: Maria Conley, RD, LD/N

Biggest Loser Winners! At the beginning of 2011, the food bank challenged its employees to get healthier by shedding some extra weight, rightly so with the kickoff of the Pound for Pound Challenge. Sixteen employees committed themselves to the challenge for 12 weeks. “The Biggest Loser” would be the person who lost the greatest percentage of body weight.

Drumroll please…

Our Leading Overall Loser was our Vice President of Development Greg Higgerson! Greg lost approximately 30 pounds. Our Leading Female Loser was Jen Gibson! Jen lost approximately 15 pounds.

Here are some words Greg shared on his experience:

“One of the biggest [things I realized] was that I didn’t need to spend a single penny on special foods, pills or even a gym membership. Every bit of equipment that I needed to experience a healthy and sustained weight loss was already inside me. I’ve lost weight before utilizing various popular methods, only to gain it back over time. It’s always been so discouraging that I have been reluctant to even try it again. This time around I realized that I needed to work on my mind before I worked on my body.

I took some time and really allowed myself to consider what being too heavy has meant for both me and for my family. And then I thought about what it would mean in the future if I didn’t change things. Illness, disability, or worse for me, and a true burden on the people I love most. They don’t deserve that.

What they do deserve is a husband and father who actually has some energy left at the end of the day to be involved with their lives. I came to understand that for most of my marriage and my kids’ lives, I’ve been guilty of what songwriter Robert Earl Keen calls a ‘dreadful selfish crime.’ That my being overweight wasn’t something that ‘just happened to me,’ but was something that I have consciously or unconsciously chosen for myself. That’s when I realized that I could choose to do something different just as easily.”

“For me, doing something different has involved making smarter, more conscious decisions about the kinds of food I eat, and how much of it. I decided, for example, to become two-thirds of a vegetarian. Eat plant-based foods for two meals each day, and then have some meat (if I choose) with the third meal.

As someone who has gotten most of his vegetables on a Whopper with cheese over the past few decades, I expected that to feel like a sacrifice. It hasn’t. In fact, I now feel genuine cravings for salads and vegetables in ways that I’ve not before. I look forward to those plant-based foods, and often find myself skipping meat all together for a few days at a time just by chance. Doing something different has also meant getting off the couch in the evenings and moving my body.

 It’s meant dragging my rear end out the door after the kids are in bed to walk/jog three miles. I expected that to be a dreaded and painful routine as well, but it wasn’t. Not after the first week or so. In fact, I started looking forward to my hour on the road each night as an unwinding experience where I could hook up my ear buds and Pandora radio and start to experience my favorite music regularly again. It’s my ‘hour of peace’ each day. Now on nights when I can’t get out there for some reason, I miss it.”

“In short, I’ve been able to take some very bad habits and replace them with better habits that really aren’t any harder or more expensive than what I was doing before. And the result is that I feel better, I have more energy, I don’t snore as much anymore, and I’m even singing better in my band. All of these things add up to a big positive that I now don’t want to give up. Not ever.”

Hooray for Greg and Jen!! We hope their success will inspire you towards better health too! Thank you everyone for participating in the Pound for Pound Challenge.
Maria Ali, RD, LD/N
Nutrition Manager

March 31, 2011

Announcement: The Biggest Loser Winners!

Author: Maria Conley, RD, LD/N

Congratulations to…
The “Cheetah” –  Greg Higgerson
For taking 1st place overall as Biggest Loser


The “Peacock” – Jenn Gibson
For taking 1st place female Biggest Loser

Everyone, please congratulate our 2 leading “losers!!!”

Biggest Loser Winners!














I’m so proud of Second Harvest’s Biggest Loser Team. They all deserve a pat on the back for making it a goal to get healthier in 2011. Everyone had their challenges but they all kept going!

Below is a graph of Second Harvest’s Biggest Loser’s total weight loss over the last 3 months.

Biggest Loser Chart

Maria Ali, RD, LD/N
Nutrition Manager

March 24, 2011

Biggest Loser Week Tip 11: A Lasting Appetite

Author: Maria Conley, RD, LD/N

Biggest Loser Week 11 Tip: A Lasting AppetiteHello Biggest Losers! 7 days left until our FINAL Weigh-In! The leading animals will finally be revealed.

