Those Necessary Vitamins And Minerals

vitamins and minerals
The natural way to get your vitamins and minerals….                                                                                                                                                    

It’s an interesting thing when hubby is in the medical field and I drag home my lab reports like a lil kid wanting to flash a report card with all “A’s” to their parents.

I show it to him letting him do his own professional look over when he proclaims that, yes, my HDL (good cholesterol ) at 80 is pretty amazing and everything else does look awesome but, “my potassium is really on the low end of the scale…. I need to eat more bananas or foods to push that up a bit.

For the record, mine was 3.7 with the low number on the scale being 3.5.

Ok, so maybe he was right. That was hovering right around the low end and those numbers don’t even reflect my body when I’m in the midst of heavy training.

Whoa…wait… maybe my dear 1.5 readers you’re sitting there scratching your head thinking… “what is potassium and why do I need to be concerned over it?”

Simplified, potassium along with sodium and chloride is one of your bodies most important electrolytes which are minerals in your blood, urine, and bodily fluids that contain an electric charge.

No kidding right ?? You’re ….electric 😉

Nearly 70% of your potassium is found in bodily fluids like plasma, blood and sweat, while the rest is stashed away in your bones. The adequate daily intake is 4.7 grams but most Americans don’t get enough in their diets… remember it’s flushed from your body in several ways making it a daily ongoing renewal.

This mineral does a lot of other things, like keeping your blood pressure in check among others.

In an average day we lose potassium through urine and sweat, but here’s where I sat up and paid more attention.

Athletes can have a higher loss due to more sweating, more so if you really sweat out a lot ( which I do).  Lower potassium levels can decrease your endurance and energy. Specifically, potassium works to regulate the nerves and muscles, it is also involved in the storage of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles. You need to consume potassium rich foods every day, especially if you’re an athlete.

It definitely is something I will be making a more intentional focus on especially as we move into warmer months where sweat abounds in physical activities 😛

So what will my strategy be? I’ve made a list of high and medium potassium foods, the majority of which I eat. Bananas are a high potassium food so I’ll be intentionally hammering out two a day.

Todays afternoon snack was a banana with some raw almonds =) I’m just going to keep track daily for awhile to see what my intake actually is.

I’m not getting all crazy over it… just some purposeful eating and then careful attention to my performance to notice any changes.

Who would think a mineral could make such a huge difference in the performance of your body?

And remember boys and girls the BEST way to get all of your vitamins and minerals is eating real food….not through shakes, pills, patches, powders or other random drink things.

This is ends your public service announcement 😉

Weekend Q&A Time

Ok so I hate not having something to share with you guys…but sometimes the weekends are…well.. the weekend.. and I give my brain a little time to rest from churning out (hopefully) relevant and encouraging words to you.

Sooo I decided to do a fun little Q&A thing… based on questions I’ve been asked at various times. Some, with predictable frequency, some just random. I’ll toss in the humorous and inquiring ones as well.

Here we go……

Have you always been a runner ? No. I’ve been running almost 5 years now with 7 half marathons, 2 full marathons, an ultra marathon and numerous smaller races under me. I think I need to stop considering myself a newbie 😛

You weren’t athletic in school? I was a band geek and twirler, does that count ?

Is running really hard? Yeah… it’s why I love it. When runs feel easy, you know you’re getting stronger.

How tall are you ? 6’0… barefooted…however I love heels which can throw me into the 6’3-6’4 range. #noapologies

Do you always eat healthy ? 95% of the time yes. If I want a treat, I have it. All things in moderation…leads to success.

How long is your marathon? 26.2 miles

Why did you start running? the insanity took over  nah…. really honestly, I started running ’cause I walk so crazy fast, it was easier to kinda lope along… eventually my speed picked up… and somehow… I was transformed into a runner.

What do you DO to look like that ? (as person indicates their hand up from my feet to my head) I make myself move and sweat a lot, lift heavy things, and I don’t have an affair with food 😉

You’re how old? Do I need to disclose that ? 😉

Do you do anything else besides run ? Yes, I love doing anything that keeps me entertained and moving. I’m getting more into cycling, I love the brute force of boxing, weights make me feel strong, swimming… anything to keep it moving.

Do you really drink black coffee? Why yes, yes I do.

