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From the Publisher
Media Appearances: Print: Jeyme Colodne over at Best Self Atlanta Magazine included "Social Network Diet" in the magazine's "100 Fabulous Finds" piece.
The magazine provides information that helps readers live their best lives by focusing on health, beauty and life enrichment, with an emphasis on wellness, fitness, weight loss and nutrition.
Top 100 Fabulous Finds
Best Self Atlanta Magazine
Revive Your New Year's Resolutions Seek support. It s tough to make lasting change on your own, so surround yourself with people who encourage your efforts. A study of people who completed a weight loss program found that 66 percent of those who teamed up with friends had kept the weight off six months later; the figure fell to 24 percent for those who went it alone.
-Parade Magazine - 2/19/12
"The more you move around, the greater the health benefits," which include a lower blood pressure, easier weight control, and less stress, says Miriam Nelson, PhD, director of the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Prevention, and associate professor of nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Nelson is also co-author of The Social Network Diet, Change Yourself, Change the World.
Working out at a moderate pace for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week, as prescribed in the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG) that Nelson helped to create, may not offer enough protection against obesity and other chronic illness.
-- 2/20/12 ¬ USA Today Warning: Sitting is hazardous to your health
For decades we've been told that our creeping overweight and lack of physical activity is our fault -- that we lack self-discipline, that we're lazy, that we're self-indulgent. With such an accusatory finger pointed at us, it's no wonder we despair. But is our overweight and unhealthy lifestyle really our own fault? Do we simply lack willpower? Are we just lazy overeaters?
As a researcher in this field, my answer is, "I don't think so." I believe that our physical and social environment is the key to a healthy body weight. In my 10th and newest book, The Social Network Diet: Change Yourself, Change the World, I outline this concept.
Take Martha. At the age of 51, Martha's weight had ballooned to a high of 210 pounds. She was living in Atlanta at the time, a city with serious obstacles to healthy living -- among them, roads made for driving, not walking, and a tradition of heavy southern cooking. Many of Martha's Atlanta friends were also overweight. "I had pretty much given up on exercising," she told me. Then, in 2009, Martha moved to Denver. There she found an environment more conducive to physical activity and good nutrition, as well as a network of friends with an active, healthy lifestyle. A little over a year later, she had lost 53 pounds, was walking regularly with her new friends, joining a neighbor for spinning classes at the local recreation center, and eating better than she ever had.
As Martha's story suggests, our food intake and physical activity are not matters of simple willpower. New research backs this up. Study after study suggests that the crisis we're facing as individuals and as a nation is only minimally caused by our own poor choices -- it is primarily a reflection of our surroundings, both our social and our physical environments.
In other words, it's not you; it's the company you keep and your surroundings.
-- 2/21/12 Huffington Post A Little Help From Your
6 Tips to Lose Weight for Life From 'The Social Network Diet'
Don't diet alone! Instead, slim down with support from your social network and these tips from the new book 'The Social Network Diet.'
By Annie Hauser, Senior Editor
"Being fat isn't your fault; staying fat is." That’s the famous mantra of celebrity trainer Jackie Warner, and it’s a great way to explain the message behind the new book,The Social Network Diet. And though Warner’s tough-love approach is not exactly the tone The Social Network Diet authors Miriam Nelson, PhD, and Jennifer Ackerman take, the message is basically the same. The reason why so many people are overweight, the authors say, is not because they’re lazy or unmotivated, but because their environments —social, familial, economic — make them fat and keep them that way.
If your spouse has ever bought you ice cream to “reward” you after a week of hard workouts, if your friends and family have ever pressured you to eat or drink more, or if your job or commute is just too time-consuming to allow time for fitness, The Social Network Diet is for you. Throughout the tome, Nelson brings her expert, evidence-based counsel on how to create — and stick to— a weight-loss lifestyle.
“We feel strongly that it’s hard for women to keep weight off once they’ve lost it,” Nelson explains. “And the reason is simple: Once you’ve lost the weight, if you return to the identical social and physical environment, it will come back. Our message is all about how to change that environment to not only help women stick to their diets, but also to inspire changes in others.”
If you’re ready to make a real difference in your life, read on for a few of Nelson’s top tips for long-term weight loss.
- Know the facts. To take the first step toward weight loss, examine what it is about your life that caused you to gain weight in the first place. For example, in the book, Nelson cites the experiences of a woman living in Atlanta who only had access to roads made for driving, not walking, and was raised in the tradition of unhealthy Southern cooking.
Next, analyze the support you get from your friends, spouse, and job. Is healthy eating important to your spouse? What about fitness? Do you have access to fitness facilities near work? Once you understand the limitations of your lifestyle, you’ll be ready to make some changes for the better.
- Understand what "healthy" means. To know what you need to fix, you first have to get a handle of what it means to have a healthy lifestyle. Nelson recommends consulting the USDA’s dietary guidelines as a basis for your new, balanced diet. She also breaks down the lengthy government recommendations into four basic principles: Eat less, eat more plant-based foods, reduce your intake of added sugars, unhealthy fats, sodium, and refined grains, and increase your amount of physical activity.
- Start small. To stick with your diet long-term, begin with bite-sized goals. The book suggests one-day challenges, for example, 30 minutes of physical activity in one day, one day without refined sugars, etc., as effective steps toward healthier living. Nelson also provides a simple, seven-day eating plan to jumpstart weight loss.
