Loose weight with Arlene Normand

November 30, 2014


Filed under: Questions — Arlene @ 5:58 am


What can I do about my reduced weight loss? I am 49 years old and over 100 kg and are being told by personal trainers – there have been 3…. that I need to reduce my exercise as I am not losing weight.

I am on a weight management programme, including curves training 3-4 times a week and I walk on average 10,000 steps per day.

When I am on 1200 calories I lose the weight but once I increase calories to 1500 my weight continues to rise. Your thoughts!


Losing weight and getting into good habits is hard work. You are doing extremely well. Unfortunately when your weight is very high you tend to move slower and fidget less. Often there has been a history of  yoyo dieting which affects your metabolic rate. It is called the Thrifty Gene Syndrome. Your body is so accustomed to starving that when you give it more to eat it stores the food – this was a survival mechanism when food was not so readily available.


You have been very logical in finding the calorie count your body works best at – so you should maintain your exercise routine and keep your food intake to 1200 calories. This works for you so why try and change it. Keep your portions small and take your mind off food by getting involved in other activities.


If you need to be monitored you should consult an Accredited practising dietitian who would also individualise your diet to suit your lifestyle.



What is the difference between the different olive oils? – virgin, extra virgin, and light olive oil.


Extra virgin olive oil is the king of oils. It is the first pressing of the olives and delivers the best flavour, the most antioxidants, along with inferior flavour and slightly higher acidity.

Pure olive oil is a more refined oil. After the first pressing, manufacturers use heat, additives and chemicals to extract the last drops. But refining the oil destroys most of its antioxidants.

Light olive oil is light only in colour and aroma thanks to its high level of refined oil. Remember: This oil isn’t low in fat or light in kilojoules compared with regular oils.



When I feel hunger pangs, does this mean that I have burned off all the calories from the last meal? Should I wait until my stomach grumbles before I eat again?


Hunger pangs are like the light on your car’s fuel gauge. When that light comes on, it doesn’t mean you have burned up all your fuel, it just means you are going to need to find some soon. That light headed feeling and those grumbling noises are signals from your brain, lever, kidneys, stomach and other organs that together control your physiological drive to eat. For most people, the signal to refuel comes every three to four hours. At this point, even the thought of food can get the stomach revved up for digestion by stimulating acid release – hence the gurgling. Pay attention to these signals, so that you eat because you are genuinely hungry. However, don’t wait so long that you become weak or cranky or that your stomach sounds like a bubbling cauldron.



I have gained 5 kg in the two years since I started taking birth control pills. I exercise, but it seems like my appetite has skyrocketed. Is the pill to blame, or is that a myth?


Although weight gain is a complaint among some women taking the pill, studies have not shown a link. You might find a study that shows a ½ kilo weight gain, but the literature as a whole does not indicate that the pill causes a significant increase in weight or body fat. Nor is there any evidence that the pill stimulates appetite. However, individual responses to medications are different and some women do note weight gain. It could be true for you, and it is a discussion to have with your clinician. Different formulations of the pill are available, and your doctor may recommend trying a different one. Keep in mind that Australian/American women – whether they are on the pill or not – tend to gain about a ½ kilo a year.



I eat a protein bat most afternoons as they keep me full until dinner time, but I am worried that I might be over-eating them. Is it possible to eat too much protein and is eating it in this form unhealthy?


While the Recommended daily Intake (RDI) for protein is 46g for women and 55g for men, most Australian and American diets contain much more- approximately 90% exceed this amount. It is possible to have too much protein, but the amount you are getting from your protein bar is not harmful. The source of protein is not unhealthy however I would suggest swapping it for healthier high protein snacks, such as low fat yoghurt, high protein breakfast cereals and milk, low fat cheese and crackers, flavoured skim milk or a small hanful of unsalted nuts. This will also help increase the variety in your diet.





I am not a fan of drinking water and drink two litres of soda water each day instead. I was recently told the gas in the soda water (or other soft drinks) causes bloating and other unhealthy side effects. Is this true?


Soda water is plain water with carbon dioxide gas dissolved in it, which is why it is called ‘carbonated’.  A small amount of the gas may combine with the water to form a very weak acid. This acid could cause tooth decay if you are drinking two litres every day. As with sugary fizzy drinks, dentists recommend you use a straw and drink most of the water with meals. As for bloating it is a very individual reaction – and some people will fee bloated after drinking large amounts of fizzy drinks. If you are feeling bloated, try switching to still water for a few days and see if you notice the difference.








Filed under: Messages — Arlene @ 5:55 am


I am not concerned that you have fallen – I am concerned that you arise – Abraham Lincoln

 Countless books exist about how to succeed.  But the secret to success seems to come to one single point:  The successful person gets up one more time than he falls down.  If you have had a bad day, don’t give up.  Concentrate on identifying and changing the root causes that compelled you to err.

