Progress And Improvements

It seems when it comes to the subject and actuality of weight loss and health improvements there is a common thought that it should be big, bold, and dramatic to be counted as worthy and notable.

What? You only lost one pound this week?

Throw in the towel.

Have you ever seen one pound of fat? You may rethink that idea.

progress

Yet, we approach our attempts to lose weight and get healthy like that, we dismiss the seemingly not so important looking for something bigger and more grand.

We want that dramatic 5lbs gone in one week like the ad on social media promised. We want to be able to run faster and longer after just a month of starting to run. We think we can lift heavy like the guy at the gym ( only he’s been at it for a lot longer so he can lift more than you)

Stop being dramatic

I really write that in a joking way, but really, stop looking for the big and dramatic as “proof” there’s something going on for all your efforts.

When you or I or anyone decide we are going to take steps to start changing our lives, our bodies, or our mindsets, it will take time.

You don’t want some of those “instant” results. They just don’t last.

Progress IS progress.

Why have we been trained to think if we don’t always have big impressive things going on, it’s not worth our effort?

I was out on a ride a few weeks ago thinking about how I have to work my way back up to a level that I had last year before the duathlon. Sometimes I think it’s “unfair” that if I back off ( as I have to at a point ’cause I can’t stay in peak forever ) that I have to begin to build back up to that level of fitness again.

Like, why can’t it just permanently stick?

Ok in all fairness, even in my not “peak” condition, I still have a higher level of physical fitness than someone who doesn’t work out, but I also have tons of room for progress and improvements in my game.

This was brought to my mind a few days ago in a new way as I took on a fairly huge hill, scaling it quickly and barely being out of breath that I had made progress since I started getting back at it a little over a month ago.

Building up your fitness level takes time, consistency, and uh, some more time.

Trust me, I took a brief moment to celebrate that victory at the top before I was plunged down the backside of that hill at full speed, before I turned around to head back up.

I was making progress.

The self improvement game

Maybe my progress is more than you want to think about or nothing you’d ever do. But you’re still gonna have ways of assessing how you are doing when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

We need to stop dismissing small victories as if they are nothing, when the reality is, they lead to larger victories.

Trust me, it took lots of smaller hills and lots more miles before I got to the point I am today.

If you start to focus and pay attention to those small things you will not only feel more grateful for what you are doing but you will appreciate reaching the bigger goal even more when you get there.

It’s such a journey for me to mentally look back at what I’ve had to do, to get to where I am today. I can see those smaller things so much more clearly as learning opportunities.

As you move forward whether it’s a process of losing weight, training for an event, or just wanting to be able to do something new on your own, be aware of those small steps leading you there.

What does progress look like ?

Each of us could answer that in a hundred different ways.  But overall, progress should involve a forward movement towards our specific goal.

Let’s consider losing weight. Setting aside the scale, or clothes fitting looser, which is everyone’s overall idea of “success” and “progress”.

Maybe there are other areas you haven’t considered….

Have you learned to listen to your body better and eat when you’re hungry and not just bored?

Or learned to eat enough to satisfy you without being self indulgent?

Did you bypass the fast food place on the way home for a “snack”?

What about making better food choices over poor ones you used to have?

Are you learning to speak kindly to yourself if you are used to speaking negative self talk?

Have you learned more to value and appreciate your body even if you don’t like something about it?

Do you celebrate more moments of self awareness and stopping yourself from impulsive choices?

Can you step on the scale and see a pound lost and celebrate that as being a bit closer to losing a 5 lb. goal?

Have you let go of old, tired food “rules” and “guilt” to embrace living and enjoying life, which also has food as a part of it?

Have you learned to see food as, food? And not label it “good” or “bad”?

What about in the ways of physical fitness?

If you couldn’t even get the desire to get off the sofa before but now you are at least going for an evening walk, do you see that as progress?

Do you see overcoming obstacles that challenge you and you push through as progress?

If you could hardly walk a mile when you started but now are doing 3 and considering signing up for your first 5K, well yeah, I seriously hope you see that as… progress 😉

Do you do strength training? Can you lift things now that used to feel like you could barely squeak out 5 reps before you fell apart?

Do you feel stronger?

Can you lift more, go longer, push through things you previously didn’t?

You my friend, are making progress.

Of course we don’t want to dismiss things like…

good lab results at the doctor as evidence of changes going on in you from the choices you’ve been making.

Or the fact you have better mental clarity, feel less anxious, are more focused and perhaps are sleeping better because of choices you’ve made.

Perhaps you’ve gotten your relationship with food in order. Maybe now you have it in the proper place it belongs and you call the shots, not food.

And ok, yeah, it is cool when you’re jeans get looser, let’s be honest.

So many things we do are actual steps to progress and improvement with our health and fitness. We just need to learn to appreciate them and not minimize them as not as important as “just” losing weight.

If we take a careful look at all we do, it can encourage us to continue to press on in our journeys and not become weary and frustrated and make the ( not best) choice to give up and go back to our old, unproductive, unhealthy ways.

Choose to see progress and not instant results. It will make your journey far more enjoyable.

Tell me. Do you look for progress in yourself, or do you want to jump right to the end results quickly?

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Common Myths of Health And Fitness

fiitmytsjs

 

Hello world! Yeah I know, no Monday Musings yesterday. I had nothing to muse over. Well not entirely it was more like a busy weekend and it just didn’t happen. But if you wanna read some of the past ones, find some here.

