Veggie Tales

I will admit this publicly. Maybe I shouldn’t.  You might be shocked.

But I’m semi-horrified when someone tells me they don’t eat veggies or don’t like them.

I’m like… “What did your mother DO to you??”

Oh, I get it. As parents we do try. I had one son who never really got into the veggie thing even though I fed him assortments of veggies as an infant (even then he wasn’t crazy over them) he has select ones he eats now, but at least he eats them.

As my kids grew up I made sure to present them with all varieties of food. I wanted them to at least try it before pronouncing they didn’t like it. I wasn’t a member of the “clean your plate” club like I grew up in but they did need to sample it.

My Mom used to delight in telling a story how I wanted scrambled eggs for breakfast but then changed my mind and didn’t want to eat them. When I stubbornly refused ( ah I was a bit head strong even then 😉 ) she evidently kept them around….

All. day. long.

They made an appearance at lunch… to which I refused to eat them… they were again brought out later.

Isn’t that child abuse or something ?! I had to take her word for it as I guess the trauma of having to see eggs that were becoming older and older by the moment was somehow blocked from my mind.

It’s a miracle I still eat eggs.

Needless to say, I didn’t grow up being allowed to be a picky eater and I was offered a wide variety of foods. It’s pretty much how my kids have been raised.

So when I’m confronted with the revelation someone doesn’t eat them ( more common than you may know)  I’m honestly floored.

Upon deeper probing sometimes that person reveals that the only veggies they may have known come from a can or they would be so steamed/overcooked by mom they turned into mush.

ok… well maybe then I’d be down on veggies too.  I’ve been in numerous buffet or banquet lines where the veggies in the pan were loose memories of what they used to be.

But beautiful, colorful, fresh produce?

Crisp green veggies perfectly steamed or better yet, roasted? There is no comparison in how delicious they are.

Roasting veggies has to be by far, my favorite way to cook and eat them.

I can eat my body weight in roasted veggies.  You think I’m joking….

Roasting is such a simple quick way to prepare them while not killing off the nutritional value. I usually use some olive oil, lots of cracked pepper and some sea salt. Roast at about 450 and stir occasionally to let them crisp up.

Pure. Heaven.

Ok I’m giving you a cheat sheet for common ones so you have no excuse to not try them 😉

roasted veggie

Ok maybe you like steamed. Some veggies are lovely when steamed till crisp tender. Steaming also helps retain all of the vitamins and minerals present in them.

steaming pic
Some humor for you ’cause well.. it’s how I roll 😉

And to help you out… here’s a short list of steaming, boiling, and for the always handy micro 😉

veggie-cooking-cheat-sheet

And for the record, all of those will roast up quite nicely too.

One of my favorite roasted combos is sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.

Ok… stop turning up your nose and making gagging noises.  I hear you.

Seriously, I’ve turned my kids into brussel sprout eaters by roasting them. If the only memories you have are of Sunday dinner and grandma cooking the life out of them and watching them roll around your plate…well.. leave those memories behind and get in the here and now.

The sweetness of the potatoes blends so wonderfully with the sprouts… yummy. Let them cook long enough to get crispy with the potatoes.

I have some friends who chop up a little bacon and cook them together. Now if you go this route be mindful your also adding additional fat to otherwise healthy veggies…but it is really good 😉

Roasted cauliflower is another favorite. In fact, I have to watch myself ’cause I’ll just nibble at it while I’m finishing dinner then wonder.. “didn’t I make more of this?” haha

It’s another kid favorite too. I’ve now gone to making two heads when I do it to ensure everyone can have what they want. Not only that, leftovers make great additions to my salad lunch the next day.

Ok maybe now I should try and sell you on WHY you should be consuming vast quantities of these.

benefits-of-specific-foods

Keep in mind, this is no where near a comprehensive chart.

Veggies not only fill you up for minimal calories, they deliver incredible health benefits to your body in the way of vitamins and minerals.

They can help protect/prevent many diseases.  You can eat wheelbarrow loads of them and not worry about calories.

They do amazing things for your skin, hair, and many offer anti-aging benefits as well as help keep you lean.

A diet high in veggies/fruits also ensures that your internal systems all work regularly and properly.

Eating plenty of veggies also gives you energy and keeps you from that sluggish feeling of to many higher carb foods in a meal.

Listen to me. Just eat your veggies.

Your body wants them. Your health will improve with them. It will help you lose weight. It will help with the appearance of your skin and hair. Oh yeah, and remember me mentioning many have anti-aging properties?

How many reasons do you need to eat them? All you need to do is be willing to be open to try some new things and experiment. If you make a valiant effort with something you don’t like, move on to the next one.

Has it ever made you wonder why there are sooooo many veggies and fruits? It’s because we were made to eat a whole lot of them AND they are amazingly good for us!

veggie tales clip

Do you have favorite veggies? How do you cook them? Share your veggie tales with me 😉

Ordinary Kids

ordinary

 

So it’s getting to be that time of year again. Some years, I get to participate, other years I’ve been able to skip it. Those are the years we save our money and our sanity.

What you wonder am I talking about ?

Having the privilege to graduate another child out of school.

The culmination of years of homework, teacher meetings, open houses, class parties, field trips, school projects, peanut butter sandwich lunches, new clothes shopping, tons of school supplies, sleep overs, class birthday parties, band concerts, yearly school pictures, dances shows, football games, fun and unexpected calls from the Principal ( if you have boys you may understand this better 😉 ) early morning practice sessions, after school tutoring, school dances, boy friends, girl friends, college applications, college testing…

Ok.. I could go on… the list of things you do in a child’s school career is rather vast and endless. At times you wonder if you’ll ever get to the end of it.

