*** Visit my weight loss blog: Escape from Obesity ***

Monday, September 7, 2009

Active and Free Joint Solution

If you've been reading my blog for long, you know that I suffer from severe degenerative arthritis, which has really impacted my ability to walk or do any other weight bearing activities or exercise. My knees are in terrible condition, and the orthopedic surgeon says I will need total knee replacements before too long. I have pain in my other joints as well, especially my hands. I hate that I am in pain daily from this, and it started so young... in my 30's. When I told the doctor that my Mom was walking with a cane by the time she was 55, he said, "at the rate you're going, you'll have her beat." Sad. They told me losing weight would help... and it has... but not completely. Some days I still limp. My knees hurt every single day.

I've been on a regimen of supplements that helped me a lot. I'd say it cut my pain down about 70%. But I was still hurting, so I was excited for the opportunity to try Active and Free Joint Solution, a relatively new supplement that promises "long-term, restorative relief rather than temporary, symptomatic relief" and claims it "provides nutrients your body requires for healing and rebuilding damaged joints." Sounds good to me. I figured it wouldn't cure or heal my severely damaged joints, but might provide some relief from the daily "grind," so to speak.

Before I take any supplement, I take a good long look at the ingredients. I don't want to ingest anything harmful. The website states: "Joint Solution includes 64 trace minerals (plant derived), hydrolyzed collagen type II, hyaluronic acid, boswellia serrata, chondroitin, glucosamine HCL (plant-derived), MSM (plant derived). All ingredients are completely natural and contain no shellfish." I looked up each ingredient before I decided that this was a safe supplement for me to take. I was especially glad it is shellfish-free, as I am allergic to shellfish and have had trouble in the past finding a shellfish-free glucosamine (one of the supplements I take).

When I started taking Joint Solution, I was amazed to feel a definite improvement within a matter of days. My pain was dramatically reduced in my knees. I was really surprised that this stuff worked so well! I kept taking it with success until I was struck with a bout of stomach flu. I'm sure if you read my blog you remember this: it was in the spring, and I was so sick that I could not even take fluids. So of course I was forced to stop taking the Joint Solution for a few days.

When I was well, I wondered if my joint pain would come back if I didn't start taking the Joint Solution again. I thought, "well, I feel fine now. Maybe the improvement was all in my head. Maybe that stuff wasn't really helping." But within a week, the pain in my knees and hands was back with a vengeance. It felt worse than before (I believe because I'd been taking other supplements before, and now was taking *nothing* for my joints). I went back on the Joint Solution, and in about 5 days, the pain was once again much better. I'd say that the pain and discomfort were about 90% gone.

So I like this stuff. I like it a lot. It really *did* help me with my pain levels, quite a bit, and more than my usual supplements. When I take nothing at all, my pain is crippling. So it is very important to me to find good supplements that allow me to be active and mobile.

When my free trial of Joint Solution ran out, I didn't purchase more simply because I already have a closet full of my other supplements to use up and my finances aren't great at the moment. My pain level did increase a bit because of this. The thing is, on my "old" supplements, the pain is worse on some days than others. Usually, it's 70 to 80 percent better than I am with NO supplements, but each day varies. On the Joint Solution, I had very consistent results with each day being about 90% better than a non-supplemented day. I'd like to go back on Joint Solution again. I think it would actually allow me to delay the knee surgery my doctor says I will need. And it took care of the pain in my hands, which my other supplements don't seem to control well.

As a comparison, the supplements I used before Joint Solution and am using up now are:

Source Naturals Vegetarian Glucosamine, 750 mg, 2x/day
Source Naturals Chondroitin Sulfate, 600 mg, 2x/day
Turmeric Force once a day, in the morning

I also occasionally use InflameAway Celadrin capsules, which I break open and squeeze the contents onto my knees and rub it in. I use this when I know I am going on a long walk or if I want to bike but my knees hurt. When I am very achy I also use Tart Cherry Concentrate which I buy at the local Farmer's Market. I put a Tablespoon of the stuff into my tea or smoothie and it really helps with the inflammation and soreness.