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/09/monday-musings-18/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/25/monday-musings-16/

The life of writing involves making myself sit and be still and grind it out when I’d rather be up and moving. If there were only a way to do other stuff AND dictate my posts while doing it, that would be awesome 🙂

Anyway I thought we’d talk today about some common myths in regards to fitness and health. I heard something this past week that got me to thinking and I was gonna give it a nod in my Monday Musings but decided there was enough fodder for it to have an entire post of it’s own.

Let’s face it, in the world of health and fitness there’s a lot of things that aren’t true yet people unknowingly buy into them all the time.

Let’s consider a few in this post….

Feel the burn.

I’ve seen this quite a bit lately in different places. The whole “feel the burn” thing in regards to working out.

Now I’m not sure about you, but if something feels like it’s burning during a workout, I’m fairly sure that’s not a good thing.

Feeling a burn could indicate you have over done something or doing more than your body is physically conditioned for at that point.

This is not the same as just working hard in a session and pushing yourself within your current physical conditioning. Our bodies require time to change and adapt to what we put them through, this doesn’t happen overnight or in a few sessions when you feel like you’ve got your “beast mode” on.

If something feels like it’s burning, you really need to stop and not go to that point anymore lest you pick up and injury that sidelines you for awhile.

A gradual, consistent approach that continues to build will let you work harder and longer with less risk for injuries.

FitnessMyth1

The longer you workout or the more you do in a day the better

You might mentally think you are doing something great but really unless you’re an elite athlete getting in some extra work you are simply setting yourself up for potential injury and at best being over tired, sore and not feeling great after the fact.

Stick to a structured daily workout plan, give it your best efforts and call it a wrap. Think quality over quantity.  If you need to do other things consider yoga or stretching to help keep those worked muscles relaxed and loose for your next workout session.

You get no extra gold stars for excess workouts. 😉fitness myth

I’ve gained weight but I know it’s muscle.

I’ve heard this when someone has been working out for like…6-8 weeks. Building muscle is work, hard work. If you’re a woman, it gets even harder. We often don’t lift heavy enough, or often enough and eat enough to build muscle in that fast of a manner. It has taken me time to build muscle, years. Although cycling and running have contributed to my muscle building, I do specific weight lifting a couple times a week alongside that.

If you want to build muscle it will take time, determination, consistency and good nutrition. Did I mention time ?

If you’re gaining weight that early on, you might be eating more than you need so adjust your calorie intake.

fitness myth 2

I’m skipping breakfast because I want to lose weight.

Do you know that breakfast really is the most important meal of your day? Your body has been fasting for hours ( think your last meal the night before) eating properly helps kick start your metabolism for the day, wards off  hunger and helps prevent binging later on when you are full blown hungry.  It will also give you energy for your morning. Not only that having proper fuel helps you to be focused and alert, without it you can be irritable and grouchy. Skipping breakfast won’t contribute to weight loss, but it will keep you hungry and focused on food.

It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, but one that is healthy and offers adequate protein and carbs to fuel your body and brain.

Eating lots of protein gives you more muscle.

Listen, I’m always one who will preach eating protein to you ’cause it delivers a big bang for keeping you from feeling hungry for long periods of time. Your body needs protein to build muscles and grow cells and hair and nails and all that other cool physical stuff. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues.

However, when it comes to fat loss and a better body, protein is the king of nutrients. Protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism.

But in the often misguided fitness world, the more is better approach is often heralded as the way to do things.

Yes, you need adequate protein. Yes, if you are athletic you need more than the average sedentary person, but consuming high amounts won’t necessarily put Popeye muscles on you.

Why? Our bodies know what they need and the amounts needed and can only ingest 12-15 grams per meal.  At a point, the excess protein is excreted or stored as fat if it’s surplus calories.

Building muscle is a combination (again) of consistent hard work, daily discipline, lifting heavy and good nutrition.

Not massive quantities of protein.

Try and consume your protein from natural food sources and limit manmade protein drinks, shakes, powders, bars, supplements etc etc.

The 1200 calorie diet.

Ah yes. The standard caloric intake often given to women. Men do get a bit more but it’s just as limiting.

It still amazes me that these standard diets are often assigned to people without any given consideration to their personal needs.

Eating to low amount of calories is just as counterproductive as to many.

If you are seeking to lose weight you need to have a good understanding of yourself, your lifestyle, and your physical level of activity.

All of us have a basic level of calories our bodies need to just be alive. That means to support a beating heart, brain activity, cell growth, breathing… you know.. just the normal things. Our basic BMR ( basal metabolic rate) will be different for all of us again based on our age, sex, fitness level, jobs etc.

Try this calculator for your estimate…. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm

It’s important you know what you’re baseline is and not eat calories under that.

From there, you would determine what kind of work do you do? Is it physically demanding or is it a desk job? What kind of purposeful exercise do you do? None? Light ( 1-2 days a week) moderate (3-5) or more intense (6-7)?

All of these things come into play determining your daily caloric needs. And this can be a shifting scale most days.

For instance, I know on my long training days, I’ll be burning off a lot of calories and making my body work hard. I know I’ll have higher caloric needs based on my day in general, as well as my purposeful exercise. I know I can consume more calories on those days over days where I might just run a 5K that morning to where I don’t really alter my normal eating.

I am aware that on any given day I may need more or less calories depending on my activity level.

When you have a better idea of your personal needs, you can determine the calories you need to lose weight, or maintain your weight.

Eating a big meal makes you gain weight.

OK this is one that for sure comes up around Thanksgiving.  For some crazy reason people go hop on a scale the day after.

Like… why?  Do you just wanna feel crappy for enjoying your day?

Listen up, if you show a gain, it’s not fat ok? You aren’t gonna toss on 2-4 pounds of fat overnight.