I can say I’m there. My final one is exiting school and heading into the big world with college in her future.

We’ve ordered announcements, taken final pictures, and done the hundred and one things that seem to come crashing in the last few months of school.

I gotta admit this. She’s the last of my big brood.  By this time I’ve pretty well felt like I could lead parent/teacher night. Or that I could predict with certainty that when I showed up for another year starting in dance, it would be same lines, new year. Or that some things in school just never changed much and it was comforting already knowing the drill on it.

I was the older, smarter more seasoned mom. I figured that in a few years they’d get it too… it takes some moving through the ranks before you learn you can say “no” to things..  😉

By the time my daughter hit Senior status I was pretty much like… “just deliver me the necessary paperwork”.

I knew the drill for it all. Many of teachers through middle and high school had already had the rest of the crew… a new year was like old home week… meet and greet… just another new family face rolling through their room.

Although in all fairness to my daughter, one of my sons had made quite a um…mark… on several teachers going through various grades.. she’d get the “ohhhh… you’re so and so’s sister?”

If you have kids then you may have one of these… the high energy, high maintenance, social, outgoing never slow down, yet charming, kid.

Anyway, thankfully, the daughter child was probably a bit more quiet and laid back than previous brood members who went through.

No matter what the bottom line was this…

Get them through. Get them on that stage wrapping their hand around that cherished diploma.

I swear when middle son walked the stage it was ALL I could do not to stand and cheer and whoop like some wild woman. There were debatable days in his final year I wondered if we’d make it.

Now each class has it own “cream of the crop” the “crème de’ le crème” right? You  know the ones who’ve been marked since first grade to be the Validictorian ? Every kid in the class knows it. They simply accept it as what’s going to be and move on.

Then there’s the whole “class ranking” thing which was making my daughter get all twitchy one day till I reminded her…

“they don’t hang a number around your neck when you walk the stage. No one will know, and honestly, no one cares..”

I reminded her when she’s out in the real world it will be completely irrelevant as well.

Then there’s the whole college thing. The angst of wondering if one will want her… if she will “make the cut” or be found acceptable. It doesn’t help when her friends are collecting admin letters like candy at a parade.

I reminded her that she could only go to one school and she will still get her degree to do what she wants.

In a community that’s big on pushing college it’s a lot of pressure on kids ( and parents) to feel like they need to perform up to some lofty expectations.. who’s.. I’m not sure…

’cause you see I have ordinary kids and it’s ok.

I’ve never tried to make them do things they didn’t want to do.

Support them in their goals and plans, yes. Push my agendas and desires on them, no.

We learned the hard way when we registered my oldest son for a semester of college, paying cash for it so he wouldn’t have any debt. He went like… three times? and then he said something that really paved the way for the rest of the brood yet to come down the college path way…

He said “you never asked me what I wanted to do. IF this was what I wanted”

Ouch. Point made.

Did I consider him any less successful for not jumping on the college boat? Not at all. My son has always had an artistic bend and was in a band. He traveled around the country for months with them. He lived every 19 year old young mans dream… being in a band in a new town every night, living for those moments on stage.  Living in new places and eating off value menus and sleeping folded up in a van driving down highways in the dark of night. He didn’t do that forever. He settled down and works with his brother now in a family business.

Two of my other sons have wanted to pursue college. One went for awhile and then quit to take on a floundering business that he has turned into a success over the past few years.   One is in college right now working on his degree.

But through these years of raising kids and wanting them to find and embrace what their own passion is I realized it’s ok, really ok, for them to be ordinary.

And I don’t mean that in  a plain vanilla way or that they lack value, substance and intelligence because they are all very bright, funny, and clever. They know how to learn and teach themselves things and they are always actively learning.

I mean they don’t have to live someone else’s ideals or expectations or get caught up in the hype with friends and feel like they are somehow “less than” ’cause they perceive the friends are somehow more successful. I don’t need to have them do things to feel validated as a parent.

I saw a T-shirt recently that made me laugh ’cause it’s how I feel so often. It said:

“Worlds okayest Mom”

Maybe I need to buy it. It reminds me I can be me, can be the best mom I can without having to “do it all” or be at every meeting or every event, or get my kids into Harvard.

At the end of the day its about my kids being happy, successful, productive  adults and maybe even a bit, ordinary.

However, if they make an impact in their personal worlds and are decent human beings, I will consider them, and myself, quite successful indeed.

 

 

 

I Eat Ice Cream Don’t Judge Me

It had been one of those days. My morning started as usual, workout, then the life stuff I had to attend to.

After that, it was off to town to do errands and finally, landing in my favorite coffee cave to chill, socialize, and write.

Oh yeah. That’s what I’m here for.

Writing 😉

Believe it or not, I am way more productive being out than being at home where things pull at me.

I had been writing for awhile and was wrestling with the feeling of needing something sweet. This is sometimes for me, normal, after a morning with a hard workout.

Sugar is nothing but pure, raw fuel for the body. I’ve learned to not fight against it when it hits, but get something to quiet that need.

Last year after a particularly long run, by midafternoon, I was craving jelly beans in the worst way. ( Can you say sugar?)  I went and bought some and chowed down on a handful without blinking.

jelly beans

The next day, I had a couple and was overwhelmed with how sweet they were. I didn’t touch them after that.

