Breaking Bad Habits

Posted by Jennifer (the RD) on January 28, 2012 (Re-posted from 1/9/12, when we were a new blog)

There probably isn’t anyone on the face of the earth that does not have any bad habits. I was reading an article that discussed a new study by USC psychologists (published in the journal Pesonality and Social Psychology Bulletin), that helps explain why habits are so hard to break. In an experiment, the USC psychologists gave some movie theatre customers buckets of popcorn. Some of the buckets contained freshly popped popcorn and others contained week old, stale kernels.At the end of the movie, researchers measured the amount of popcorn eaten and by whom. It seems that the people that did not usually eat popcorn when watching a movie ate much less stale popcorn. However, those that routinely munched on popcorn while watching a movie ate the same amount of popcorn whether it was stale or fresh. It was a habit. Sounds discouraging, doesn’t it? According to the study, the movie theatre acted as a strong environmental cue that triggered an automatic eating behavior.
So, this may be why it is so hard to stop eating those cookies before we go to bed, or why we just can’t add those extra 20 minutes to our exercise routine. According to the study, changing environmental cues that enforce bad habits may help to break them. For example, eating food with your non dominant hand may disrupt habitual eating. In the study mentioned above, asking moviegoers to eat with their non dominant hand seemed to cause people to pay attention to what they were eating and eat less stale popcorn. I can recall a time when I was struggling with my exercise routine. I wanted to add a little more to my weekly regimen, but for some reason, I was so programmed to exercise for a certain amount of time before work, I just could not do it. So, I decided to break routine, and add a 1 hour walk with my dog 3 times a week so both of us could get more exercise. It worked beautifully! The lead author of the USC study, David Neal, stated that “…will power and good intentions are not enough, and we need to trick our brains by controlling the environment instead.”

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Posted by Jennifer (the student) on January 28, 2013 (this is a re-post from 1/31/12, when we were a new blog)

Most of us don’t even think about the small choices we make everyday that affect our health, weight and fitness level. All those small choices can lead to a healthier lifestyle from drinking more water to exercising even when you don’t feel like it.We all have obstacles in our life that we can’t control. But there is so much that is in our control.

Personally, I am aiming to make smart choices 80% of the time. Nobody is perfect. This little bit of freedom is helping me to pursue my goals. Whatever your personal goal is, don’t beat yourself up over small slip- ups.  Success is a series of small choices. Try to focus on the big picture.

Remember to celebrate both small and large victories, while keeping the greater goals in sight.

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One Goal at a Time

goals-002-448x600         roast-chicken

Posted by Denise (Jennifer the RD’s sister) on January 28, 2013

My idea for goal setting is to pick one new goal every year.  Goal setting that is unrealistic never leads to success.

So, what I try to do is choose one new goal every year.  Last year, I switched out all of my light bulbs to the “green,” energy efficient varieties.  This year, I am buying only organic chicken.  I typically buy a whole, organic chicken  and cook it up and use it in various recipes.

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My Tips for Reaching Health and Lifestyle Goals

Posted by Jennifer (the RD) on January 28, 2013


I always used to think that if you wanted to succeed in anything, the best thing to do was to take control of the situation and do everything on your own.  I’m a pretty stubborn person sometimes and don’t ask for help.    However, over the last year, I’ve learned that friends and family can really help you reach goals, including your health and lifestyle goals.  Above is a picture of Christina and I.  We supported each other through that crazy 5K run.  Increasing physical activity can be more fun when you involve friends!  🙂

Here are some ways to give or receive support from friends and family:

  • exercise together
  • help friends and family with meal preparation
  • be a cheerleader along the way to reaching goals
  • ask your friends or family if there is anything you can do to help them reach their goals
  • swap healthy meal ideas or exercise routines;  at work, I am trying to help my co-workers makeover some of their favorite, high fat recipes!  🙂

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This New Year Make Your Weight Loss Resolution a Success

by Stan Spencer (@DrStanSpencer)


Most of us have dieted to lose weight, only to gain it back again within a few weeks or months. It isn’t that diets don’t work. It’s that they don’t last. Most diets are so unpleasant, inconvenient, boring, complex, or expensive that they are difficult to stick with for very long. When you quite the diet, the weight returns.