Do you win your races ? Yes, every time I toe that start line, and every time I finish, I win. Personal victories are amazing.

How long is your marathon ?? 😉

What about your….. knees… don’t they hurt?? Nope but thanks for asking.

I’m not sure I want to lift weights, won’t I get bulky?  Do I look like the hulk ? 😉

How do I get abs?  We’ve all got them. On most people they’re hiding out under some extra body fat. Healthier eating, lower body fat and exercise can coax them out.

Did you play basketball? **see former band geek status**

Are you always training for something ? Pretty much. I love having goals and I love the structure of training.

When’s your next race? My next big race is a December marathon.

I don’t know if I could run all those miles. How do you ? One at a time…..

I’m trying to eat more veggies but I hate broccoli… what should I do?  Ha… don’t eat it 😉

Exercise makes me sweat. I can’t stand that. Doesn’t it bother you ? Not at all. It makes me feel like I’ve brought it all to the table.

Ok… that’s it for my random Q&A session… .. have a question? Toss them at me for future non-brain taxing blogs 😉 Meanwhile, have a good weekend!

You Are What You Eat

Hey boys and girls =)

So in view of my focus on being fit and healthy, one of the things that is important to me is making sure that I take care of myself with proper health care. I kinda refer to it as temple maintenance… just like we maintain anything else in our lives… shouldn’t managing our health be at the top of the list ?

That being said, today was my yearly check in with my family physician. One of the reasons I see him is to have labs done to make sure my thyroid levels are all still on par (which they have been for years now) I learned a lot about this tiny little thing (that we all have )several years back.

When I could barely drag myself through a day without desperately needing a nap, and I’m totally serious, my gyn inquired as to if I’d ever had it tested.

I was like… “what’s a thyroid??” haha

Anyway, a blood test revealed mine was way low on producing enough hormones which is why I was dragging so bad.

One tiny little pill and in a couple days… I felt like Wonder Woman… amazing. We will be fast friends for the rest of my life but I’m ok with that.

And by the way, the thyroid produces two hormones, T3 and T4, which control energy, regulate temperature, and assist other organs in their functions. It controls your metabolism and keeps your whole body functioning properly. It’s crucial that it’s all in balance for your overall well being.

Now that I educated you on that….. in a nutshell version 😉

Besides that it’s my bi-yearly weigh-in. Yes, seriously, I see my weight maybe twice a year.. freedom 😉 ( this will lead to another post on weight and body composition…watch for that)

Anyway, Mr. Doctor is also a friend in the “real world” so I don’t mind seeing him…  walks in and promptly says…

“Got your labs. Your boring. Good boring.”

He then rapid fire goes through numbers with me….all of which look stellar. My blood sugar, which I’m careful to watch since I’ve had family members deal with diabetes issues, came in at a low level. He also promptly said “and your cholesterol looks awesome, especially your good one” which was like 82.

For most people, yours truly included, getting the good cholesterol up is harder to do….exercise and eating well can drive it up.

(Hang with me… I’m going somewhere ) after going through labs it led into my athletic adventures. Not only does he counsel me on a “normal” person level, but also who I am as an athlete and what I’m doing physically.

We discussed my goals for the year…  my interest in a tri or duathlon…his concern I don’t run my legs off ( I promised him I DO listen to my body) … tried not to giggle as he once again proclaimed ” I don’t get you runners!” and talked over cross training, rest and recovery ideas.

He said “I’m always trying to get my patients to exercise and.. you… I feel like  I need to keep you reined in!”  haha

I love his support and encouragement… even if he might think I’m a lil crazy 😉

As he mentioned again my labs and how good and strong my heart and lungs sounded I quipped…….

” Seriously, all that exercise and eating right SHOULD have pay offs!”

Now here’s what I want you to pay attention to……

Our health and fitness levels are revealed in a lot more ways than how strong we may be or how fast we can run, or aesthetically what our bodies may look like. Yes, that all reveals levels of health, strength and fitness. When we have blood taken and tested that gives us a look at what’s going on INSIDE it also reveals an extremely important level of our health and wellness.

I know that sounds like a no brainer but so many people miss that.

Eating well and purposeful physical movement is an investment into our lives and the quality of them. I can’t run strong or lift heavy or take on the million tasks in my day if I neglect to care for myself in crucial ways.