Tip of the Week: A Lasting Appetite

Do you eat and feel hungry an hour later? After eating a meal, do you soon begin to feel like you want to doze off? What is the secret of having sustained energy and a more satisfied appetite?

The right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in your meals and snacks will not only energize you, but will also help sustain your appetite until the next mealtime.

Here are some tips for a lasting appetite:

1. Avoid eating carbohydrates by themselves.
Many people enjoy snacking on foods like crackers, granola bars, and fruit. Carbohydrate-dense snacks rev you up but they don’t necessarily keep you up. A solution is to pair carbs up with protein. Convenient sources of protein include peanut butter, lowfat cheese, hard-boiled eggs, plain yogurt or even bean dip or hummus.  

2. Don’t stop moving after dinner.
Dinner tends to be many people’s largest meal of the day. Eat, lounge, eat again, then go to sleep. Sound familiar? If you’re trying to manage your weight, lounging and sleeping on hundreds of calories is not the way to do it. After dinner, relax then get back up and get moving. Walk the dog. Do some laundry. Just don’t sit on the couch the rest of the evening. Moving after a meal increases insulin sensitivity and helps control blood sugar levels, which can influence your appetite and prevent you from going back into the kitchen for a late night snack.

3. Avoid extra large portions.
Imagine a plate filled with spaghetti and meat balls or maybe even spaghetti with garlic bread. Is this what your plate looks like? If this is all you have on your plate, you likely are consuming oversized portions. Try to fill your plate with 3 types of food. Fill half with non-starchy vegetables (salad, summer squash, green beans, etc.) Fill one of the remaining quarters with protein (like your meat sauce) and the other quarter with a starchy food (like the noodles OR the garlic bread). This method helps ensure a well-balanced and proportioned meal that will keep you coasting through the rest of your day.
Maria Ali, RD, LD/N
Nutrition Manager

March 16, 2011

Biggest Loser Tip 10: Have you hit a plateau?

Author: Maria Conley, RD, LD/N

Biggest Loser Week 11 Tip: Have you hit a plateau?Biggest Losers! Woo-hoo! Only 2 weeks LEFT!!

I’ve heard some of you say the weight loss is starting to slow down. I know for some it’s because your motivation has dwindled. And for others, you’ve been pressing forward and you’re hitting what’s commonly referred to as a plateau. Fear not! Here are a few tips that will hopefully re-motivate you and encourage you to press through. You may not have lost as much as you wanted these last 10 weeks, but make the next 2 weeks count for more!

How to Overcome a Weight-Loss Plateau
By Mayo Clinic staff

If you’re at a plateau, you may have lost all of the weight you will given the number of calories you’re eating each day and the time you spend exercising. At this point, you need to ask yourself if you’re satisfied with your current weight or if you want to lose more, in which case you’ll need to adjust your weight-loss program. If you’re committed to losing more weight, try these tips for getting past the plateau:

Reassess your habits. Look back at your food and activity [habits]. Make sure you haven’t loosened the rules, letting yourself get by with larger portions or less exercise.

Cut more calories. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 calories — provided this doesn’t put you below 1,200 calories. Fewer than 1,200 calories a day may not be enough to keep you from feeling hungry all of the time, which increases your risk of overeating.

– Rev up your workout. Increase the amount of time you exercise by an additional 15 to 30 minutes. You might also try increasing the intensity of your exercise, if you feel that’s possible. Additional exercise will cause you to burn more calories.

Pack more activity into your day. Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more and using your car less, or try doing more yardwork or vigorous spring cleaning.

Read more: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/weight-loss-plateau/MY01152


Maria Ali, RD, LD/N
Nutrition Manager

March 2, 2011

Pound for Pound Tip #8 – Get Moving

Author: Maria Conley, RD, LD/N

We just wanted to update you on the progress of Second Harvest’s Biggest Loser Team! We are a little more than halfway there. Below is our updated chart:

 Pound for Pound Tip #10 - Keep Moving!















Woo-hoo!! We have one individual that has lost almost 10% of their original body weight!