Yes, the scale *could* show a gain but I’m gonna just say it’s most likely water weight from all those carbs you took in the day before from potatoes, rolls, dressing, pies etc.

Carbs, if you don’t know this, are like little sponges that hold onto water. Why do you think body builders restrict carbs when they are close to competition? To deplete water out of their muscles.

I would suggest if you go back to your normal eating, getting normal exercise and check again in a couple days, you’ll have weight *loss*.

To stay in shape you only need one or two days a week.

Sorry. That might clear your head or give you a quick burst of energy but it won’t get you in shape or help with any weight loss goals.

Ideally, you should really strive to workout most days of the week for optimal health benefits.

Start with a couple days but aim to get in at least 5-6.

You can crunch your way to good abs.

Sorry… but no.  I cringe when I hear people talking about doing crunches and dutifully going through the motions. The reality is it’s an ineffective way to get those abs. Instead you should be doing things in a combination of interval training, utilizing carbs wisely, getting adequate sleep and keeping stress levels low. Of course the right training moves help too. Moves like squats, deadlifts, and chin ups can contribute to that shaped mid section.

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Want a great looking mid section? Incorporate exercises that work all of these “ab” muscles.

I’m eating healthy, I will lose weight.

Truth is…. you will lose weight if you take in less calories than you need in a day and create a deficit.  Yes, eating healthy foods is definitely what you should strive to have in your day, but if you eat to much of anything your body will take what it needs and store the rest for fat.

Eat healthy, focus on eating just enough to satisfy your hunger, and then move on with your day.  Don’t get caught in the thinking you are going to lose weight if you have no idea of your calorie consumption in the day.

Be mindful of another “trap” by drinking “healthy” liquid calories in the trendy shakes and smoothies. The calories are often astronomical in it and you’d do better eating regular food.

My son used to get a smoothie from a local place. He asked me to stop and get him one and bring it to work. Me being me, I’m standing there picking apart menu and code words that still mean sugar no matter how you try and gloss it over ( good publicity makes you feel like you’re doing yourself a healthy favor) I found the one I was buying for him and almost fainted when I saw it had nearly 1,200 calories in it.  True, it was a large one, but still, that is an obscene amount of calories for something that is being promoted as “healthy” it is close to exceeding daily caloric intake.

When I told him he was shocked and stopped buying them.

Working out will turn fat into muscle.

No. You have fat and you have muscle. You can’t make one be the other. You can lose fat and you will be able to see your muscles better but you won’t turn your excess fat into muscle nor will muscle turn into fat.

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Oh and another myth I’ll put in here that ties in, my favorite, muscle weighs more than fat. ( a way to justify weight gain)

No.

5lbs is still 5lbs. muscle however, is sleek, compact and lean and fat is thick, bulky and fluffy. Having more muscle under your skin gives that “toned” look people always go on about. Toned is a weird way of saying you have some muscle holding your skin out.

And that’s about all I have to say on that topic 😉

I guess I could keep on with other points but I need to bring it to and end.  If you are unsure of something in regards to health and fitness, find credible sources to gain information. Don’t go by what the bulky dude at the gym does or the girl in the yoga pants tells you to eat. Educate yourself on things so you can make the best choices for you.

Tell me, are there some myths you’ve heard that people believe in?

No Exercise Required

It was early morning and I was still bleary eyed, sipping on my first wonderful cup of hot coffee slowly coming to life.

For the record I’m not “anti” morning. I mean most weeks I’m out on the road running or cycling while people are still crawling outta bed. On the other hand, I may just prefer to cuddle and be alone with my coffee for a bit till the fog clears my head 😉

I am more of strong night owl if I had to label myself … anyway…

I’m waking up, laptop in front of me as I do a final read through and edit on my post before launching it into the world and blog land.  I do my level best to make sure you, my faithful readers, don’t stumble through to much of my ramblings haha

And can I take a moment to say thank you?

However, you follow me, whether through e-mail, Facebook, IG, Pinterest or on WordPress, thank you for taking your time to read what I write.  I know our time is valuable and I appreciate you taking yours to read my offerings.

I will always attempt to make it worth your while, to keep it sassy, and hopefully to educate, inspire, or challenge you.

Now, where was I?

Waking up, drinking coffee and proofing my post… yes that’s where I was. So while I’m doing that, the morning news is on and the morning commercials.

Sweet heavens.

It must be the cheapest time of day to advertise ’cause obnoxious car sale ads are on along with ads for medical clinics, lawyers and all kinds of other services I can do without hearing about that early in morning.

All of them are so… loud. So very, very loud.

Anyway, this weight loss commercial comes on advertising how you can lose weight with some miracle something or another and “no exercise required!!”

I guess that’s where my still sleepy, yet slowly coming alive brain kicked in.

I thought, how is that a good selling point ? But then I realized, to a lot of people, that IS a good selling point.

Lose weight and you don’t have to exercise? Heck yeah.

I get it. Exercise is work. If you do it right, it’s hard work.

Of course, if you’re out of shape it really feels like hard work. Your heart and lungs are screaming at you and you get all red and you are breathing way to hard so of course a weight loss offer of no exercise might seem like a good deal.

oxygen

 

It’s just not.

Let’s just forget losing weight here as we discuss this. Really, exercise shouldn’t be what you do to lose weight, it’s really what you put in your mouth and how much of it that matters more.  Exercise can just support those efforts.

Exercise offers so much more to us than being a weight loss tool. Think about how you feel when you leave your house on a nice evening to go for a short walk. Chances are it gives you time to think, clear your head from the day, brain storm ideas, and just unwind a bit. When you come back in you probably feel rejuvenated and refreshed, even if you may be sweaty 😉

In time, you most likely will want to walk a bit further as you start to really enjoy it and look forward to it.