I eat lots of veggies and fruit…rarely eat fast foods or refined/processed foods… lots of water.. minimal sugar. Overall, I make an attempt to eat well 95% of the time ( you do know I still like my occasional Peanut M&M fix 😉 and sometimes, yes, I do want to eat that burger out somewhere. I workout doing something 5-6 days a week and see my exercise as important as anything else I have to do.

It’s in the overall constant choices we make that matters.

How you eat doesn’t just fuel you for energy , but builds and strengthens all those internal things you don’t see but which are so vastly important to our overall health.

There is a huge truth then in….you are what you eat =)

How do you look at that? Have you ever given much thought to the fact, the foods we take in have a great impact on our internal health and wellness ? Have you had to make changes? How has that worked for you?

Lifestyle Change And New Habits

Oh snap dragon.

Before I launch into todays thoughts, I’ll do a quick update on my recovery run I mentioned in yesterdays post.

I did my own little 5k with the goal to go slow and easy and just enjoy the absolute thrill and joy of running again… to see how the heel felt and not push for anything heroic.

Is there anything better than feeling the road under your feet? Having the wind in your face? Getting all sweaty? Or hearing nothing but the sound of your breathing as you let your body do what it’s trained to do ?

I think not.

The cool, groovy, and overall awesome thing? the heel felt no better or worse than before the run. My plan is to alternate some easy runs with strength training and ease back into where I want to be.

Now… on with todays new stuff…..

An overarching theme I hear from people who are starting/want to start a lifestyle change is this… “there are so many things to consider, so many things to change!”

Yeah, I get it. The task can seem daunting, so daunting in fact, many people will give up before they really get started trying.

Making changes means building new habits, new behaviors, an overall rewiring of your brain and how you do things. It doesn’t happen overnight.

How I wish it was so easy! But if you don’t start somewhere, how are you gonna start ? So what if you flop and fail the first couple times ? I certainly did. So do many others.

Think of learning to ride a bike with no training wheels…. remember those lurching, wobbling attempts to keep your balance and not go careening into the bushes ? Worse yet, remember when you did ?

What did you do? Dragged that bike out and with the help of mom or dad, you got back on that thing again and you started over… and you kept at it till you were successful… till you could sail down the street like a demon with no hands.

Building new habits in our lives is a lot like that. You gotta keep after it, if you fall off, you get back up, and start again until it begins to feel natural to you.

It’s hard to let go of comfortable habits, especially when they are not so good health habits, many of which have been in place in our lives for a long time!

Instead of being overwhelmed at the prospect of thinking you must change everything all at once, why not make a list of things you want to change?

Be specific and most of all be honest and real with yourself. If you eat in front of the TV at night and know it’s a bad habit, put it down.

Make a list of “new” habits you want to build in your life.

Once you list habits you have in place and you want to change or add you can then focus on one at a time.

Wouldn’t it be way easier to attempt say, one a week ? Of course, if you’re an over achiever, you can always focus on more 😉

The goal of course, is to make slow steady changes that evolve into a “lifestyle change”… something that is permanent and lasting.

Do you have any specific things you’ve done to build new habits in your life ?

Childhood Obesity

children playing

So I’m gonna tackle a topic that might be a lil off my usual stuff, but one that is definitely in national attention as well as making local news stories too. It’s something I believe seriously needs addressed.

I promise to resume my normal athletic(y) antics soon 😉

Childhood obesity.

It affects 30% of children making it the most chronic disease of childhood. This number has tripled since 1980.

Childhood obesity is a health issue.

More children today are diagnosed with diabetes, hyper tension and other co-morbid conditions associated with obesity and morbid obesity.

Obesity is defined as more than 20% above the ideal weight for a particular height and age.

The physical complications can be great for over weight children.  Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep disorder, non-alcoholic liver disease, and early puberty or menstruation.

Besides the over arching problem of physical effects on these children, the social and emotional complications are huge. These children can often suffer from low self-esteem, bullying behavior, learning problems and depression.

The risk factors know no economic boundaries. Poor diet, lack of exercise, family factors, and socioeconomic  all can contribute to children being overweight.

I’m gonna play the bad guy for a second and break up this word.

Child…. the first part of childhood.  Meaning they are the children who are dependent upon the adult to provide food, provide boundaries and provide guidance.