So that's a lot of supplements I use, and like I said, they help a lot. But I'd rather just take one supplement. Joint Solution would be the one.

On their website right now, they have an offer: buy 2 bottles, get one free (the link says "free bottle of Joint Solution"). They also have a 180-day money back guarantee. First time customers can buy one bottle for $29.95 with free shipping and handling, which seems pretty reasonable to me. Second and subsequent bottles are a bit higher with discounts for recurring orders. From my dealings with this company I have seen nothing but excellent customer service and that's why I feel I can recommend them.

If you'd like to win a bottle of Joint Solution to try for yourself, just leave a comment on this post telling me how you think this product would help you or someone you care about. Next Monday, September 14th, a winner will be chosen and a bottle will be shipped to you for free! I am excited to see if it helps you as much as it did me.

**Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or anything. Check with your doctor before beginning any new supplements.**

I wasn't paid to do this review. I got a free trial of the product, but if I thought it sucked I'd be the first to say so. But I liked it, a lot. I liked dealing with them, too. So if you have arthritis, check it out: Active and Free Joint Solution.

And please come back and let me know how you liked the product and the customer service.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Complete Beck Diet for Life

The amazing Dr. Judith Beck is at it again with a brand new weight-loss book: The Complete Beck Diet for Life: The Five-Stage Program for Permanent Weight Loss. I was sent a copy to read and give my honest review, and I was intrigued. Over the past several months, I have gotten many, many suggestions from readers for Beck's previous book, The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person. I even went out and bought it a few months back, and very much enjoyed the parts I read. But I never finished the book nor the program. Why? I'll get to that...

My first question when I got the new book was, "if she already wrote a 'Solution' with everything you need to lose weight, why a new book? What's this new book got that was missing from the other one?" I'll get to that too.

First let me say I really liked a lot of the info in the first book (Beck Diet Solution). I even decided to do the whole "program." The whole thing is based on Cognitive Therapy. Interestingly, a lot of the suggestions/steps in the Beck program are similar to the steps in my Habit-A-Week Challenge, which came partly from a nutrition class I took at a hospital 15+ years ago and partly from my own experience. Some of the steps in the Beck book include eating slowly, exercising, overcoming cravings, and writing down what you eat. All of the steps make sense and would be helpful to anyone who is trying to lose weight or be more mindful of their eating.

Where it went sour for me was all the list-making, card-making, and writing. Don't get me wrong, I did the work. I made the Advantages cards, the lists of reasons why I want to lose weight, and a ton of Response cards (index cards with answers to any sabotaging thoughts or situations that you might have). And I even did all the exercises where you take out your deck of cards and read them several times a day. That got old fast (for me). But since I only followed through for about a week and then gave up, I cannot say for sure how well this program works. I do know that there are lots of Beck followers and groups online, so if this program is for you, you'd be in good company. It IS a "cognitive" program so if you get this book, plan for a *lot* of thinking, answering questions, and writing things down. If you love having piles of notebooks and decks of index cards all neatly lined up at the ready for any "dieting" situation, you are going to LOVE this plan.

That said, even though my Response cards got buried in a laundry pile by day 8, I loved reading the book. I got lots of nice little insights even without doing all the "work." It was worth reading just for that.

When I got the second book... the new one... (Diet for Life)... I started reading with the idea I would go through it as if I had never read the other book. A fresh start for this one. But when it got to all the card-making, my eyes glazed over. It seemed like the new book has a lot of the old steps and information, a lot of the same card-making and thinking about responses to any given objection to dieting. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.

Let me give you a couple of examples of Response Cards in the book. One is for weighing yourself (which she recommends you do daily). On an index card, you are instructed to write, "My weight isn't who I am. It isn't a measure of my worth. It's just a number that tells me important information." Then you are instructed that every morning before you step on the scale, you read this card. Another example is for "giving yourself credit." On an index card, you write: "I really do deserve credit for breaking old habits, and it is essential for building my confidence. Once my confidence grows, everything will become so much easier." You read this daily to remind yourself that you deserve credit. (See how this is about changing your thinking?)