Think of excess fat as a collection of bad habits. Lose the habits and you will lose the fat. Each time you give up one of these bad habits (all other things being equal), you will lose fat until your body naturally settles at a lower weight. The key to making these habits stick and successfully keeping the weight off is to create your own weight loss plan—one custom made to fit your particular needs, abilities, and preferences. When designed correctly, this custom plan is your easiest path to a naturally thin lifestyle and body. While each person’s optimal plan is unique, every plan for permanent weight loss should have the following elements:

Personal Preferences

There is no single formula for natural, permanent weight loss. You don’t need to make yourself miserable. Eating yogurt can help you lose weight, but if you really don’t like yogurt, don’t include it in your plan. There are plenty of other things you can do to lose weight naturally.

Changes You Can Live With

Include in your plan only those things you are willing to make lifelong habits. Giving up desserts for a month to lose weight may accomplish that goal, but the lost weight will return just as soon as you start eating desserts again. A better approach might be to limit yourself to one dessert a day, with more allowed on a few special days, and to make it a lifelong habit. You’ll lose less weight, but the weight you lose won’t be coming back. Permanent weight loss requires permanent changes in habits.

Easy Ways to Control Emotional Eating

We often eat for emotional comfort, not because we are hungry. This is called emotional eating. The best way to prevent emotional eating is to learn how to regulate your emotions in other ways. These may include getting more social interaction or using techniques such as meditation or mindfulness to calm your emotions.

Quick Ways to Calm Cravings

Cravings for junk food can crush even the strongest resolve and wreck your attempts to lose weight. The key is not to have more willpower, but to know how to make the cravings weaker so the willpower you already have does the job. For example, taking a brisk, short walk has been shown in scientific studies to reduce chocolate cravings.

Smarter Exercise

Trying to lose weight by doing exercises you hate is a recipe for failure. Find ways to get exercise that you enjoy. Even better, exercise with someone else. You’ll stick with it longer. Do exercises that build muscle, not just burn calories directly. The new muscle will boost your metabolism so you burn more calories even while you’re sleeping.

Removing the Temptations at Home

It’s usually easier to remove temptations than to resist them. Get rid of the junk food in your house. Try to avoid places that tempt you to overeat. Stock your refrigerator with weight loss foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, nuts, and whole grains.

Making the Easiest Changes in Habits First

Your weight loss plan might include forming new habits such as meditating daily, eating more whole grains for breakfast, eating sweets only once a day, and exercising five days a week. Don’t try to develop all of your weight loss habits at once. Start with the ones that are easiest. After you have reaped the weight loss rewards of the easier habits you will have extra motivation to tackle habits that require more effort.

Not Expecting Quick or Immediate Results

It’s better to lose twenty pounds over the course of a year than to lose twenty pounds in a month then gain it all back. Changing habits takes time. You probably gained your extra weight slowly, one habit at a time. Let yourself lose it the same way. After two or three weeks with each new habit, it will begin to feel natural, and you will be a naturally thinner person.

So make a new plan for the new year—one that gives you the best chance of long term success.

Find more help for making your New Year’s weight-loss resolution a success in The Diet Dropout’s Guide to Natural Weight Loss.

stan_spencer         logo_kiwi

Stan Spencer, PhD, is a biological consultant, former research scientist, and author of The Diet Dropout’s Guide to Natural Weight Loss: Find Your Easiest Path to Naturally Thin (Fine Life Books, 2013). He lives in southern California and blogs on natural weight loss techniques at

Thank you Dr Spencer for contributing to our blog party. If you are interested in losing weight, check out The Diet Dropout’s Guide to Natural Weight Loss by Stan Spencer, PhD. Here is our review.

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Let’s Get This Party Started!


Welcome to Jenmi Jenmi’s One Year Anniversary Party!  We are celebrating for 5 days, each day will feature a different post-sharing theme to enhance and help our “Fresh Start.” Since our anniversary coincides with the New Years celebration our theme will be “Fresh Start.” Jenmi Jenmi will be sharing recipes, hints, tips, foods, exercises and advice on how to maintain our healthy “Fresh Start: All Year Long.”

Day 1, Monday, January 28th:  Tips that have helped you accomplish goals or resolutions.

Day 2, Tuesday, January 29th: Recipes or meals that have helped you get back on track with your healthy goals when you over-indulged in food and drink.

Day 3, Wednesday, January 30th: Meatless meals/recipes to increase our healthy goals and assure we get plenty of veggies.

Day 4, Thursday, January 31st: Favorite exercise plans, video, classes etc. that helped you achieve your fitness goals.

Day 5, Friday, February 1st: Freezer meal recipes, because we all know that planning ahead is the best way to eat healthy.

Check back through out the week and share in all the fun! 

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