Parents are the ones who shop for food and provide for their child. Good nutrition is so important, but often, parents feel they need to provide empty calorie snacks and drinks for their child. I’ve also watched in my world at times where the children have been allowed to eat unchecked with no reminder “you’ve had enough” or maybe ” 2 cookies is plenty” .

It’s really ok for parents to say “no” to kids when they’ve had enough. To teach proper portions. The “no” word isn’t just ok for  some things, it’s ok when it comes to teaching children balance and moderation on food too.

Children will eat what we bring into the home. If they don’t have junk food to graze on, they won’t eat it. Oh I’m not the totally evil mom, I do have cookies and treats, but when my kids were in school they were the weird ones who had water bottles in their lunch instead of “juice” boxes which are often no more than glorified high fructose flavored drinks.

Although my 23 yr old wandered in one day and proclaimed “when you stated getting all healthy the good stuff went away!” ha that’s not entirely true as I still make a mean batches of cookies 😉 but I really keep the snack foods to a minimum.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I grew up in a family with many family members being over weight. We were taught to clean our plates. I never made my kids do that, allowing them to eat till they were satisfied. My Mom flipped the first time I let my son leave the table with food still on his plate

I allowed them to learn and listen to their bodies natural signals. Alongside treats they learned about eating good foods too.

We teach our children so many things in life, shouldn’t  eating well should be at the top  of the list of what we teach them?

How do you help if you have an over weight child?

→ Improve daily diet making small gradual changes.

→ Offer water instead of sugary drinks.

→ Encourage exercise and outdoor activities.  Let your child brainstorm fun ways to exercise.

→ Focus on the entire family eating healthy and exercising.

→ Teach balance and moderation in eating. If your child is old enough, encourage them to read the labels, looking at serving size, and measuring it out to help them understand what that serving looks like.

→Offer rewards and treats that aren’t food related.

→ Allow them to have input on the types of healthy snacks and foods they want to try.

Encourage their efforts and keep the focus off numbers with the goal of being healthy and fit =)

Daniel And The Vegetable Den

veggiesOk… I hear you now getting ready to correct me. You’re thinking… “wait a sec Cathie, wasn’t it Daniel and the LIONS den?”

And yeah, you’re right, and I haven’t forgotten the story I learned as a child. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a story from the Bible where Daniel was miraculously saved from being devoured  as lunch after being thrown to the lions by the King… good people then….

Now don’t start twitching and worrying that I’m gonna preach or anything… I mean… I COULD… but it’s not where I’m going here.  Regardless of your personal view on the Bible I think we can all agree it does contain vast amounts of historical information…. and if you dig… some interesting tidbits to make you think. Thinking… is good…..

For example… this particular passage I’m using is known to me and I’ve thought for awhile about doing a blog on it. Recently, it’s come home to me that this passage is pretty relevant for our health and wellness today… which is why I’m using it to bounce off of.

I’ll try and keep this brief…. King Nebuchadnezzar took over Jerusalem. He requested that some children of Israel be brought to him, both of nobility and royalty to be trained to serve in the Kings palace. He then assigned to them  a daily portion of his rich and dainty food and of the wine he drank. They were to be educated and nourished for three years before they’d serve in the palace.

Enter Daniel…. one of the youth chosen to serve. I like Daniel… he had a mind of his own… he knew what he needed to do……. “But Daniel determined in his heart that he would not defile himself by eating the King’s rich and dainty food and drinking the wine he drank. He requested the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself”

Again, on a historical level, you must understand to Daniel, eating and drinking certain foods defiled him because they didn’t follow the dietary rules given by the Lord.

Can we pause on these words…. “rich and dainty foods” Now I don’t know about you, but if I applied those words to foods today it would be those things that are high in fat, or sugars, tasty treats and would be foods that make me fat and pasty looking…not to mention leave me feeling sluggish. Oh, and then toss in the wine and you’ve got some serious feeding going on… and the potential for lots of calories….

So Daniel… gets all bold…. which I totally dig…. he makes the request not to eat it… but the poor steward is all worried  and flat out tells him…. “I fear (the king) should see your faces worse looking or more sad than youths of your age….then you would endanger my head”

Check Daniels response…. ” I beg you, for ten days and let us be given a vegetable diet and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the ones eating the kings food be observed and compared by you and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

Daniel is able to convince the steward to go along with their experiment.