Not only do you end up with a big deck of cards, you get to make a Diet Notebook. Lists, notes, and thoughts galore. This, for me, could mean trouble because it seems slightly obsessive and I think I could get caught up in all the cards and stuff instead of getting off my butt and taking a walk or something.

There are also a lot of "experiments" in the book, designed to teach you good habits. They include doing things like piling double portionsof dinner on your plate, eating half, and throwing the rest away. You're not allowed to save it for later. It has to go into the trash. Also, there is an exercise where you eat dinner really fast to see how you feel about it later and when your stomach tells you you're full. The one that bothered me a little is where you eat breakfast and then don't eat anything else until dinner. You do this repeatedly until you can do it without feeling panicky. You carry around a "Discomfort Chart" to record how hungry you get. And you write about it in your "Diet Notebook" under the heading, "Hunger Experiment."

Okay, maybe these experiments will help a lot of people. That last one is to prove to yourself that "hunger isn't an emergency." (True, and a great concept to learn). But if I did that experiment, I would be flipping out bingeing on burgers, fries, and cheesecake by 2pm. I know myself, and when I go more than 4 hours without eating, I get some serious craziness going on. My brain and body go berserk and I eat like a starved maniac. So be careful, don't trigger yourself.

What's new in the new book? Well, for one thing, there seems to be more detailed instruction about the cards and such. There's instructions to make even MORE cards... Memory Cards, with memories of all the good things that happen as you lose weight (I don't remember seeing that in the old book). There is also a full-on eating plan in the new book. The old book tells you to "pick two reasonable diets" to try... they can be anything reasonable, like Weight Watchers or a Food Exchange program. But the new book has a whole strict eating plan (the "Think Thin" plan), complete with food lists and recipes. It's way more structured for people who like to be told EXACTLY what to eat. There's a guide on how many calories you should eat, and a whole detailed way to use calories for special occasions, a daily splurge, stuff like that. So frankly, if you want a "diet," this book will give you one, just like the title says it will. (Honestly, one of the things I disliked about this book is the constant reference to "dieting." It calls the reader a "dieter." It talks about "starting your diet." I really hate this. I am *not* a dieter... and I really dislike the whole "on a diet/off a diet" thing. I mean, I know that a "diet" is whatever you are eating, but this book uses it in the old-fashioned, restricted eating sense. I don't like that).

As for the meal plans, they're ok. I'd rather just eat more healthy stuff that I like. Same thing with the recipes... I think I could do better. (I admit I have not tried *any* of the recipes in the book, though). For example, one recipe in the book is for a "Mexican Breakfast Wrap." It's a whole wheat tortilla, filled with 1/4 c. shredded cheese, 1/2 c. romaine, and 2 T salsa, heated in the microwave. Well, earlier in the book they say to always choose low fat products so maybe they assume you'll use low fat cheese here but that isn't mentioned in the recipe. Also, why does this not have any eggs?? What better breakfast protein source than egg whites or Egg Beaters?? That would only add about 30 calories and a lot of protein. Even some beans would be a good protein source. Also, warmed romaine in a quesadilla for breakfast doesn't sound great to me... how about baby spinach? Or some mushrooms or something? Maybe I am just being picky, but I expect a new "diet" book to have interesting, *nutritious* recipes. Another recipe, for dinner, is "Spaghetti and Meatballs." It is whole grain pasta topped with turkey meatballs, tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese (that's the "recipe.") Why didn't they include veggies in this? I always eat a ton of sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, yellow squash, onions, and peppers under my pasta sauce instead of all pasta. Better nutrition and more filling. And then there's the Macaroni and Cheese recipe, which also includes no vegetables... just pasta and cheese sauce/cheese topped with bread crumbs... and one serving has 399 calories, 16g fat, and 9g saturated fat. A little steep, and I don't know about you but there is no way I would eat 1/6 of an 8 inch square baking dish of this and be happy. No way. I would scarf the entire pan and lick it clean.

What I do like is the advice and the insights. For all my complaining, it really is a great book! Lots of ideas for getting back on track or getting people to stop pushing food on you. Great basic principles and most of it I totally agree with! There's a section about Flexible Eating versus Loose Eating that I really like. I also *love* the concept of strengthening your resistance muscle and weakening your giving-in muscle. I *do* think this book is worth buying... if you don't already have the first book. I just don't think I would find enough benefit in having them both, unless I was looking for a complete "diet plan" with food lists. Then, maybe.