Fast forward to the other afternoon with a similar feeling creeping in. I kept writing but that need was still there.

I finally decided I wanted ice cream. Actually, where I got it, it’s a fancier version with other goodies added into it. This one happened to be Salted Caramel.

As I’m prone to do posting fun, random, or whatever pics on my social media sites, I posted a pic of the ice cream.

20170509_164802
It’s drool worthy, right ? 😉

 

As I expected several of my friends teased me about being “normal” and  they were happy to see I ate stuff  like, ice cream.

Of course I do.  Don’t judge me 😛

I’m not just some perpetual veggie eating machine 😉  I mean I am… but… I still like some treats too.

Anyway, yeah, so the ice cream was delicious. But my tummy also let me know a bit later it wasn’t to crazy about that heavy treat during the day when it’s not used to it.

 

20170516_141726
Did I eat it all ?!

 

When you eat healthy most of the time, that other stuff really begins to not set well in your tummy.

So why am I telling you this? Because I want to share with you what I shared with those who follow me on social media.

The main thing that has led to me being successful in my weight loss and fitness has been a healthy dose of balance and moderation.

I knew I’d never be successful if I developed my own plan and it was restrictive and rigid. Somehow, knowing I could have my favorite things took away the focus from them. It’s a huge mental game and it was one I wanted to be in control over.

As I bounced through those first couple years losing weight, chocolate and occasional French fries were a part of my success. So was birthday cake and Christmas cookies.

Note I used the word occasional. As time went on, the pull became less and less.  Mainly in part because your tastes begin to change and those foods start to taste “off” and that also helps to stay away from it. The other part is, knowing it was available in some ways, made me not think about it.

This is what I want to bring to you.

I believe successful weight loss comes with balance. We need to get rid of the all or nothing mentality. Have lots or have none. Do without or eat it all.

These thoughts and attitudes do not lead to success. They can contribute to guilt and more self indulgence. When we believe we’ve “failed” it turns into a brutal cycle we can battle.

The only time you fail is when you quit. Staying with it no matter how bad you think you might’ve done in a day is more successful than quitting.

Life is going on and it has fun things like celebrations, and sometimes, it even has random just for the hell of it ice cream afternoons.

Did eating ice cream change anything for me? Did it change my fitness level? Make me gain 5 lbs? Turn me into a crazy “I can eat anything now” monster because I had ice cream?

No.

Nothing changed for me.

I eat well 95% of the time and the other is for whatever floats my boat.

Balance. Moderation. What is sustainable for the rest of my life.

That stuff works.

If you make it your goal to eat well and eat well the majority of the time, you are on your way to a life time of success. Throw in some solid exercise you’re doing even better.

I firmly believe that when you know you can have everything ( not that you are going to) and that foods aren’t forbidden or good or bad,  it removes a lot of the power from them.

It protects you from the “Last Supper” mentality.

You know… eat it ALL now ’cause tomorrow I diet and I will never, ever have it again.

**raise your hand if you’ve done that** 😉

If you know you can have it, you don’t have to act like the garbage can and clean it all up in a night. No one will take it away so you can’t have it again. Really, your favorite foods will still be around.

Do you see how so much of our thinking can be disordered when it comes to food and weight loss ?

This might take some practice. It might take a failed attempt or two to nail this practice. Maybe you’ll slip up and eat a half bag of cookies.

It’s ok… keep on with it… not the eating cookies part, the practice part 😉

With practice and some balance and moderation, you can have your ice cream and lose weight too.

 

The Weird And Wonderful Things About Runners

So I haven’t written any posts on the wonderful act of running lately.  Not that it hasn’t been on my mind OR something I’ve been slowly crawling back into.

I have been back on the road. I’ve been juggling cycling and short runs. In fact, I’ll be doing it very soon this morning.

Last week, I did my first double digit miles in…well… I can’t honestly tell you.

10 miles.  I felt glorious in that tired, exhilarating way that a long run can make me feel. Especially when I’ve not been able to for so long.

I wondered taking off… can I still DO this ?!

Over the past year or so I’ve been walking a fine line with an Achilles issue of doing enough but not doing to much to send me horribly backwards.  I’m not fully fixed yet but I’ve come to a careful balance of “if I don’t feel any worse, it’s a win” .

Actually, I’ve been using a method that is recommended by many running experts which is a run/walk method. It’s great for a newbie to start getting acclimated to running and protecting from over injuries of doing to much to soon.

The same theory works for a wounded runner easing back into it. The idea being not to over do and let your body adjust to the rigors of being on the road again.

If you’ve never done it, it works something like this. You might start off with a strong, brisk walk and do that for awhile, then start adding in maybe, 10-15 second running intervals, then drop to brisk walking again. You just continue to alternate this through your miles. Of course, the plan is a gradual increase in running time.

Mentally, I have to really keep myself in check from not letting myself run to fast or to long. It’s hard when I know what I’ve done and what I’m capable of doing and keep it reined in to my current needs.

All that to say…as a distance runner… it’s hard to not long for that time on the road. It becomes a craving.

distance running

Last week I had gone on a 9 mile jaunt and wondered why I had not just gone the full 10 ( again, baby steps) I know mileage increase needs to occur in small increments to not have set backs or to make injury worse.

Actually I finished with my Garmin saying 9.10… which left me with that thought.. why not have just finished it out to 10?

It’s how runners think.. what’s another mile?

Runners are a weird, wonderful lot.

I never thought that till I became one. It’s funny how you start thinking about things. How you look at things.