How is your Team doing? How are you doing with the challenge? Was your goal to lose 5% of your original body weight? Maybe it was 10%? Whatever the case, keep on moving along. DO NOT GIVE UP!! There are No Quitters at the food bank!

Here’s our Tip for this Week: Get Moving!
Written by Kristina LaRue, Nutrition Intern at Second Harvest Food Bank

Get Moving!

You may have decided to skip that slice of chocolate cake, but are you having a hard time fitting the exercise piece into your weight loss regime? … The competition is getting stiff! It’s time to kick it up a notch and feel the burn!

Exercise influences weight loss in a major way. Everyone has to eat, but everyone doesn’t choose to exercise. Exercise can give your body the extra push that’s needed to shed those lingering pounds. Best of all, it doesn’t always mean sweating bullets on the stair stepper.

Here are some fun “non-exercise” activities:

• Fix up the house — clean, paint, rearrange the furniture or plant a garden.
• Instead of watching TV, go outside. Take a stroll around the block or play Frisbee with the kids.
• Take your bike to the grocery store or to work. (You might just save some gas money, too!)
• On the weekend, go hiking, swimming, rollerblading, or take your dog to the park and play fetch.
• Raining? Find a good workout video. Look on the computer, flip through the TV channels, or get one at the store.
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther away from your destination and walk.
• Volunteer in the community. Keep yourself active.
• Do it yourself. Instead of asking others to get something for you, get up and get it!

Do you want to know how to burn more calories while sleeping? Include strength training into your weight loss plan. The more muscle you have the more calories you will burn.

Happy weight loss!
Maria Ali, RD, LD/N
Nutrition Manager


For every pound you pledge to lose through May 31, 2011, the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 11¢ to Feeding America® — enough to secure one pound of groceries on behalf of local food banks. It’s not too late to sign up for the Pound for Pound Challenge: http://www.pfpchallenge.com/fl

February 17, 2011

Pound for Pound Tips from Second Harvest Employees

Author: Maria Conley, RD, LD/N

Pound for Pound Tips from Second Harvest Employees What better way to inspire you this week than to let you hear what tips have helped Second Harvest Employees! 

 5 Tips from Our Leading Biggest Losers:

 1.   You can’t have it all. You have to make choices about which food items you decide to eat to keep the balance in your favor.

Take a situation like this:
Say you go to Cheesecake Factory for dinner one night. Of course you want to have some cheesecake—plan to order a smaller and healthier dinner like grilled fish and substitute a starchy side with a double side of veggies. Now you have created room for some dessert calories! Go ahead and split that piece of cheesecake with someone.  This is exactly how you have your cake and eat it too.

 2.   Plan ahead. Meal-planning is one of the most important habits in managing your weight and your health.

 Think about what you have planned for the week. Identify the days you know you will be going out to eat or eating a larger meal. Maybe you have a party to go to or you plan to splurge over the weekend? Balance out what you choose to eat and drink days prior to then. Pack a healthier lunch and cook lighter dinners in preparation for that weekend splurge or festivity.  Additionally, before you head out to a restaurant, look up your favorite meals online to see the nutrition facts. Then decide if that meal is a good choice for you to order or how much of a portion you can calorically afford.

 3.   Eat more low-calorie foods like fruits and veggies.  

Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients and fiber. They are one of the healthiest additions you can add to your meals. Make it a goal to add some at every meal and snack that you eat. Add fruit to breakfast cereal, or eat a piece of fresh fruit with whole-grain toast and peanut butter. Pack fruit and veggie cuts for that afternoon snack. Double-up your non-starchy veggie portion at dinner…you’ll likely eat less of everything else, without feeling any less satisfied. 

4. Vary up your protein sources. You don’t have to eat meat at every meal.  

Eating smaller portions of meat and eating meat less often is a great habit to take on. Instead of grabbing a beef taco opt for a bean burrito once in a while. Consider eating vegetarian certain days or for certain meals of the week. 

5.   Push yourself to grow … Muscles that is.

There’s no better way to trim up than to combine healthier eating with exercise. You’ll see faster results and feel a difference sooner! Pushing yourself a little harder, further or faster than the day before keeps it interesting and makes you feel accomplished.

They shared some great advice didn’t they?

Maria Ali, RD, LD/N
Nutrition Manager