Maybe going to a yoga class let’s you feel more connected to yourself, makes you more aware of your body.  For me, yoga definitely slows me down, but it also let’s me have some time that is a bit more quiet and reflective.

Whatever activity you may enjoy, if you get started in it, you will most likely enjoy many benefits that have nothing to do with losing weight.

heart cardio
Remember, your heart is a muscle that needs work too 😉

 

 

So…get this…..

Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.  Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.

Jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30 minutes can blow off tension by increasing levels of “soothing” brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. What’s fascinating, though, is that exercise may actually work on a cellular level to reverse stress’s toll on our aging process. according to a 2010 study from the University of California—San Francisco. The researchers found that stressed-out women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed and inactive. Working out also helps keep us from ruminating “by altering blood flow to those areas in the brain involved in triggering us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again.

I wrote a post on exercise and aging… find it here….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/05/24/exercise-and-aging/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/24/aging-and-the-fountain-of-youth/

It can help with depression. Research suggests that burning off 350 calories three times a week through sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as antidepressants. That may be because exercise appears to stimulate the growth of neurons in certain brain regions damaged by depression.

Exercise can improve our learning. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals called growth factors, which help make new brain cells and establish new connections between brain cells to help us learn. Interestingly, complicated activities, like playing tennis or taking a dance class, provide the biggest brain boost. You’re challenging your brain even more when you have to think about coordination. Like muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow.

It improves self-esteem and body image. You don’t need to radically change your body shape to get a confidence surge from exercise. Studies suggest that simply seeing fitness improvements, like running a faster mile or lifting more weight than before, can improve your self-esteem and body image.

It may keep Alzheimers from setting in. The Alzheimer’s Research Center touts exercise as one of the best weapons against the disease. Exercise appears to protect the hippocampus, which governs memory and spatial navigation, and is one of the first brain regions to succumb to Alzheimer’s-related damage.

Is that enough evidence for exercise?

Those are some pretty convicting reasons to exercise, right? Yet not a single one of them have to do with losing weight. The point being, exercise benefits all of our body, soul and spirit.

Exercise is a good tool to help with weight loss but as you’ve seen it offers so many more benefits to keep us healthy and whole.

It shouldn’t be viewed as something you don’t “need”. Our bodies are made for and are designed for, movement.  So many of our modern day illnesses and health issues could be helped and improved with regular consistent exercise.

What exercise has taught me

ok admittedly, a few years ago when I was an out of shape middle aged woman, I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of vigorous daily exercise. As I mentioned earlier in this post, it’s hard, and it’s really hard when you’ve been doing nothing and  then start doing “something”.

I purposefully made myself go walk each day. I dutifully walked 2 miles. I did it no matter what was going on, some days I had to fit it in at different times, but I did it.

I did it enough it turned into a new habit.  One day I got brave and actually went farther. One mile turned into another, before I knew it I was running some, and then, well the rest is history…

Exercise was certainly a good discipline tool. Those scheduled daily times on the road disciplined me to getting up and making a commitment to something.

That discipline eventually carried over into other areas of my life.

When I trained for my first marathon I learned a lot more about discipline, sacrifice, and some serious hard work. Honestly, once you run a marathon ( I actually went on to do more and eventually in 2014, a 50k) you develop the feeling and attitude you can take on the world.

I learned more about concrete goal setting, short and long term.

Exercise has built my confidence in what I can do and what I’m capable of doing.  This translates far beyond what I do on  the road.

The more I’ve grown athletically, the more I’ve seen that transfer into my daily life.

Becoming mentally strong dealing with physically activity has given me a tough mind in dealing with life.

I shared in a recent post about my yearly check up with my doctor.  My HDL ( good cholesterol ) was 75 on the lab report. It should be mentioned the highest number they had as “good” was 39. My doctor just gave me a level look and said… “it’s from all that exercise you do”.   So exercise is good for stuff like that 😉

I’ve also learned I can do some of my most creative thinking out on the road. It’s a time to process, discard, think and get clarity.

It’s taught me to get out of my head, get out of my way, so I can see what I’m made of.  I’ve learned I have strength I didn’t know I possessed, mentally and physically

Oh yeah. and somehow along the way of learning that, I lost weight and got decently fit.

So yeah, you do need to exercise

So if you’re one of the “anti-exercisers” 😉 I hope I’ve given you something different to think on.  Find something you enjoy and want to do, then commit to getting good at it. DO it often enough and frequently enough and it will turn into a habit, a good one at that.

And then, before you know it, you too will have lost some weight and be getting decently fit too.

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I love and anticipate my workouts now, physically and mentally.

 

Your turn… tell me… do you wish you didn’t “have” to exercise? Do you wish you could lose weight and get all the benefits without doing it, or are you at a place where you love it and would miss it? Have you ever considered exercise as beneficial to you in ways besides helping with weight loss?

Food And Dysfunctional Thinking

You don’t have to read to far, turn on the tv, or surf the web to see statements like this screaming at you…..

“Grains are bad for you!”, “Bread is bad for you”, “Dairy is bad for you”, ” Sugar is the devil and will kill you”, ” Starches are bad for you”, “Carbs are bad for you”, “Detox your body from poisons (bad foods)”, “Do a “cleanse” to help your body”, “You have to be hungry to lose weight”, “You can’t lose weight unless you cut out “these” foods” “You must only eat organic foods”, “You must eat only pricey beef or other foods” ( for the best health) “Skipping meals will help you lose weight”, “You need to do this “diet” to lose weight and be successful” “I ate to much yesterday so I need to workout really hard today to take away those calories” (as if)  “Gluten free!”  “Fat free!” …..

food good or bad
Truth.