So what is the result at the end of ten days ? “at the end of ten days it was seen that they were better looking and had taken on more flesh than the youths who ate the kings rich dainties. SO the steward took away their rich dainties and wine and gave them vegetables.”

Just let that breathe over you for a moment….. the other guys were living the good life getting all the royal tasty foods and wines… then thanks to David and his entourage …. they get assigned the veggie diet.

I’m wondering if there was some grumbling in the ranks…. veggies and water. Actually, I’m pretty sure Daniel did them a favor.

I guess I’ve related to this story because I know how I look and feel eating more veggies, fruit, and water vs. other foods that aren’t as nutrient dense. You feel good, you look better, you’re giving your body real nutrient rich foods that shows in your appearance.

Now Daniels choice was based on his religious convictions and from what I’ve read based on the Old Testament food guidelines he would’ve been able to eat foods, besides veggies, that fit those guidelines.  This could’ve included fruits and nuts among other things. I’m not going to launch into all the possible dynamics of what he may or may not have eaten… the point is…. abstaining from rich indulgent foods and eating foods that are as close to natural has a positive effect on your body.

Get this… when I started doing a little research there are actually diets called the “Daniel Diet” or “Daniel Fast”. I don’t endorse any “diet” however, pursuing an eating plan that encourages lots of good healthy food isn’t a bad thing. (just don’t get dogmatic on it).

A couple years ago I was invited to participate in fitness  challenge for 3 months. Part of it involved doing a particular eating plan for 30 days. This plan encouraged lots of veggies, fruits, nuts/berries and some meat. No grains, dairy, pastas, beans etc. I found it to be very restrictive.

On the good side, I learned to eat veggies at ALL my meals and to experiment with new ones. I  leaned out pretty fast in that month. I liked how I felt eating more veggies.

And heck what other kind of foods can you eat wheelbarrow loads of for minimal calories ?? 😉 I’ve learned to cook them in all kinds of ways as well as just eating them raw in salads

Maybe you are ready for  your own 10 day challenge. That’s short enough to try something new and good you, right ? To see how it makes you feel ? Or maybe an experiment just to get you used to eating more veggies… to get on the right path.. You have nothing to lose and only improved health to gain, isn’t it worth a shot ?

The Ugly Truth About Fat

So as I pondered the blog I’m about to write it crossed my mind that it could fall into that realm of ” not politically correct” that seems to permeate our world today. You know, that place where you can’t or aren’t supposed to say anything or have an opinion on anything for fear of “offending” someone ? That if you speak out, someone might feel that you are bashing or tearing them down ?

Hear me… there’s a huge difference in speaking out in love/concern over being mean spirited and hateful.

Well! Now that I have your attention…. 😉 ( you’re pondering…where the heck is she going with this?)

I’m fixing to speak truth.

I’ll tell you…. I’m gonna talk about….. fat…. and the fact our country has an epidemic of it…. including our children… childhood obesity will have to hold for another post…

It’s not cool to mention fat. We live in this current world of not “shaming” and trying to make everyone feel ok and comfy when the reality is this…

Obesity increases the risk of many health conditions, including the following:

  • Coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Cancers, such as endometrial, breast, and colon cancer.
  • High total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides.
  • Liver and gallbladder disease.
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems.
  • Degeneration of cartilage and underlying bone within a joint (osteoarthritis).
  • Reproductive health complications such as infertility.
  • The high cost of healthcare for these diseases.

Hear me on this, fat isn’t bad. Our bodies need fat to protect our organs and give us energy as well as help with proper functioning of our nerves and brain, it helps to maintain healthy skin and other tissues.

Excess fat is what becomes bad. It puts extra stress and strain on our knees, hips and other joints. Internally, our heart and lungs have to work harder to carry the extra weight. On a practical level…. daily tasks can be harder and take more energy and that can leave you tired.

I feel I have a platform to speak on this. I’ve not always been athletic, had muscles or worried overly about what food I ate. If you’ve known me for awhile, then you’ve seen me at varying sizes, however, so many of you are new to following me you might assume I’ve always been into running/fitness. Not true.

20150423_080047-1
April 2007, Senior pics with my first born who was getting ready to graduate. This was a rather unplanned pic that the photographer took of us. I love it ’cause I’m with him. I was not “unhappy” with myself? But It was one of those moments where I once again was reminded…. “you could drop a few pounds”. 7 months later I began my journey and never looked back.