Things that start to feel normal to you, but if you speak it out loud to non-runners, they give you that raised eyebrow look or simply tell you that you’re crazy.

Right there is one of those very thoughts…

When you tell a runner they are “crazy” it’s like, one of the coolest compliments you can give us. It means.. you are insane and I’d never even think of doing such a thing but I really admire you for your craziness.

crazy

Mileage. If we are coming down the home stretch to where we will finish our run and realize our Garmin is telling us we have only a quarter mile or less to roll to the next mile, you can bet we are gonna make that next mile roll over.

One does not simply stop running that close to hitting the next mile 😉

We spend more on our running shoes than anything else we put on our feet.

It’s the truth. Not only do we spend more, we will wear those suckers out faster than any other shoes we put on our feet.  And we go right back and repeat the process. If we have a brand and model we love we look forward to and anticipate when they newest model will come out.

Next to shoes, it’s clothes. They can be bright, colorful and sometimes very noticeable. We often wear minimal clothes. Running, that’s hard work and gets your inner heater going. The clothes can be as pricey as the shoes.

running clothes

We view injuries as a total inconvenience to our running schedule, training and future plans instead of worrying about how we may have beat ourselves up.

We view hills as something to overcome and rule over.  If we’re worth our salt, they become a part of our training ground.

hill

I caught myself in this one the other day talking to my husband about my recent 10 miles out…

” My run was only 10 miles”

It’s like… as a runner your thinking shifts and you see some things as perfectly normal and no big deal…

Then it hit me.. 10. Miles.

That is a flipping long way.

True, I’ve gone further. The half, full and ultra marathon were definitely lots longer distances.

10 miles during training for those events was nothing.

But when you casually talk about a cool 10 miles before breakfast…. you realize…you’re weird and that normal people aren’t out doing that.

Your foam roller becomes a new best friend. Or in my case, I now roll out on a pvc pipe. It’s a wonderful “hurts so good” feeling sometime. But oh so necessary to keep muscles loose and pliable.

Some nights my evenings are so exciting watching a favorite tv show and rolling.

Runners willingly pay money to run long distances, in all kinds of weather (cause when you’ve already paid, you run.) We usually get a t shirt, a cool medal to add to our collection and a banana at the end. We push ourselves and if we’re lucky we set a new PR and walk away with the bragging rights for having done it.

banana

Speaking of weather. Yeah, we run in pretty much whatever.  Yeah, we hear you use the adjective “crazy” on us again.

We can’t explain it to you… really… we can’t.

But there is something about running when the weather is less than perfect and you’re out in the elements working against them that makes you feel like… a beast.

rain

It’s exhilarating.  Trust us. It is.

And miles… It’s how our brains now work. Every where we go we measure things in distance of miles. We think about it in terms of speed and arriving to our destination. We know miles to and from our house, around the block, or our favorite running place. Actually, we could probably tell you to the tenth of a mile the distance.

It’s sick. I know. I’m pretty sure our brains go through a rewiring process or something.

Math. I’ve never been into math. I think it’s boring. I never got the complex stuff in school.  I love words more. Yet, here I am in sports that have me thinking of times and splits and mentally measuring pace and distance to finish when I want to finish. It’s constant, ongoing, mental math.

Oh the irony.

People. Wonderful, supportive people.   The running community is made up of the friendliest, most supportive people I’ve encountered.

Fast, slow or in between we cheer each other on, celebrating each others successes and personal bests. Encouraging when we get derailed and set back. Offering help and advice on training, recovery etc.

Weird and wonderful.

But hey… don’t just take my word for these things. There’s always room for one more runner. Come join us 🙂

 

Menopause, Muscles And Middle Age

As a writer I often have multiple ideas bouncing through my head at any given time. I have random papers with ideas, thoughts, or titles scratched out on them. I do have a writing…uh “journal”.  Journal might be the wrong word… it’s like my writing BRAIN.

20170509_122437.jpg
Don’t judge me.  A writers brain can kinda look like this at any given time 😉

 

It has research notes, future blog ideas, and tons of random, misplaced words all over pages that no one would get but me.

Uh…hey… sometimes I don’t even remember what they’re either 😛

The bad thing is when I’m out on the road…bike or running… which can be some of my most creative thinking times… and an idea comes to me. I have nothing to write it on so it kinda becomes my mantra till I finish so I don’t forget it.

If I’m fortunate enough to have a title come first, that gets written down to be saved for the body to come and fill it out.

Todays topic has been a slow work in process. I’ve read and scratched out research notes and tried to compare the best sensible ideas and now… hopefully… put it into a readable format.

Todays topic is one that still mystifies me as to why, in this day and age, with the “anything goes” attitude, why it’s still so “hush hush”.

Oh the topic for today? Menopause.

menopause

**Gasp**    I know. I’m going there.

I am a pretty open straight forward person and am not put off by much. To me, it’s simply one more natural part of life.

Well, for women that is. Yet even in todays “whatever goes” world this is still treated in hushed silence with an overarching attitude that says this topic should only be quietly discussed behind closed doors… and certainly not around… men.

Guys, you can bow out now if you want. Or read. I’m pretty sure you have some woman in your life that will experience this.  Maybe you’ll glean something useful.

How did I get started on this topic ? It’s certainly something I personally haven’t given much thought too. I mean, I know at some point it will happen. I’m just to busy living life to think much about it.

However, I’ve had a few women reach out to me asking for help/ideas… how did I deal with it etc. etc.