 

 

Oh, I could go on but I won’t ’cause I want you to stay with me.

You get it. You’ve heard it.

So many times when I hear these things, I roll my eyes. I can’t help it, when I hear nonsense, it kinda just happens.

My mom used to yell at me when I did if for something she said… haha

What on earth has happened to us that we buy into and believe such dysfunctional  thinking with food and our bodies? Why are we made to feel bad or guilty for eating food and satisfying a natural hunger?  Why are we taught food is bad? Why do we believe foods are “bad”?  How do some learn to obsess over everything they eat and feel bad for it?  How do we develop this dysfunctional thinking ?

Worse yet, why do we follow along with an ideology or a certain camp of thinking, especially if it’s the current trendy thing to do, or our friends are doing it?

Sometimes, maybe we are a bit like sheep, eh?

First things first.

I want to address the fact that for some people, on a completely legit level, may have particular food allergies that necessitate removing particular foods. There are a small percentage of people who truly have celiac disease and have to live a gluten free life. Some may have experimented and realized maybe they feel better without certain foods than having them.

Real food issues that involve real health issues are important and need care and attention.

This is not what I’m addressing here.

Now that issue is settled….

Food isn’t bad for you.

Seriously. Food isn’t bad. Saying something is “bad” for you is  more disordered thinking of the world we live in and the lies we’ve bought into.

We’ve bought into feeling guilty over food. We’ve bought into thinking we should feel bad about what we eat. We’ve been taught we have to obsess over calories and most of all, there has to be a level of suffering involved with losing weight and how much food we get. We’ve been told if we eat, we’ll get fat so we learn to deprive ourselves and be miserable.

diet cycle
How dysfunctional thinking begins

 

 

Where has such wrong thinking come from?

Yes, many foods do not provide the best nutritional quality for your body. Having a soda over a glass of ice water is hardly a good nutritional choice. But if you only have one when you eat pizza and you have pizza maybe once a month, then it’s really not a big deal.

Daily sodas can pack on serious pounds fast, in that situation you need to assess, is that good for you ? Are sodas impacting your health.

Soda in and of itself isn’t “bad” used in moderation.  Not the best choice perhaps but not some evil thing.

Oh those carbs

I guess one of the comments I hate hearing is that “carbs” are bad for you.

I guess if we’re gonna split it out, let’s define those carbs.

Simple carbs that are found in those “not as nutritional food choices” would be carbs found in cakes, cookies, pastries, muffins, chips, fast foods, sodas, candy, sugared drinks, etc.

You should only consume those products minimally for optimal health.

Complex carbs, now those are a different creature. Fruits and veggies are loaded with complex carbs that are good energy sources for our bodies providing tons of vitamins and minerals which also helps protect against diseases, build cells, protect our vision. help our digestive system and major organs, fill us up for minimal calories, and so many offer anti-aging benefits as well.

Whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans etc also offer up a dense and nutritionally packed power punch for energy.

Sadly, these carbs are often viewed as the bad and shunned. Worse yet some “diet” plans entirely remove these food groups.

Real, natural, whole food labeled as “bad”.

Oh that sugar….

if there’s one thing that’s been heavily demonized is sugar. Again, as I mentioned, there are things we need to be mindful of in our daily diets. You shouldn’t be consuming a lot of sugar. That too, will pack on pounds if you’re eating those cookies and muffins on the daily. Don’t forget your sugary drinks you might enjoy as well.

Sugar in a modest amount isn’t “bad”.  If you have a weakness for it, then it might be that you make the choice to purposefully limit or stay away from it if it cause you to stumble in your health goals or to binge.

And fat free….

speaking of sugar, it leads me to the “fat free” thought. Get rid of fat it’s “bad” for you. Don’t eat fat.

Again like the carb lies, there are good fats and “bad” fats. Ironically, the fats that are not in your best health interest are also in many of the simple carbs I listed as well.

Years ago when the fat free rage was at it’s highest point and I was beginning to navigate the waters of health I learned a sobering truth while reading a label on some “fat free” cookies.

The calorie content was ridiculous! But why?? These were fat-free.

Listen, when you remove necessary fat from baked goods, you get essentially something that tastes like a cardboard shoebox.

To sell their product it had to have some taste so they majorly upped the sugar in their “fat free” cookies.

And the people eagerly bought into it. Because  fat free certainly must mean calorie free.

I realized if I wanted two “normal” cookies, I could do so with less calories involved. But then hey, the trend was normal cookies were “bad”.

Those other things I listed….

Cleanses and detoxes are awful for your body. Those are bad. Don’t do them. They just feed our disordered thinking on food and nutrition.

Skipping meals will not help you lose weight. You WILL be hungry and think about food all the time… so it’s a bit dysfunctional to ignore your bodies physical needs.

You cannot hit the gym the next day to “work off” food and drink from the day before. You can’t “negate what you ate”.  What you can do is get back on track with your eating and do sensible exercise. Again, more disordered thinking that we could actually lose calories we sucked recklessly in the day before.

There is no diet that is some magic wand to help you lose weight. At the end of each day, you have a calorie deficit. THAT is how you lose weight. Run away if some product or diet is making wild promises. It just isn’t true.

You don’t have to eat organic or buy meats that cost you a weeks worth of pay. For many people, it is way out of their budget to do so.  I might suggest if you started eating more fruits and veggies you’d be on the road to a healthier lifestyle and wellness. Again, we’ve been conditioned to “believe” these things by a select group.