My grandmother and mom were considered morbidly obese… not a pretty term….but sadly true. I’m the age my grandmother was when she had her first heart attack. She had not only heart issues but diabetes and other health related problems. She eventually died of congestive heart failure.

My mom nearly died one Easter of undiagnosed diabetes. Her blood sugar level was something like 960.  If you know your numbers then you know… that is out of the world high. Somehow though, she pulled through that. She also had high blood pressure and dealt with many other issues including loss of both kidneys,  2 transplants, and later in the past few years, life of dialysis and never ending doctor appointments. Because of diabetes complications, she eventually had toes and parts of her foot removed. All of these things directly related to her being so overweight. Oh, she did have surgery a number of years ago and lost a lot of weight and was quite small when she passed away…. but all the damage had been done.

I lost her a year ago tomorrow.

My grief is neatly packed away on some levels and there is a blog waiting to come out…. someday….. but I digress….

It’s an ugly truth we don’t want to confront in ourselves or in this world today. Fat can be deadly and take a huge toll on our health and quality of life. But we don’t want anyone to feel bad so we act like it’s all ok…. again…  this isn’t about treating anyone poorly…. it’s about offering love and support.

7 years ago I started my journey after kindly being confronted by my doctor… or perhaps challenged is a better word… to consider losing some weight. Pointing out basically, I was healthy, but could stand to lose a few pounds. Well, honestly, I went on to lose more than a few, about 55 actually. Not to mention who knows how many inches, and about 6 pant sizes.

Photo0729
At one point, I couldn’t wear these pants. I guess I still can’t wear them 😉                                                                     

Photo0732

I remember the first night I went out for a walk ( begrudgingly I might add) I had to deal head on and face to face with the reality. I was 43 at the time…. did I want my life potentially to be like my mom and grandmother? Was I going to let food dictate and control my life? Or was I going to make changes?

That…. was when my fitness journey began.

I will always remember taking in the December 2012 edition of Runners World to show my doctor. I had been one of 22 selected out of over 400 submissions to be shown in their “Runners Body”  feature. I asked him if a few years ago when I first came in would he have thought I’d have been in such a magazine ?

20121030_223227
My feature page from Runners World Body Edition

He was in tears…..his words….. “I tell people all the time, they usually don’t  listen. I’m proud of you”

So yeah, I feel like I can speak to this topic on too many personal levels.

Yet, losing even 10lbs can lower blood pressure, help reduce knee and hip pain and help to lower blood sugars. Not to mention, it can make you feel awesome for doing it =) Oh yeah, what about increased energy as you lose weight ?

The most important thing ? Get started.

→ Set small realistic goals

→ Include daily purposeful exercise

→ Remember even when you don’t see big “losses” that things are happening inside you too.

→ Enlist help or a support team

→ Aim to eat healthy nutritious food 95% of the time.

→ Allow for an occasional treat but don’t reward yourself with food.

→ Don’t quit. Slow and steady wins the race.

→Progress pics aren’t vain…. they can remind you how far you’ve come….. take them =)

You ultimately are the only one who can take control of your health and wellness. If you are in a good place perhaps you need to be encouragement to someone on their journey…support goes a long way! Most of all, consider what you do an investment in your quality of life… you’re more than worth it!

Another Drink Bartender

Flaming_cocktails

I know with my title I just picked up some new readers 😉

Let me make my usual disclaimer that the thoughts and opinions contained within are merely, my thoughts and opinions, and you my lovely reader, are entitled to yours as well.

I thought I’d chat a bit on alcohol. Alcohol, a substance loved and used by many, a substance that I personally don’t  use or care for.

Now please stick with me, this does have a health/fitness bend to it and I want you to know I don’t come at this topic from an overly zealous religious stand point, or any other wild angle.

I simply don’t like the stuff.

(Yeah, I heard some of you gasp) primarily, I don’t like what it would do to my body physically… nor do I consider it to be something that supports my health and fitness goals. I used to feel kinda awkward saying that to someone ( I don’t drink)  especially in this day in age where it’s so common. I totally got over that 😉

Oh don’t get me wrong, years ago, a lifetime ago, I tried to be a cool kid.