That said, if you have not read *either* Beck book, I'd say buy the second one because it is more comprehensive and seems to contain everything from the first book... and then some.

My suggestion to the Beck people: sell the book with a set of pre-made index cards. It gets really tedious copying down all those Response cards word-for-word out of the book, and if you want us to write something unique you can include a blank card with the basic concept on the other side. And please work on the recipes a bit.

If any of you have read the book(s) and tried the Beck Solution, I'd love to hear about your success or problems with the "diet." Please leave a comment if you like, and feel free to tell me what you like or dislike about the Beck program.

If you'd like to win a copy of The Complete Beck Diet for Life: The Five-Stage Program for Permanent Weight Loss, just leave a comment and a way for me to contact you (email or blog). This drawing is open to residents of USA *and Canada.* A winner will be announced on Tuesday, February 24. If you'd like to purchase a copy, it's available on Amazon. Good luck!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mary Lou's Weigh Platform

Remember Mary Lou Retton from the 80's? (Am I dating myself here?) She's that energetic girl who, in 1984, won an Olympic all Around Gold Medal in gymnastics (the first American woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics). If you ever wondered what happened to her, here she is! Would you like to invite her into your bedroom? Read on...

The Mary Lou's Weigh Platform is a unique type of scale for managing your weight. What makes it unique? Well, for one thing, it has no dial on it. Just a button you press with your toe to turn it on. So how do you know what you weigh? Here's the kicker: you don't! The scale (aka platform) never, ever tells you what you weigh. It's almost like having a best friend who weighs you blindfolded each week and is sworn to secrecy to NEVER reveal your weight. So although this is a voice scale (yes, it talks) it never will shout out, "You weigh 278 pounds!" and embarrass you to everyone within earshot. When you use this scale, you never, ever have to know what you weigh. It won't tell you, even if you threaten it or take it apart or jump on it. Very trustworthy little device.

What the platform does tell you is the *change* in your weight since the last time you stepped on it. So after the initial stepping-on, each time you get on it, it says, "You are 2 pounds below your starting weight" or "You are 1 pound above your starting weight." And do you know who tells you this vital information? It's Mary Lou Retton!! She is trapped inside the little scale and every time you step on her, she yelps out not only your weight change but also a piece of dieting advice! (Okay, she is not really in the scale, but it IS her voice you'll hear. How'd they do that??) Yes, every morning you can have Mary Lou's perky voice cheering you on to not give up. It's kinda nice to have a built-in cheerleader... an Olympic champion, no less. And the scale goes in ten pound increments. Once you've lost ten pounds, it cheers, applauds, and resets for the next ten. So you work towards small, achievable goals of ten pound chunks rather than focusing on 50 or 60 or whatever pounds you have to lose.

What I like about the scale: It's great for people who are scale obsessed and number obsessed because you never get discouraged by seeing your sheer poundage on the dial. It keeps track of your losses and gains for you, so you don't have to remember what you weighed last time. It's cheery and perky. It can weigh and remember 2 different people depending on which side of the button you press, so you and chubby hubby can both get in on the action. The weight loss tips are nice. It has a weight limit of 330 pounds. And it's pretty low cost, under $50 at the time this was written.

What I dislike about the scale: You might want to know what you actually weigh... but this can be solved by going to the doctor once in awhile or weighing on a friend's scale occasionally. It's cheery and perky (which isn't always what I want first thing in the morning). And it's LOUD. It does have a volume switch, but even set to low, it's loud enough for people in my living room to hear the muffled cries of "you are 3 pounds above your starting weight" from the bedroom. If you have a sleeping spouse, baby, or child in the near vicinity of this scale, you might have to delay your morning weigh-ins. And I found myself skipping the weigh-in on occasion just because I didn't want my older kids or husband hearing it. I'm kinda self conscious that way. But if you live alone, have an isolated room to keep it in, or just don't care who hears, this won't bother you.