Foods that don’t fall in those categories (organic etc)  aren’t “bad” or “robbed” of nutrients.

Could I make a radical suggestion here?

If food in general isn’t “bad”, perhaps it’s our behaviors with certain foods that are “bad”.

Perhaps we lack a level of control with certain foods. Maybe the mere taste of something pushes us to eat more. There might be foods that trigger our eating.  Maybe our emotions are what cause us to indulge in things we don’t need or eat excessively. Perhaps our mouth just wants to eat even if our stomach isn’t physically hungry.

These are behavior issues we have. The food, is what’s used to support those behaviors.

Withholding food from ourselves or over indulging in food is dysfunctional thinking. We can’t medicate with or without food.

We have to get real with ourselves and know where our weak areas are.

It has been easier in the world to make food be “bad” then it is to examine issues that cause bad behaviors with food.

The bottom line

We have to change our thinking with food and how we interact with it. We have to stop thinking of it in negative ways and look at our own behaviors with it.

If you realize you may have some struggles with how you view food or the choices you make you might consider writing those things down and then setting small goals for yourself in ways to changes those behaviors or thoughts. Perhaps you might need an accountability partner, someone who you can confide in and you could walk with you and help you with those changes.

Listen, I believe eating well the majority of the time is important to living a healthy life, having energy and looking good.

I also like cake and occasionally some French fries.  I’ve grown in my understanding and relationship with food to not have any guilt connected to it. Life is to be enjoyed and sometimes it means having fries or cake or whatever may float your boat.

There are things like alcohol, processed foods, excess sugar, and high fats ( not the good kind) that not only aren’t good for your health, but contribute to your aging process as well. Again, those should all be used cautiously.

Keeping a  healthy balance in your daily nutrition not only will keep you from dysfunctional thinking about food, but will let you have your cake and eat it too.

In moderation, of course 😉

cake

Smart Nutrition

Good nutrition. Smart nutrition. It’s a topic that comes up a lot and it’s a topic I’ve fielded not only for myself, but talking with others who desire to live a healthier lifestyle in regards to foods.

 

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Colorful foods are always healthy choices

 

Add to that, for most of us, we have busy lives and schedules and food sometimes is well, an afterthought.

There could be a tendency to grab just whatever is convenient or at hand because we’re tired or worse yet, our hunger is on full blown overdrive.

I am notorious some days for being hungry, yet feeling to lazy to make myself something. This is especially dangerous when it’s been a day I’ve trained hard and my body is wanting some good quality nutrition for all it’s work that morning.

Someone, please admit, there are days you feel like that too. Hungry yet the idea of making food or even putting something together seems like to much trouble so you just skate by.

Not ideal, I know.  There are some days I admittedly feel that way.

I’m smart enough to know my body needs proper fuel not just post workout, but also for a busy day of activities.

Yours does too.

Smart nutrition where does it start?

I’ve had friends jokingly ask if I’d follow them around and slap wrong foods out of their hands or  tell them they’ve had enough at the dinner table.

It always makes me laugh. Maybe, we all want someone like that. This tough love accountability person who snatches a donut from us or reminds us we don’t really need that big Mexican platter for lunch.  This person would simply follow us around like some muscular side kick directing our food choices.

I hate to break the news but smart nutrition, well, that starts with you.

It has to start with you because really, ultimately you are the only one making the choices.

Maybe you want to blame the co-worker for stocking piling donuts in the break room or use the reason you’re to tired to not make healthy foods so you stop at the fast food drive thru.

For example….

I’ve been helping my son at his shop this week. I ran out to do some errands for him and drove through a local fast food place for lunch to take back with me.

No. Not burgers and fries.

Although, I will admit, fries are at the top of my most favorite non- necessary food items.

However, they happen to make some amazing salads and that’s what I was after.  I love salads, not as a “diet” food but as a “healthy, nutritious good for my body” food.

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Now tell me how tasty this looks…..protein, fruit, and leafy greens

 

Eating it leaves me feeling satisifed, yet also energetic and not sluggish like I’d feel from a meal heavy in more simple carbs.  I’ve eaten like this long enough that it’s a no brainer for me to go for healthier choices.

Although… why… why can’t salads smell as good on the wind as the smell of greasy foods??? hahaha

We encounter choices each day in how we eat. There can be an endless list to reasons why we don’t make smarter, healthier choices in our nutrition each day.

But when it comes down to what we put in our mouths, no one is standing there shoveling it in but us.

We are responsible for our own nutrition, good or bad.

Well where do I start?

No one understands better than I do that you just don’t magically develop good nutritional habits over night.

You just don’t.

You don’t undo or change a life time or years of eating certain ways without some determination and discipline to see it through. If you’re reading this I may assume you are wanting to eat nutritionally smarter.

Getting started requires a bit of a mental shift in your thinking. The foods or snacks you reach for. Your beverage choices. How much you eat. When you eat. It all takes some time and planning.

Oh yeah… planning helps. Some tips and tricks…

we live busy lives.  Planning somewhat is crucial to success in developing smart nutrition habits.

Sitting down and thinking about meals and snacks and ingredients needed when you aren’t hungry is the best place to start. Once you’ve developed a plan and utilized it for awhile you won’t have to think so much about what you’re doing.

Consider your lifestyle. Do you work? Do you need healthy easy meals that won’t take much time to prepare or could be prepped in advance? Crock pots and one pan dinners are at the top of my healthy recipe ideas. If you need creative ideas, Pinterest is loaded with them.