I mean, isn’t that what you do? I tried to like it, I did.

But then, without ingesting to much of the stuff I’d get all warm, and fuzzy, and wanna lean into something…or take a nap… I didn’t find that fun at all. And perhaps you’re saying….but that’s the good part! Ah, maybe so, but I didn’t like it.

The biggest thing I didn’t like ?  The idea of giving up control of myself to a substance.  No thank you.

Control freak? Perhaps, but that is definitely something I can call the um…shots… on… 😉

Not just that, but within personal circles, I’ve never, ever seen anything good come from it. I have seen it damage relationships, and health, and turn otherwise pleasant events, unattractive. Again, that’s not a selling point for me.

No judgment here… if you choose to… that is your choice….. just like choosing not to is mine.

Now from a health and weight loss perspective.

If you are on a quest to drop some weight and adult beverages are a key part of your life, you might examine more closely the calories that it contributes to your day.

Consider this : Alcohol has a relatively high caloric content (7 kcal/g) only fat has more calories per gram ( 9)  if you’re watching your weight you might want to know that a serving of wine is about 100 calories, beer about 150 and a typical Margarita is over 300 calories!

Also, unlike solid foods, alcoholic beverages fail to trigger the “fullness” response. It’s not surprising that regular consumption does make it difficult to avoid weight gain. Alcohol might also reduce inhibitions leading you to over eat.

You could see that daily consumption of alcohol, with more than a drink , can add unwanted calories, which can lead to extra weight gain.

On a health perspective : the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises… “those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation- defined as consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.”

Also important to note, on average, a healthy adult metabolizes the equivalent of one drink per hour. If someone drinks more than that, such as two or three alcoholic drinks in an hour, the liver is unable to “keep up”. The excess alcohol is released back into the bloodstream, through which it’s distributed to all body fluids and tissues, including the brain. Anytime you consume more than one alcoholic beverage per hour, you are exposing every tissue in your body to the toxic effects of alcohol.

Again, that sort of thing doesn’t support my health or fitness goals…. and if you’re looking to get on a healthier lifestyle, it won’t support your goals either.

Obviously, the more alcohol consumed can also contribute to other health related problems, or more serious alcohol issues. If you choose to drink, be educated and wise about the effects it can have on your health, and if you are focused on serious weight loss consider how alcohol might be slowing your efforts to success.

Crossing the (Diet) Bridge

800px-Cross-country_skiing_bridge,_Mittagskogel

 

I have two special friends, male and female, who have been extremely successful in their quest to lose weight and get into living a healthy lifestyle.  Like myself, they have done it the plain old fashioned way of taking it slow and steady, losing weight and allowing their minds to be transformed along with their shrinking bodies. They have had good days and bad on their journeys to get where they are now. Nothing happened over night, but it did happen.

Now a much, much slimmer version of their former selves they have learned skills along their journey to stay successful. Eating better, eating less, building in their favorite “treats”, exercise and a positive attitude. These things all contribute to  permanent success.

As things go in life, all of our paths have intersected and I now have enjoyable relationships with each of these people.

I found it interesting that in totally separate conversations, they voiced to me what I’ve often pondered myself on this journey.

“Why do some people get started and quit? Why do some start, re-start and start again and then something happens and it “takes”?”

All three of us have used the illustration of crossing over the bridge. Funny, because we each had this same thought and shared it within our conversations.

Maybe, perhaps, because we get it.

I think most people would agree, it’s fairly easy to put weight on, but requires a lot more from us to remove it.

Discipline to say “no” to things we want to eat. Discipline to pass on seconds, or foods we know won’t best support our health and wellness goals. Sacrifice to make room in our schedules for exercise or to get up earlier. Dedication to a new way of living that at first feels unfamiliar, foreign, and down right uncomfortable.  Willingness to finally get real with who we are, where we are and how we got there. Not to mention a certain amount of tenaciousness to hold onto wanting to be successful like a bulldog with a favorite toy.

You see that ? All those things, they start in your head.

Discipline.

Sacrifice.

Dedication.

Willingness.

We tend to think of weight loss as just a body thing….” I’ll just stop eating to much and lose weight and it will all be fine”  without realizing the huge part our minds play in the process of truly becoming successful.