As I said, Mary Lou is *really* perky. The instruction booklet acknowledges this and warns that no, the scale is not bulletproof and will not work anymore if you shoot it. Mary Lou is cheery and encouraging, like having a buddy patting you on the back saying "it's okay, keep trying" as you sob with your face in your hands over gaining 5 pounds. You know what I'd like to see? A Jillian Michaels platform. You'd get on it and it would shout things like, "Holy *&%% what have you been eating?? HIT THE FLOOR AND GIVE ME 300 SITUPS!! NOW!!" or "Great, you lost a pound, now get on the treadmill and run 6 miles so you can lose two more!" or even "YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT THIS WEEK IF I HAVE TO RIP OFF YOUR ARM AND BEAT YOU WITH IT!" Yeah. No cutesy peppiness there.

The Mary Lou's Weigh website has some free helpful tools such as recipes and exercise tips, as well as weight loss success stories. There's also an interesting Ask the Experts section to peruse. And you can purchase a Platform here.

Want to try one for yourself for free? You have a chance to win your very own Platform by leaving a comment on this review telling me what you think you'd like or dislike about this product. Be sure and leave me a way to contact you if you are the winner (blog or email address). Open to residents of the USA only (sorry folks!) A random winner will be chosen on February 5th. Good luck!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

GelPro Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat

Just a few days before Thanksgiving, I received something really cool in the mail: a GelPro Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat. Yes, I was really excited. If you have ever had knee problems (or hip problems, back problems, or foot problems), you'll understand why. And if you're obese, odds are you've had some kind of pain in one of these areas. If not, you just wait.

For me, the main source of discomfort has been my knees. I have severe degenerative arthritis and some other knee problems that cause me a lot of pain, especially if I stand for long periods of time (or even short periods. It depends on the day). So, Thanksgiving for me has been a mixed bag. I love cooking, but standing in the kitchen all day by the sink and stove has *always* landed me in trouble. I end up limping around for the rest of the evening and the next day, popping pain medication and feeling 90 years old. This has happened every single year since I got fat. Over a decade. So when the GelPro mat came in time for Thanksgiving, I was thrilled! I could give it a REAL test: cook Thanksgiving dinner on it, standing all day, and see if it lessens my pain at all.

The GelPro mat has a patented, shock-absorbing gel core. The site explains: "Everyone can benefit from the comfort provided by a GelPro mat. There are, however, millions of individuals that are especially susceptible to hard, unforgiving flooring. Chief among them − young and old alike − are those with painful arthritis, lower back pain, foot pain, plantar fasciitis, and diabetes. These conditions, along with foot pain, plantar fasciitis, and diabetes are all exacerbated by standing on hard flooring. GelPro mats have unique and unsurpassed ergonomic properties to help counter these irritating and disabling pains."

The site goes on to explain that the mat helps prevent muscle spasms and tension by promoting blood flow. It also works by lowering the impact forces to the body and joints. You can read on the site about a scientific study which concluded that anti-fatigue mats reduced discomfort and fatigue by as much as 50% when standing on concrete floors for several hours.

So how did it work?? Well, I put it on the floor between my kitchen sink and stove, so I could stand on it while cooking AND washing dishes. I stepped onto its cushy goodness and my bare feet just relaxed right into the mat. It seriously feels SO GOOD. I would carpet my house in this stuff if I could. Anyway, I was standing a LOT, as I do every Thanksgiving while I make a million different dishes. And at the end of the day, I noticed I had no pain at all. Now, let me say I *always* have knee discomfort. They ache even if I sit all day long. But like I said, I used to be limping and/or immobile after a day of cooking. So this was a HUGE improvement to me. I felt like I hadn't even been standing all day. No limping, no pain. Seriously impressive. I love this thing. And no, I'm not getting paid for this review so if it sucked, I'd be sure and let you know. This mat has really helped me with being able to stand and cook or wash dishes without being sore later.

The mat comes in two sizes: 20" x 36" and 20" by 72". It comes in a ton of colors, textures, and patterns to match any decor, and it comes with a one year warranty.