 You might also try scheduling break days into your weight loss program and lifestyle – days when you allow yourself to eat larger portions or to eat foods that are normally not on your plan.  Develop a “Plan B” for getting back on course when you have a bad day.


Lapses are inevitable .. but recovery is always possible!


Have a great month and do as much exercise as you can fit into your schedule!



Filed under: Diet Menu — Arlene @ 5:53 am



 Day 1

Breakfast:                    1 scrambled  egg ,1 slice toast, grilled tomato, mushrooms, spinach

Morning Tea:               1 small mango

Lunch:                         Cheese and salad sandwich

Afternoon Tea:            1 corn on the cob (in microwave for 4 minutes)

Dinner:                        150g grilled fish with veges (2cups)

Supper:                        1 scoop ice cream / 1 cup blueberries

Day 2

Breakfast:                    2 weetbix / 2/3 cup wholegrain cereal

Morning Tea:               3 prunes

Lunch:                         turkey and salad wrap

Afternoon Tea:            2 apricots

Dinner:                        120g Roast chicken breast and salad

Supper:                        Jarrah hot chocolate/ 125g tinned fruit

Day 3

Breakfast:                    1 toast, drizzle honey, sliced banana

Morning Tea:               200g low fat yoghurt

Lunch:                         Sandwich on two slices with chicken, mustard and salad

Afternoon Tea:            1 nectarine

Dinner:                        100g Grilled steak and salad

Supper:                        Jarrah/Swiss Miss/Cadbury Lite hot/sliced orange

Day 4

Breakfast:                    100g corn on toast

Morning Tea:               mandarin

Lunch:                         Plate soup (vegetable/minestrone/tomato)-2 cups

Afternoon Tea:            100g fruche

Dinner:                        ½ cup chicken casserole with 1 cup cooked rice and salad

Supper:                        15 grapes

Day 5

Breakfast:                    2/3 cup cereal

Morning Tea:               2 kiwi fruit

Lunch:                         miso soup, 2 sushi rolls

Afternoon Tea:            1 peach

Dinner:                        150g Grilled fish and veges

Supper:                        low joule jelly/ 1 mango

Day 6

Breakfast:                    1 slice raisin toast with ricotta

Morning Tea:               100g fruche-lite / 200g yoghurt/1 orange

Lunch:                         Chicken burger

Afternoon Tea:            1 banana

Dinner:                        120g roast beef and veges/salad

Supper:                        mandarin

Day 7

Breakfast:                    1 cup cereal

Morning Tea:               1 cup berries

Lunch:                         Baked potato with 30g grated cheese and salad

Afternoon Tea:            1 peach

Dinner:                        Stir fry veges with 100g tofu/120g chicken/100g beef

Supper:                        jarrah hot chocolate/swiss miss/ lite ovaltine and low joule jelly


Daily:  2 cups low fat milk; 2 teaspoons fat


Stratgies for Summertime Wellness

Filed under: Article — Arlene @ 5:47 am

Summer is Here! Time to Learn What Really Works with Weight Loss


Sometimes it’s difficult for non-scientists to sift through the abundant research on obesity, health, and wellness. It’s equally difficult for some researchers to try to distill these complex studies and findings into a format that will both inform and educate the general public. I am excited to have a chance to discuss weight loss in a straightforward way – no dry data or journal articles.

Should we use special occasions as motivators?

There’s a good reason why people use special events, such as a family reunion or wedding as motivators, they work in the short-term but too often people do unhealthy things, such as crash dieting, pills, or detoxes to achieve their goal which can be dangerous. In addition, once the event is over, they often go right back to overeating and other unhealthy habits and regain the weight.

It is about a lifestyle change not using milestones as motivators. Use those things in a way that is sensible and well thought-out using good nutrition, healthy physical activity and most of all make sure you have a plan for your health the day after the event.

It is hard to motivate yourself. For many people, the best way to stay on track is to have an event to aim toward. You can compare it to how an athlete spends months or even years training. This usually involves a series of athletic events with ‘off-season’ training in between competitions. Why shouldn’t the average person use periodic events to boost their motivation as part of an ongoing healthy lifestyle plan in the same way athletes do? But try and sustain these changes.

Is it better to set one large goal or smaller ones along the way?

You don’t get there if you just set the target as the final long-term goal. It is important to set daily, weekly and monthly goals as part of a complete plan, with one goal building on the next to achieve the larger, long-term goal.

Consider walking goals: Start walking a certain distance in 30 minutes. Initially each week walk the same distance, but with a goal of walking 15 seconds faster every few days. Once you get comfortable with that, add more distance.

I encourage people each week to improve either the intensity or alternate that with walking a bit farther. I keep pushing people week by week to achieve those immediate goals that eventually lead to their longer-term target.

And it works.

When it comes to goal-setting, I believe in “celebrating them all large or small.” Baby steps add up to giant leaps in health!