You would need to consider your work meals. Maybe you don’t take a lunch but really, it’s the best way to ensure you are eating foods that you’ve chosen and aren’t going to be subject to grabbing whatever is easy in the work cafeteria.

Food prep. Ok I’m not really into that. I know what I like and what works for me so I don’t make containers of food to keep in ‘fridge.  I’m also at home so it’s easy enough for me to make my meals based on what I want.

However, making and prepping things like fruits and veggies in advance will make it easier to grab it for lunch or to make up a easy salad if you don’t have to chop a lot of stuff, I sometimes will buy already cut and prepped veggies because I appreciate the convenience of it ( like broccoli )

Hard boiled eggs, cheese cubes, or sliced lean meats will make lunch prep quick and easy.

Try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. ( fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc) the more colorful, the better.

Cheetos don’t count by the way 😉

Learning to swap out high calorie or less nutritious foods is another way to being smart in making a healthy change. For example, swapping chips for crunchy veggies with ranch dip made with Greek yogurt is a way to not only cut calories, you get a little protein in with the yogurt. Greek yogurt is very high in protein and all I eat now days. I buy the non-fat plain and add my own fruit, nuts etc. or use it as a base for dips and cooking that requires sour cream.

Don’t forget your drinks. Sugary drinks contribute to your daily calories and are not a part of a smart nutrition plan.

In conclusion….

becoming smarter in nutritional choices takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you make choices you think you’ve “failed” in.

Really, an awareness shows you that you are trying and are aware of choices so that’s a good thing!

Take each day at a time, try to make wise choices in that day, celebrate your victories and learn from your mistakes.

Each day makes you smarter in your nutrition habits and leads to a healthier body and lifestyle.

Tell me… what tips or ideas work for you in regards to smart nutrition ?

 

 

 

Super Size Me

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Full disclosure here. I’ve been camped on this topic for a long time now. Sometimes ideas come to me and they are easy to write off the cuff. Others require a bit of time to brew in my head and yet some I’m just left pondering how to deliver the message. This is usually when a topic is a wee bit controversial or “not politically” correct or whatever term can be applied.

Since I’m one who is fairly comfortable speaking my mind, I won’t hold back.

When I saw the quote above it was one of those things that resonated with me immediately. Mainly because the truth of it in our culture and society today is so true.

Food has become the drug of choice for many and it’s taking a toll on their health and living a energetic lifestyle. This drug also has the ability to end lives with the diseases that obesity brings with it. Food is a socially acceptable way to often medicate things deep inside yet it doesn’t fix the problems a person deals with.

With obesity at an all time high in adults and more disturbingly in children, some are eating their way to the grave. Unfortunately, food is often mindlessly, mechanically consumed and in quantities beyond what is needed to satisfy our hunger.

With restaurants and food establishments offering larger and larger portions or the “super sizing” we are super sizing ourselves into obesity and the joy of carting around extra fat on our bodies. This taxes our heart and lungs, puts excessive work on our joints, causes our organs to work hard to compensate for the excess which then causes our body to develop ( very preventable diseases)

Super-Size-Me

According to the CDC (Centers for disease control) Nearly 4 in 10 adults have a body mass index classifying them as obese. Young Americans as well have been piling on the pounds and obesity rates among the country’s youth ( 2-19) stands at 18.5 percent.  This trend is most worrying as young people are far more likely to stay obese while childhood obesity is linked to a higher chance of early death in adulthood. More troubling yet, 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese making people with normal weight a minority.

But wait… it’s not just an American problem….

Globally there are more people ( children and adults) who are obese than underweight – this occurs in every region except parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight.

Some key facts

  • Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
  • In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese.
  • 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
  • Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
  • 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016.
  • Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
  • Obesity is preventable

 

So why are people getting so fat?

Being over weight, simplified, is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.

Worldwide there has been an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat; ( think fast foods, overly processed, high calorie, refined sugars etc. ) and an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization. And sadly let’s not forget an overall laziness or desire to just not physically exert ourselves.

So basically, we’re shoveling in more food, and not the good kinds, and moving our bodies less and less.

It’s the perfect storm for disaster.

Are there common health consequences for obesity and being overweight?

Yes. Our bodies are not designed to handle excessive fat and often develop diseases because of this.

  • cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012;
  • diabetes;
  • musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints);
  • some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon).
  • high blood pressure

And what about our kids?

Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. But in addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects.

My brother was overweight as a young adult. Children are awful in how they treat others. The psychological effects can be huge for kids.

How do we fix the problem?

First and foremost, someone has to have the desire to change patterns, habits, and behaviors that have led to obesity or being overweight. Without a personal desire nothing will change.

Overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are largely preventable.

Preventable meaning we have control of them. Meaning we can change things if we don’t let it get to far. There are things you might not have control over, but maintaining a healthy weight is something for the most part, we can all have a measure of control over.

Supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping people’s choices, by making the choice of healthier foods and regular physical activity the easiest choice (the choice that is the most accessible, available and affordable), and therefore preventing overweight and obesity.

As adults we are in control of the choices we make, good or bad. If we have children then we are responsible for the foods we buy and provide for them. If high fat, sugary foods are the mainstay of what’s available, they will be consumed. Children cannot go buy their own food so we must be mindful of providing them with the most nutritionally sound foods that we can. Treats aren’t bad, but they should be limited. If certain foods aren’t available in the home they can’t be consumed.

The same goes for us. If we limit/control the amount of non-nutritional foods we bring home, we won’t eat them.

I told hubby when we were shopping recently that I know and  fully understand if I bring home a bag of salt and pepper kettle potato chips, it’s the equivalent to bringing home crack to a druggie.