I’d also see posts or hear conversations with women who were quite a bit younger than me complaining of “the change” and complaining of symptoms ( peri menopause, the years preceeding menopause.)

The thing is I had nothing to offer.  I haven’t gone through it and I seemingly haven’t struggled with horrible symptoms leading up TO the big event.

Based on some things I’d read, and things my doctor had said, I was curious if my lifestyle had an impact on this.

Did a healthy diet, an appropriate weight, and regular vigorous exercise contribute to not dealing with so many of these issues that bothered women?

Obviously, I was curious and began to read and explore this thought. Perhaps, if there was truth to this, women weren’t helpless victims to symptoms but would actually have some measure of possible control over them.

Ok but first.

There’s a lot out there on this topic. I’ve tried to wade through hocus pocus stuff, weird fixes, overall “off beat” ideas, and just bring something simple and easy to digest for the average woman reading.

This is about managing symptoms women deal with, not stopping or preventing menopause.

As stated earlier, this is a natural part of life. It’s largely genetic as to when it occurs in every woman. Other factors can come into play as well as to when it occurs.  The median range in the U.S. for women to experience menopause is 51.  Although there is also an age range of 48-55.  A woman is considered menopausal when she has gone a full 12 months with no periods.

It turns out doing research, and weighing that against my own experiences, that there are things we can do to help with those annoying and sometimes, difficult symptoms.

First, a quick biology lesson.  Menopause is when a woman’s body stops producing female hormones, estrogen and progesterone and monthly cycles cease.

Peri menopause refers to the years leading up to menopause. It is during this time that women can have symptoms or problems associated with declining hormones.

When you have low estrogen ( because it’s not adequately produced) it can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, rare periods, anxiety, bone loss, insulin resistance, and elevation of bad cholesterol.  Moodiness, low sex drive, changes in skin and hair are also other things that are reported.

Women also complain of weight gain and a slowing metabolism but that can possibly be connected to a lifestyle of inactivity.

So are there ways to keep our super power longer? Estrogen IS our super power. Are there ways to help our bodies produce it longer? Ways to supplement it naturally?

There are definitely things that a woman can be proactive in doing that can possibly help her during this time. It just requires some adjustments to her lifestyle and choices she makes.

What have I learned ?

Exercise IS important!

in fact I believe hugely important. Aside from the obvious benefits of helping maintain weight or losing it there are a plethora of other things to consider.

Exercise helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can help with moods and aches and pains, all common complaints of post menopausal women.

Exercise also contributes to good blood flow through the body. Regular exercise keeps blood flowing and the immune system normal. Proper body function through exercise increases the bodies hormone production naturally.   Estrogen production levels are kept normal for longer than usual.

This is important as imbalanced hormones are behind most symptoms.

Physically active women experience less stress, anxiety, and depression during this time.

Due to a decrease in estrogen women can also lose muscle mass, which can also mean a loss of strength.

Post menopausal women are also at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

This is believed to be due to the loss of estradiol during perimenopause and at the onset of menopause. Estradiol may have antioxidant properties, and the loss of this can be why oxidative stress levels rise in postmenopausal women and can ultimately lead to cardiovascular disease.

Women who are more active experience a decrease in oxidative stress due to increase in enzymatic antioxidant levels. While this might be true, it is still important to remember that problems with heart health could also be tied to the stress that many women experience around menopause due to lack of sleep, lack of understanding, and a lack of a solid support system. Regardless, training for a healthy heart is so important.

The recommended amount of cardio exercise each week is at least 150 minutes.

Action plan:

If you don’t currently exercise consider what you might enjoy doing and begin to pursue it. If anything, start getting out for daily vigorous walks. And I don’t mean walking like you’re with grandma on a Sunday afternoon. Move quickly. Move your arms. You should really be putting some effort into it.

Add some type of strength training/weight bearing exercise to strengthen and build bones and prevent muscle loss. Women post menopause can expect to lose 2-3% of bone density in a year and physically inactive people can expect to lose 3-5% of their muscle mass after 30.  A healthy diet and exercise can help the slowing of bone mineral density. Running, walking, jumping rope, lifting weights etc are all good examples to strengthen bones and muscles.

older woman muscles

Engage a friend to get on board with you for accountability and encouragement.

Strive for 5-6 days a week of at least 30 minutes. This would easily meet the recommended 150 minutes.  Ideally, in time, you will want to increase your activity level.

Maintain a healthy weight.

All of us have a weight range that is healthy for us. Know what yours is. Being overweight or obese can not only lead to irregular ovulation but it also greatly contributes to hot flashes, the main complaint for many women.

And of course the obvious. Being over weight can lead to a host of health problems you’d rather not deal with.

Action plan:

take a critical look at how you eat and what you eat. Be aware of what your portions are. Most people greatly over estimate portion sizes of food. Aim for healthy foods as the maintain stay of your diet. Don’t be overly restrictive or it could lead to binging.

It might be helpful to record every single thing you eat for a week to see what your daily nutrition looks like. Be honest. This isn’t to beat yourself up over, rather to have as an honest tool to help you.   Use that as a guide to make improvements.

A weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week is reasonable and sustainable. Just approach it in a slow and steady manner. It’s not a track and field event to knock weight off fast.

A before picture will give you a good visual months down the road to compare your efforts to as well as taking your measurements.

Don’t smoke or drink.

ok well in general it’s just my thought that you shouldn’t do these things.  I view neither as a positive or healthy thing for the body.

However, we’re all different.