- Surround yourself with support. This is where your social network kicks in. “Find a network with the same values and goals as you,” Nelson advises. “For example, I know one woman who lost 100 pounds and was interested in running and triathlons, so she joined a running group to keep her on track.” If you’re not ready to train for a triathlon, do whatever works for you. For example, form a supportive walking group with coworkers or neighbors and lean on one another for the motivation to keep at it.
At home, it’s essential to create an active home environment. If you have the space, store workout equipment in front of your TV, so you’ll be more likely to fit in a few exercises while you watch your favorite shows. If you live with other people, work to develop a few healthy dinner staples you all like that you can whip up at any time.
- Go online for support. When we think “social network,” most people probably immediately imagine Facebook, Twitter, or an online community site, such as the tools and support available on EverydayHealth.com. Although most of Nelson’s research centers on face-to-face support networks, she says online resources can make a huge difference in women’s weight-loss efforts. If you find your in-person social networks to be less than supportive, online friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites can help keep you on track.
- Create a ripple effect. One of the most inspiring things you can do, Nelson finds, is use your healthy efforts to help others. Whether your new-found love of veggies inspires you to help out in a community garden or your walking group inspires a friend to train for a 5K, seeing others succeed with their health will only boost your efforts.
The Social Network Diet: Change Yourself, Change the World, is a new book by New York Times Best-Selling authors Dr. Miriam Nelson and Jennifer Ackerman. In the book, they highlight the different ways you can change your diet and exercise patterns by changing your social networks, or the people and environments with whom you surround yourself.
Author Miriam Nelson points out at the beginning of the book that when most people think Social Network they think of Internet social networks, such as Facebook, MySpace or even LinkedIn, but these are not the kinds of social networks of which she speaks. She clarifies that in her book, social network means the people who surround is in our everyday lives and the environment that either works toward or against your will to exercise.
Throughout the book, the authors tell stories of various people they’ve included in their scientific studies to show real-life examples of how a person’s environment affects his or her ability to be healthy. Martha Peterson is one of the first examples given. She is written about in the introduction. At her heaviest, she was 210 pounds. At the time, she was 51 and living in Atlanta, GA. She said that not only were her other Southern friends heavier, making her feel like she had some wiggle room in her diet, but the city itself had obstacles to healthy living. First and foremost the roads, which were made primarily for driving, and were not friendly to bikers or walkers.
In 2009, Martha moved to Denver, CO. In Denver, she found a city designed with a healthier lifestyle in mind and friends who lived a healthier lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating healthfully.
One of the tools Nelson has used throughout her speaking engagements over the years is a series of maps, showing how the nation has grown fatter and fatter over the last few decades. She said people are always shocked to see the maps from several decades ago show blue – the sign for low obesity –and then transform to dark red or bright orange – the sign for high rates of obesity – in the early part of the millennium and on to now.
After one of her last speaking engagements, Nelson said her husband asked her what she was trying to accomplish. Was she having a positive effect on anyone? Thus, the impetus for the book.
One of the first tools the authors give to those attempting to change their lifestyle is the 7-day jumpstart, which involves focusing totally on eating healthy and incorporating exercise.
During the first day, the authors say to focus on what you eat. Eat only whole vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains and protein-rich foods, and eat at least three servings of each. Eat as many as you want. There is no limit. And for the entirety of the week, avoid added sugars and refined grains.
The authors add that if you put the sugar bowl back on the table and add your own sugar to unsweetened foods and drinks, you’ll never add as much as the food manufacturers add themselves.
More eating tips from the authors include eating foods from the earth, eating for fuel instead of eating for fun and making time for meals. If meals are rushed, you will go for the quickest thing possible, which is never the healthiest.
As far as physical activity, the authors set out guidelines that let you start small and work toward a bigger goal. Tips include walking or biking instead of driving whenever possible, breaking a sweat at least three times a week, find active fun, so that all of your exercise is not regimented or boring. In addition, they say, create your own personal activity philosophy. Figure out what times are the best for you to be active and find activities that are fun for you and that you can participate in with your friends and family.
A big part of the Social Network Diet is changing your surroundings. The authors say to start in your kitchen. Remove the bad food from your kitchen and don’t bring any bad food back in. Instead, bring back whole grains, whole fruits and whole vegetables. Identify which shops in your area sell the healthiest foods and begin shopping there. When you are at the supermarket, limit your shopping to the outside aisles, with the fresher food, and stay away from the middle aisles with added sugar and preservatives. In your home, put healthy foods in sight. Instead of putting a plate of cookies out on the table, put cut-up fresh fruit in the front of the refrigerator. When you prepare a meal at home, make smaller portions and serve them out for your family.
The biggest change you can make for your family in regard to food, say the authors, is to have everyone sit down for a family meal at night as many times a week as possible. Multiple studies the authors site show that families who eat meals together continue to have better eating habits throughout their lives.
When thinking about changing your environment in regard to your physical activity, the book says to start in the home, just like with your eating habits. Manage the screen time of your entire family. Many studies show that family members will be more active if the television and video game time is limited within the home. If your children don’t have a TV to sit in front of, they will seek something out to do, and most of the time, that will be some sort of physical activity. The same goes for you. I