Now for the best part: You can win a beautiful 20" by 36" GelPro mat in the Basketweave pattern for YOUR kitchen, for free, right here! In order to win, you need to leave a comment stating two things: 1) Why would you like to have a GelPro mat? (do you have knee pain? plantar fasciitis? sore legs? just think it's cute? want to give it to grandma?); and 2) your color preference if you win. Go here: GelPro Basketweave Color Choices and decide which of the six colors you like best. This contest is open to residents of the USA *and CANADA* and your mat will be shipped to you free of charge if you win. You must leave me a way to contact you if you are the winner. Good luck! I *know* you will totally love this mat! A winner will be chosen on January 25th.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The EatSmart Nutrition Scale

How would you like to win one of these fancy schmancy digital food scales?? Read on...

A couple of months ago I received an EatSmart Digital Nutrition Scale in the mail. The EatSmart company sent me this complimentary scale to try out so I could write an unbiased review for my readers. It's been really fun messing with this high-tech gadget, and thankfully it's really easy to use once you know which buttons to press.

I've used a kitchen scale before. It was a cheap plastic dial thing that cost about $5 at WalMart. I never used it much, because by the time I got a plate to balance on the itty bitty top of the scale, then manually dialed it back to zero for a tare, then tried to balance my food on the plate (usually tipping it over in the process), I was too annoyed to actually take the time to READ the scale, then go look up the calorie value for my food, get out a calculator, and figure out how many calories was in that amount of food. I went back to measuring cups, and basically eyeballing things like meat and cheese.

But this thing, wow. This scale is just a joy to use. It's big and flat and has a 6 pound weight capacity (so you could measure Fido on here if he is a teacup poodle and sits still long enough, although I don't think that would be very sanitary and makes me wonder WHY you would want to know how many calories are in your dog). It's digital. It has a database of 999 foods already programmed in... foods that don't usually have nutrition labels, like various cuts of meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy, and grains. You stick your food on the scale, enter the 3 digit code (from the accompanying booklet) for that food, and presto! The scale tells you how many calories are in the exact amount of food that you placed on the scale. And handily, it also tells you the food's content of 11 other values: carbs, fiber, sodium, potassium, magnesium, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, calcium, protein, and vitamin K. When you press the MODE button, you can examine the nutrition content of any other foods that have a Nutrition Facts label on them. Pour some cereal into a bowl on the scale, enter info from the label for serving size and whatever other nutrient you want examined, and the scale tells you the nutrient content of your bowl of cereal. Nice!

I have to say, this is the coolest kitchen scale I have ever tried. It has this memory feature that you can use to build a meal or a snack. You can put your dinner plate on the scale, then add your meat (press memory), your vegetable (press memory), your starch (press memory) and then at the end, the memory recall will tell you the nutritional value total of the meal on your plate. Really cool. When I talked to the company representative on the phone, he told me some people use this to build 100-calorie-packs for themselves with various different foods.

This scale is more than a scale. It's an educational tool to learn about what you're putting in your body. Every time you put a food on the scale, you not only get the weight and calories (without running to look up calories in a book, or using a calculator to figure out the total), but you also get all the other nutritional information. If you're watching your sodium, the scale will help you with that. Cholesterol? That too. Carb counting? Got it covered.

I don't want to sound like an infomercial, but I think this is a great tool for people who are trying to learn about nutrition or lose weight. This scale is a "professional" food scale that is used by the Center for Medical Weight Loss and their clients, as well as nutritionists and clients at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. You can purchase this scale at amazon.com, where you can also read almost 100 very positive reviews.

If you need a good kitchen scale but don't have $69.95 to spend at the moment, the EatSmart company also makes a very simple, but accurate kitchen scale (the Precision Pro) for $19.95. All it does is weigh your food, though. No fancy tricks from this one.

Want to win a free EatSmart fancy schmancy Nutrition Scale?? Go to the EatSmart website and watch the 8-minute demonstration video. Then leave me a comment telling me what you think of the video or what you like/dislike about the scale. Winner will be chosen randomly and will receive a lovely free EatSmart Nutrition Scale in the mail. (USA residents only this time, sorry folks!) I'll announce the winner on January 15th. Good luck!

Diet Direct Coupon Code 2013