What goals should people set?

People are bombarded with bad messages. They want to lose 5 kg a week or exercise till they collapse like they see in popular TV programs. While I do think that it’s important to focus on ambitious goals, it is best to realize that you cannot reach those goals overnight.

Reputable weight loss programs spend a lot of time encouraging participants to set reasonable goals. For example, if you are unable to do one pushup, setting a goal of doing 100 might be seen as unreasonable, going too far can discourage your ‘dream goals’.

Plenty of people do reach those long-term “dream goals”, so who am I to tell them they can’t”. They might start their weight-loss journey and say “within the next 2 years, I’m going to run a marathon and lose 20 kg.” And they do!

Instead of “demotivating them in the moment by discouraging” that long-term plan, I often say: “OK – but what are we going to do this week?”

Those small goals fill the gaps between now and the brass ring that awaits.

What about the scale?

People do focus on weight. At times I have tried to move people completely away from focusing on the scale, but that’s not necessary or helpful.

It is an important indicator and a valuable health goal; it’s just not the only one. Weight loss is an important goal, but so are the choices in foods you are making, and the physical activity you are getting, your blood pressure, blood sugar and overall quality of life.

“Weighing in” is a controversial subject among people who struggle with weight. Some still focus on the perhaps outdated notion that weighing more than once a week is harmful. The research actually supports that people who weigh frequently, even each day, have better success over the long term.  You are the best judge of what works for you.

The reason that it’s so controversial is that people beat themselves up about the number on the scale.  However, most people use the number on the scale constructively – to adjust eating and exercise patterns.

I recommend pulling out a piece of graph paper or using an online program and creating a longer-term view on paper. This way you will learn to stop reacting to the daily fluctuations, and instead pay attention to the overall trends. It’s OK to notice the fluctuations but don’t see each one as a success or failure. Just look at how the line trends over the course of each month.  You might find that you lose weight during the week and then gain over the weekend – you can then adjust you weekend intake to prevent the kilos creeping on!

If people are willing each morning to stand on the scale and put the dot on the graph, they might be a little more likely to make a healthy choice for breakfast or take a walk.

In other words, once again, small steps add up.

There is a side that we never talk about, but when people have a really good number on the scale, it’s sometimes seen as permission to go off the plan. Attending to long-term trends on the graph eliminates this, too.

Weighing every week or two weeks and not knowing what number will appear is like playing Wheel of Fortune. Will it land on jackpot—a weight loss–or bankrupt—a weight gain?

Weighing daily and graphing it keeps you aware of the long-term impact your overall lifestyle has on your longer-term goals and keeps you from going off the program. Morning is the logical time to do it, but weigh-ins can happen any time of day, as long as it’s the same time each day.

Even if you stick with healthy eating and exercise, daily numbers will rise and fall. Daily weighing proves that those fluctuations are normal, and by allowing a healthy weight range–say, a kilo up or down–it allows you to relax as long as it’s within your typical ranges and the overall trend is downward.

If it is not trending down, then maybe it’s time to start monitoring and measuring and tightening up your plan a little – be aware of portions and picking and snacking on all the little extras.


On facing reality:

If your  goals are clearly unattainable, such as reaching the weight you were at 16 – you need to choose a different goal. One helpful question: “What was the last weight you remember where you felt good about yourself? “ If you say ‘I was 10 kg lighter last year,’ that’s where I start you.

On diets:

The bottom line is that if you don’t learn the complete skill set required to maintain a healthy life overall, (maintaining a support network, stress management, active lifestyle, realistic goals setting etc) you will regain weight.

Most diets work, just not for the long term. The nutrition plan must be realistic in the context of your lifestyle.

If there’s anything with the word detox in it, run!

Advice for “dieting veterans”:

You aren’t gaining weight because you don’t understand the things you need to do to be healthier. You are gaining weight because you don’t do them. There are barriers in your life that need solving.

The changes that work are not complicated: reduce portions, eat more vegetables and salads, moderate total fat, reduce unhealthy fats, eat healthier versions of protein and carbohydrate. Much of the rest is a lot of noise that complicates and overwhelms you.

Moving a little more is going to give you a lot of progress. There’s too much focus in the popular media on regimented, painful exercise and less about simply moving more in a variety of fun and exciting ways.

One key piece of advice on weight loss:

It shouldn’t take up your whole life. Imagine if you had another medical condition – you do the treatment and go home, you take the medicines if needed and you avoid things that might aggravate the condition but you don’t necessarily make your whole life revolve around it…in fact just the opposite–you live life to its fullest without letting your condition take over your life.


Part of the tactic is to teach you to broaden you interests. I am a big advocate of “active leisure.”  Healthy lifestyles stick when you weave weight loss into you life rather than weaving you life around weight loss. “I would love people to only talk about their weight loss efforts for less than 30 minutes a day.” The rest of the time, simply live a healthy life.



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