I just can’t be trusted with them. The best thing then is that I don’t buy them, and if I do, I fully accept the consequences.

Steps to take in losing weight

On an individual level we can:

  • limit energy intake from total fats and sugars;
  • increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts; and
  • engage in regular physical activity. Find something you enjoy and do it. Do it most days of the week. Children need to be moving and should be encouraged to participate in sports and other activities to keep them healthy and work off excess energy 😉
  • limit the amount of fast foods or overly processed foods eaten.
  • Try to eat more natural foods without things added to them.
  • Develop a balanced and sensible nutrition plan.
  • Plan a 1-2 lb loss a week.

Keep a healthy perspective

Keeping your goals small and realistic will lead to success. Understand building new habits and behaviors will take time but they will be worth having to help you live a permanent lifestyle of health and wellness.

Accept good and bad days on your journey but don’t quit. Keep moving forward every day celebrating all your body can do for you.

Make small consistent changes. Don’t go for the “all or nothing” or drastically cut all things you love from your daily nutrition.

Get friends or family on board to have a support system to help you. Often it is hard to do something like this on our own, having others who can hold you accountable, ask you how you are doing and celebrate your successes with you can help tremendously.

If you and your family need to lose weight, brainstorm on how you can work together as a team to reach goals individually and as a group.

Finally, be patient with yourself and learn to celebrate each step along your journey and before you know it, you will have reached your goals your  set for yourself.

What healthy practices do you use? Do you think the super sizing of foods has contributed to obesity problems? Do you think food is often used to medicate feelings or emotions?

Spinach Benefits And Great Hair

Today boys and girls we’re gonna talk about food. One thing I have decided and I know is this: I won’t ever be led to be a food blogger but if I’m going to be a blogger who talks about healthy nutrition, I will most likely share some food posts at some point.

Don’t expect cute, cool food pics from me haha.. well maybe.

Earlier today I was updating some boards on my Pinterest account and came across a tasty sounding breakfast recipe, Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake. This was rather handy since I was out early for my yoga class, which unbeknownst to me, was not happening when I got there.

So plan B?  Go get some coffee and rearrange some of my boards. A quick assessment showed me I had all the ingredients needed for this recipe so I hurried home to make it ’cause I was like… you know.. hungry.

This breakfast contained several of my favorite things : Spinach, eggs, and cheese.

Now don’t go getting all weird on me with the mention of spinach. Since I’m about healthy foods, let’s just take a quick look at what spinach can do for us, shall we?

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I seriously go through about two of these cartons a week… on my own.

 

What’s in that leafy green goodness?

Low in fat and even lower in cholesterol, spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. In other word, it’s loaded with good things for every part of your body!

Spinach is appreciated for the high amount of protein in its leaves.

Among vegetables, only peas and beans contain more protein than spinach.

Spinach is made up of 91.4% water, 3.6% carbs, 2.9% protein, and 0% fat.

A hundred grams of spinach has only twenty-three calories, which makes it an excellent choice for people who want to slim down

What health benefits does it offer?

Popeye was definitely on to something with his spinach consumption.  Spinach is a super food loaded with tons of nutrients in a low calorie package. Dark leafy greens like spinach are important for skin, hair and bone health. Dark leafy greens also provide protein, iron, vitamins and minerals.

The possible health benefits of consuming spinach include improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering the risk of cancer, reducing blood pressure, improving bone health, lowering the risk of developing asthma, and more.

But check this out…

Spinach leaves are also very rich in vitamin K, as a hundred grams contains 604% of the daily value intake.

Vitamin K is vital for your health, since it strengthens the bones and stimulates the bones’ osteotropic activity. Spinach also provides better calcium absorption and even helps maintain your calcium levels in check.

At this rate I should never have a broken hip.

If you love your bones, you really want to make spinach a part of your daily intake.

Vitamin A helps in sebum production to keep your hair moisturized.

This vitamin is also  necessary for the development of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair, both of which never stop to regenerate.

Besides, vitamin C found in spinach is vital in producing and maintaining collagen, which gives your hair and skin proper structure.

I mean, who doesn’t want amazing hair and skin ???

I could go on here about the benefits….

Spinach offers so much more but if I keep on I’ll never get to my recipe and how tasty it was.

I’m just trying to sell you on what a good food choice it is to add to your daily diet. If you only eat it in a creamy spinach dip, you’re missing out! Consider other ways you can eat it too 😉

Spinach makes appearances at almost all of my meals and is most always a part of my veggie scramble at breakfast.

It has replaced lettuce in my lunch salads. And it makes a wonderful add in to so many things.

So let’s get to the recipe….

Find it here…. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/439523244868061922/

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You just need a few simple ingredients

 

It really took just a few minutes to whip it up and toss in the oven. I did use more spinach than the recipe called for because although it does cook down and I didn’t  over cook it, I honestly thought it could handle more. I basically doubled up on the spinach and even add more green onions ’cause those little things are just tasty AND good for you too.

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Ready to go to the oven. Isn’t my dish all matchy matchy with the food ? 😉

 

It has a short baking time so you won’t have to wait long to savor it’s yummy goodness AND it gives you time to quickly clean up and get the rest of your meal ready for when it’s finished.

 

 

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Time to eat. I wish you could smell it.

As you can see I paired it with fresh fruit and (what you don’t see that I also like) salsa/hot sauce, added to the egg bake.

Eating tasty, healthy meals doesn’t have to be boring or bland. A willingness to experiment can lead you on new adventures and a slimmer waist line 😉

Have you experimented with a new food recently? Did you like it?