If you do drink be aware that alcohol can be a major trigger for hot flashes and can increase symptoms as the body is less tolerant to it.  Not only that, alcohol is often high in sugar and calorie content contributing to weight gain.

Smoking. Not only is it horrible for your heart and lungs and contributes to aging, consider these other things:

Women who smoke have signifigantly higher levels of infertility, difficult cycles, and early menopause.

Smoking can also increase natural menopause by 1-2 years regardless of genetics or race.

Heavy or habitual smokers may hit menopause before they are 50.

Smokers may also have more hot flashes as they transition.

Action Plan:

Smoking and drinking can not only cause adverse health effects, but it can also wreak havoc on you during peri and menopause years. Consider reducing or limiting your intake of both, or quitting all together.

Nutrition:

I could camp for awhile on this topic and just tell you how important I think it is.  Not only to your health overall but in these years of transition for your body.

A good daily “diet” not only makes you feel better, it helps with how you look, helps you to lose or maintain weight, and can help with symptoms of peri menopause.

Do you know there are foods called photo estrogens? Photo estrogen foods can stimulate natural hormone production.

Phytoestrogens are created by plants. They are not the same estrogen created by humans. Rather they are a form of xenoestrogens, which means even though they are different, they do have the ability to imitate some effects of human estrogen when in our body.

During peri-menopause some doctors recommend an increase in photo estrogen foods to counteract hormonal imbalances women begin to experience.

Antioxidant foods prevent  premature aging . Since menopause is a sign of overall aging consuming antioxidant foods can delay menopause too.

Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and photo estrogens can contribute to overall better health and help stimulate natural hormone production.

Some foods to consider are:

Soy, celery, parsley, beets, apples, mushrooms, brussel sprouts,  seaweed, squash, olives, pears, plums, tomatoes, barley, wheat germ,  yams, and  black eyed peas.

Soy can also help with the reduction of bone loss during peri menopause.

Vitamin D (sunlight exposure) mimics properties of estrogen. Also, make sure you get plenty of calcium as well to help your bones 🙂

Antioxidant foods to consider are:

Red, purple and blue grapes, blueberries, red berries, nuts, dark green veggies, sweet potatoes and orange vegetables, tea, whole grains and fish.

Adequate protein is also extremely important to build and repair muscles. Make sure each meal contains at least 30% to combat hunger, prevent blood sugar spikes, and contribute to muscle growth.

Eating a healthy diet,  and eating minimal junk/sugar/high fat/sugar drinks/fast foods can go a long way to helping you feel and look good and contribute to your overall health.

Finally, it is important that you have open communication with your doctor to discuss issues or difficulties you may be having.  Some women with severe symptoms will do HRT ( Hormone Replacement Therapy) there has been much said about this in recent years so do your homework and decide if you can ride through some things or if it’s something critical to your living well that you do HRT.

Be proactive :

Lose weight. Make exercise a daily part of your life. Reduce or quit smoking. Reduce or quit drinking alcohol. Make an effort to eat healthy, nutritionally balanced foods, incorporating plenty of antioxidants and photo estrogen foods in what you eat.

In summary…  menopause is a part of life.  Women need to be prepared and not just wait for symptoms to occur. Taking care of yourself now will have long term benefits, before and after menopause, allowing you to live strong and healthy in the last third of your life.

 

 

 

Younger Next Year For Women Book Review

20170216_202511

Among other things I enjoy doing in life, reading is at the top of the list.

Weird, I know, someone who writes likes to read.

Sometimes I have a hard time just being still to do it. However, if I get into a good book, well then, the house could fall down around me and I’d be oblivious.

Anyone else out there like that?

Ok so I’ve just finished a book I’m excited over. It’s a fun, easy read, and packed full of humor and super good information. I’ve been eager to finish and write a book review on it ’cause I really think everyone should read it… it’s like…that good.

It’s called “Younger Next Year For Women” . Of course, anyone can read it, but it’s really driven at the middle aged crowd. The “over 40 and pushing the Senior citizen discount crowd.”

Don’t let the title distract you.

It’s not coming from a point so prevalent in society today… trying to physically look younger with often extreme measures involved in a pursuit to look like we did in high school.

The title of the book does imply, being older but still being young at heart, strong, active, full of life and vitality. Being able to physically do things you did 10 years previously. Sometimes, doing them better.

Why wouldn’t you want to be able to do that?  Sign me up.

My doctor recommended the book to me when I was in for my yearly checkup telling me I “embodied the women” they wrote about.  She thought I’d be encouraged by the information since I was already doing many of the things the authors encouraged their readers to do.

Well, of course I was intriqued.  I had found it on Amazon before I ever pulled out of the parking lot.

It cost me a whole $4.00.

I realized seeing the authors names that I had read excerpts of their writings in magazines and found them entertaining, highly informative, and spot on with the truths they were preaching.  I guess because they were truths I had already been living out.

I was excited to get my hands on the entire work and not just pieces of it. Two men wrote the book, one  a Doctor, the other interestingly enough came into his life as his patient. Together they make a great team.

Meaning you have lots coming at you from a medical perspective and you have the other perspective from someone who’s walked the walk and is 70ish living a strong, healthy and energetic lifestyle.

So I’m going to just give you my personal take on it, my thoughts and observations.  If anything I hope you’ll spend a few dollars on the book and glean truths out of it that will help and motivate you to live a healthy, positive life, for the rest of your life.