Why do you think people who are going to undergo major weight loss surgeries are encouraged to go to counseling classes to help them process not just weight loss but what will be required of them from a nutritional stand point? Sadly, so many of these will go back to gaining all that weight again because even though their bodies  are changing, their minds haven’t made a connection to a new way of living, they are still thinking about all the food that got them to that point in the first place and wanting to eat in the same ways.

Like many others, they will not have “crossed over the bridge”.

It’s that place where it all connects together and you understand exactly what has to be done, that it will be a process, and you simply settle in for the journey. You take a single day at a time. You strive to make the best choices (nutritionally) you can. You stop viewing eating good foods as a form of punishment. Exercise becomes just as valuable as brushing your teeth each day. You allow your body to slowly and steadily go through the losing part just like it did the gaining part. You get that there will be days that will bomb and you dust off and keep going.

You love yourself on the journey.

The journey, that crosses you over the bridge into freedom and into a new way of living.

A permanent lifestyle change. Welcome to the other side.

Cookie Cutter Diets Part 3

20150331_081917

Diet, diet, diet.

That’s all that can often consume our minds when we’ve got some weight to lose, isn’t it ? Which one to do ? Which might offer the biggest bang for our time and investment of energies and most of all yield the biggest rewards?

As you read in part two of my series, sometimes the idea of starting a diet was a better idea than well, actually DOING the diet. And the best part was when I painfully struggled to the end and cried “Uncle” when I  finished… or when the diet finished me…. whichever came first.

Losing weight isn’t easy. It requires work and sacrifice and determination to make it happen.

Often though we go about it by trying to fit into a plan that isn’t made or designed for us. We try to adapt and follow a set of rules someone else has made with food choices they have selected and we try and be good and make it work…. we do. Some of us might be successful, but for the most, it’s a reverting back to our old ways of what we know, and what we eat.

What if perhaps, there was something that was more made for us as … gasp… individuals ? Something that took in to account our unique likes and food preferences ? Could we, maybe then, have success ?

When I started on my health and fitness journey, there was one thing I determined early on.  I was not going to make any food “off limits”. I understood that I was an adult and quiet capable of controlling myself and not splurging on the whole carton of ice cream.  Somehow doing that took the power out of those foods. Knowing they were still there IF I wanted them seemed to put them in a proper place. No one was taking anything away from me. I could completely have that chocolate shake….. if I wanted it.

Now I was in control. Those foods were there but I didn’t have to eat them.

Imagine my delight years later finding out that even high level fitness trainers didn’t restrict themselves from occasional treats.  If I had a moment I wanted something, I allowed myself a little, and moved on. Doing that didn’t cause binging or make me feel deprived or majorly crater my day…. and I moved along like that every single day.

Along the way I’ve learned that my body has specific caloric needs to sustain life AND specific needs for my athletic life. Every single day can be different depending on what I’m doing.

You, my faithful reader, are no different. If you’ve done your homework from the past two parts of my series, you’ve assessed the WHY of wanting to lose weight, and you were also to consider your daily life and activities as well as foods you enjoy eating. You will have set out some short and long term goals for your journey.

Because now you’ll need to figure the calories YOU personally need on a daily basis to do the things you’ve listed.

How? You might ask ? We’re gonna use a calculator to help determine your needs for daily living and any purposeful exercise. Be honest with yourself. If you don’t do any physical activity (yet) don’t plug in that you are moderately active. I’ve found the link below very helpful for figuring my daily caloric needs

http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/

Calculating your caloric requirement will then allow you to build your own nutrition plan based on your daily needs.

To lose weight, take your total daily number and reduce by 20%.

Keeping a food log for a few weeks will help you assess where your strengths and weaknesses are. What nutritional dense foods do you eat ?  What is more empty calories? What do you need to let go of ? Where can you make improvements ?

I think it’s also important to think about that “thing” or two that you absolutely love and build a small portion of that into your weekly plan. If you don’t want it, fine. But if you have a craving, allow yourself and move on.

With practice you will begin to figure out what foods you can eat and stay within your daily calorie intake. Don’t get all crazy and think you have to keep it an exact science.

The goal is to build a sustainable plan you can keep at day in and day out and steadily, consistently lose weight. Enjoy foods you like while making intentional changes to remove or reduce foods that are not as nutritionally beneficial.

In time you will train your body to want healthier foods making it easier to maintain your new lifestyle =)