Their first book, “Younger Next Year”,  was written with an eye towards middle aged men.  It was evidently such a huge success they had women asking them to write  a woman’s version of it with a focus on issues women deal with.  They did and it is appropriately titled, “Younger Next Year For Women”.

This is what my book review is on ’cause well… I’m a woman 😛

On a side note, I was reading on the patio at my favorite coffee hang out one afternoon. I was intent on finishing the book. I noticed a couple sitting there when I walked out. They were “older” but looked healthy and fit. After about 5 minutes the man asks of me… “are you enjoying the book?”

I think he’s just being polite and has no idea what I’m reading. The wife is smiling and she finally says… “we’ve read those books! we thought the men/women’s were so good we gave them as Christmas gifts to all our friends!”

I had to admit it was pretty weird timing to have them sitting there while I was polishing off the book, giving me their glowing review of it.

The overall idea of the book and the truths, thoughts and suggestions contained within are on living a strong, healthy, fit, (and gasp), even still being sexy, in what they refer to as the third stage of life.

Meaning, life after menopause.

You don’t have to “get old”, turn frumpy, get fat, tired, develop diseases and then die. ( seriously, they put this all in such a humorous way…don’t depend on me to spill it all here.)

Sadly, there is a pervasive thought that this is just “what happens”…like we’re helpless victims of aging… and so much of it doesn’t have to happen and is preventable.

I know, you might be looking at the title and  seeing that sexy part and think “hey, I’m old. Sexy went away a long time ago.”  Define that how you will,  but I still want to feel good about myself and I certainly have no intention of giving up my edge ’cause I’m not 20 or 30ish anymore. I’m not quitting and turning in my woman card just ’cause I’m older.

Ok.. besides that…. what my doctor already knew about me when she recommended the book, and what I’ve figured out since reading it, is that I’ve been doing all the things they are encouraging women to do to live a strong, and healthy life.

But when I read the lines “A book of hope, that shows you how to  become functionally younger for the next five to ten years, and continue to live thereafter with newfound vitality. How to avoid 70 percent of the normal problems of aging, and eliminate 50 percent of illness or injury. And how to live brilliantly for the three decades or more after menopause.” 

Now I’m not sure what “how to live brilliantly” exactly means but I’m down for it.

Who doesn’t wanna live, brilliantly ??

From the first few pages, I was hooked on it.  I already feel like I live an extremely active life compared to the majority of people my age.  My doctor teasingly calls me her poster child for middle aged fitness. I’ve been practicing an active, healthy lifestyle for quite a few years now and I know how I feel and the difference it’s made in me physically, well it’s made a difference in all areas actually.

Eating well and vigorous exercise make big impacts on our bodies and our minds.

And of course I’m interested in learning how I can keep doing the things I’m doing now…. for the rest of my life.

Who wouldn’t want to ?!

When I look ahead, I see myself doing the things I do today. I have no desire to be less active or not be able to do the things I do now.

What happens for so many is that they stop moving.  They stop using their bodies.  They gain weight and become more and more sedentary. This causes weakness and frailty as we get older. This can also contribute to the development of diseases.

The aging process.

I loved this line in the book “you do have to age, but you don’t have to rot”

That line just landed hard on me. That word…. rot….. just the mental visions it stirred up.. yuck.

I don’t want to be a part of the rotting group.

From birth, we begin an aging process. The authors point is that we all go through the aging process. We rot when we stop using our bodies. It gives creed to the jokes of “getting older and falling apart”.

Their point… it doesn’t have to happen. You will age, but rotting, can largely be prevented.  Illnesses and age related issues that people think “happen ’cause you’re old” can be avoided.

The book is laid out in an easy conversational tone with the “patient”  Chris, and the Doctor, Henry. Each one takes a chapter and addresses different thoughts or ideas. Chris, from  living a lifestyle as the patient who needed to make changes and the impact that’s had on him and Henry, the doctor who basically called him out on his lifestyle and how it was affecting him. He of course brings all the hard hitting physical and medical truths to us in the book.

Their writing is humorous and easy to read. It’s smart and intelligent.

It’s also hard hitting and blunt… just a heads up. They call things as they see them and pull no punches.

Straight truth. It might make you squirm. Or convict you. It might even make you mad if it hits close to home.

Why? Because they are passionate about what they do, what they believe, and the HUGE impact they see on people who do the things they recommend.

As I’ve contemplated what to write you about this book, I’ve realized I just want to share entire chapters with you and that won’t do ’cause then you won’t have to get the book and read it!

And you should read it… remember… it’s pretty cheap information on being strong, fit, and healthy for the rest of your life.

Below are their cardinal rules for living this life I’m talking about. This will have to do for now.  They greatly expand on all these areas in the chapters of the book, which you’ll have to get it if you want to learn more about what they say on these points  😉

20170503_145245

Not just that…if you like to laugh… you’ll want to read it. Delivering anything with a stroke of humor always works for me.

But more than anything, read it if you want to make an impact on your future life.

Have you read anything lately that’s made an impact on you ?

 

 

 

Just Google It!

google

So it’s been a couple days since I’ve posted something.  Life, you know ? Trying to multi task on several big things, and keep up with my training and other projects that need my attention can leave me feeling like it’s supreme effort just to think on some days.

Nod your head if you agree with me… you’ve been there…

As in yesterday. I’ve tried to make my run/cycle/run days midweek as it fits in well to my training. Anyway, to put it mildly, those days place a heavier physical demand on me than others. Add to it, after I finished I did some errands and then came home and cut grass for an hour.

I didn’t think I’d be able to drag my carcass to bed that night, much less write something smart, witty or sarcastically clever for you.

And I have all these ideas rattling around in my head clamoring to get out…for instance…

A book review I’m itching to get to.  I finished such an awesome book that I think everyone should read. Seriously.  Anyway, keep your eyes open for that coming soon.

Or more thoughts on healthy lifestyles.  Or a couple ones on food, ’cause I love to eat and so do you 😉

BUT THEN there’s this other thing… those diet/health/wellness companies. It doesn’t help when people send me stories or ads  because they know it gets me fired up ( thankfully they too, are on the same page and get it) and then I get to reading those claims about those products and thinking about the absolute, total, complete nonsense of some of it and then before I know it…

I’m writing a post on products and other overall odd stuff people  buy into on the daily.

Hold on…I’m on my soapbox again… and I promised after last weeks Snake Oil post I’d settle down for a bit.

Ah, maybe I shouldn’t make such empty promises… not when there is so  much rich material always at my fingertips.

I just get so passionate about people who will believe this stuff and are desperate and all they ultimately will really lose is their hard earned money. And let’s face it, there’s a plethora of companies out there with promises of health, wellness and overall ease into a healthy lifestyle.

It’s not easy! It does require work! It does require discipline and a willingness to keep at it every single day!

There are no short cuts to being healthy and fit, yet so many will go to many extremes other than simply doing what needs to be done.

Often these products are simply band-aids covering the underlying problem and never fixing or getting to the root of why a person is overweight and what their relationship is with food. Nor are they learning about balance, healthy eating and the importance of moving their bodies.

Let me just throw out some words from a few of these sales pitches that made my eyebrows arch even more…honestly… one of these days… they’re gonna arch right off my face…..

“Pounds don’t matter”, “detox fat cells to burn inches properly”, “oxygenate the body”, “build muscle”, “keep your blood sugar in check”, “lower your cholesterol”, “burn fat”, “control your cravings”, “many people can’t lose weight because of their blood sugars going up and down”, and finally my favorite…… “X product”  knows how to grab the yuck and send it out while blasting oxygen throughout your body”.

WHAT?!

And last but not least, the most interesting thing in so many of these glowing endorsements is to “go Google it!”

Like…really? You’re talking something up you are supposedly an expert on and you can’t even deliver to me, your reader, credible sources of information?

As a writer, research is something not new to me. I often consult a variety of sources to glean what seems to be the most consistent, overall thoughts, or ideas on a topic.

But consulting Google on your product or better yet, conditions you are supposedly curing with it, is sketchy at best.  And again I’m left wondering, why am I the reader, or better yet, anticipated future customer, having to go “Google it”.

I want to just pull out a few things to comment on from the quotes above…

“Pounds don’t matter”. Ok, so I understand there is more to the overall weight loss and getting fit than just the scale numbers. But if you’re overweight, yeah, extra pounds DO matter.

“Build muscle”. Listen, if building muscle was as easy as some supplement, pill or drink we’d all look like muscular gods.  It’s not. I’ve worked my butt off for years, as have many other people I know. It takes work, discipline, and a good daily diet to build muscle.

“Keep your blood sugar in check”.  So here’s the deal. Our bodies are designed in a perfect beautiful way to operate without manmade potions to keep them healthy, regulated or “balanced.”

It’s really super cool.

In case you missed biology or it’s been awhile… here’s how that works… the pancreas secretes insulin to balance glucose levels, keeping it from getting to high or to low. People with diabetes inject insulin because the pancreas is not working properly.

If you are having problems with high blood sugar, or you feel there might be a problem, you need to be working with a doctor. That means something is not working right in your body.

Otherwise, why would you take something for your blood sugar or to keep “levels in check” ? A healthy body does just fine keeping it “in check”.  And who is really determining that?  Are these people actually testing their blood ( as a diabetic person would) to know if everything is “in check”?

“Burns fat”. Hey, you know what burns fat?  A good dose of cardio exercise several times a week. Best fat burner out there.

Lower your cholesterol, control your cravings” just gonna throw this out there… when you eat a healthy, nutritious daily diet with scheduled meals, you won’t have that up and down swing of being hungry and craving things. Throw in at least 30% protein to every meal and you will feel “stable” and not have cravings.  Stop eating junk.  A healthy diet goes a long way to reducing cholesterol and even better if you add exercise in with it.

“Many people can’t lose weight because of their blood sugars going up and down”   People don’t lose weight because they eat to much and don’t move enough.

“Detoxing fat cells to burn inches properly” now I’m not sure how my fat cells are going to know from this product that they should now pay attention and burn my inches off “properly”.

I just don’t have anything logical to even bring to the table on this line…. other than.. are you serious??? Burn off inches properly?

On the subject of “detox” again, back to our wonderfully made bodies. If your body isn’t “detoxing” you’ll know it. In fact, you’ll be in the hospital if it isn’t. The liver filters blood, the kidneys filter out waste and excess fluids, not to mention what goes through our intestines. If those are all systems go …. then skip the crazy detox stuff and just….eat… good, healthy foods!

As to the other… “grabbing yuck and blasting oxygen through your body”... I just have to wonder… is that on the generated company propaganda all sales people get ? I just don’t know if that sales pitch would work on me.

“Grabbing yuck”.  What, pray tell, is “yuck” ?  Someone. Please. Tell me.

You want oxygen blasting through your body? Exercise.

Ok well that’s a bit simplified but true.

Hey! there are other ways to get more oxygen in your body…. just Google it.