Simple Nutrition

Yeah, hello, I’m still alive out here.  No, the duathlon didn’t leave me laying on the side of the road 😛  I promise, I am doing a recap but…well… they keep teasing us with all our free race photos and course I wanna toss one or two of those in as well… so hopefully sometime this week you can find it here so stay tuned. I had fun and I did ok so check back. 😉

However a busy Thanksgiving week and all my well intended plans to scratch something out for you seemed to sail out the window.

So much tasty food for Thanksgiving. Some new dishes shared as well as the traditional favorites everyone enjoys.

It goes without saying that eating comes pretty naturally for all of us. Where we differ is how we choose to eat and the foods that we put into our bodies.

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Every time we eat, we have the power to make choices.

Obviously, how I feed my body is important to how well I can potentially do my training sessions and also have energy for the rest of my day. I’ve learned that cutting back on food or not eaingt pre work out is the equivalent of taking off on a long trip with your gas tank sitting on or close to the empty mark.

In todays busy world food sometimes seems complicated and it shouldn’t be. I don’t spend a lot of time obsessing over food .. unless it’s 4:30 and the dinner hour is breathing down my neck, everything is frozen, and I’m completely clueless what to feed the crew.

THEN I might start obsessing a little.

Having healthy snacks or easy balanced and nutritious meals shouldn’t have to stress you out. I’ve personally found if I have healthy foods in my ‘fridge with easy access to them I’m always more likely to grab them.

No, I don’t meal prep or have 50 containers of the exact food waiting for me day after day. There are foods that I can easily grab or assemble as a snack if I feel like I’m famished ( and some days after long training sessions those moments can come on quickly) Maybe you haven’t done a long training session but maybe you’ve put in a long day at work and dinner is still in the process of coming together.

Taking a little time to prepare some things to keep on hand will help you make healthier snacks choices.

Consider things like:

Hard boiled eggs

Cheese sticks or cheese cubes

A variety of precut, prepared veggies you can grab

Ranch dip, made with non-fat Greek yogurt

Fresh fruit

Peanut butter ( in moderation)

Grilled or baked chicken ( works for so many different things)

Greek yogurt ( toss in some berries or raw almonds)

Raw nuts like almonds or walnuts

Homemade smoothies with your choice of fruit, milk etc. (be really mindful of buying smoothies when you’re on the go as they are often high in sugar and loaded with tons of calories. )

I also like to keep whole grain crackers around. I will put together a small plate with some cheese and fruit to carry me over till I can eat my next meal.

Or try this tasty little healthy snack:

Apple slice cookies:

Red delicious apple ( you need a nice firm apple for slicing) , peanut butter, unsweetened coconut, mini chocolate chips, chopped walnuts.

Core apple, slice into 1/4 inch slices. Lay out on cookie sheet and press with a paper towel to absorb excess water ( this will help peanut butter stay in place) spread a  thin layer of peanut butter then add coconut, walnuts and mini chocolate chips.

Enjoy 🙂

The more prepared you are the more likely you are to make good choices.

But back to that dinner thing….

I know I’m not the only one who sometimes bangs their head against the wall thinking of something clever for dinner. Personally, I could eat meat and veggies of some sort all the time but the rest of the crew.. well they have different ideas at times 😉

Mind you.. I have like… 5 thousand cook books so it’s not like I lack a place for ideas.  It’s just that they aren’t always with me if I’m out running around an realize I need food ideas.

Enter Pinterest

Who doesn’t always have their phone with them? And if you haven’t checked out Pinterest, will you should. All I have to do is open that app and search up some dinner recipes. Although now I actually have a board started with all kinds of tasty dinner recipes to choose from so I can be in the store, get the ingredients if I don’t have them and still put something new and delicious together.

( Click on my Pinterest link to follow me there and find a lot of my fav dinner ideas.. oh… and do I have some desserts for you too 😉 )

My favorite  new thing is one sheet dinners. I’m telling you… your life will never be the same again…ever.

All of the tasty goodness is cooked on one pan. Easy clean up. Nutritious. And there is a huge variety of ideas.

Simple nutrition my friends, simple.

Some of my favorites:

https://pin.it/4nqwlidnygrmkg  ( Greek Chicken with Green Beans And Feta Cheese)

https://pin.it/o5yrbbd2v3vx2l  ( Sheet Pan BBQ Dinner)

https://pin.it/mwxp5oounhzkdt  ( Roasted Garlic & Herb Sausage and Potatoes)

https://pin.it/2qaxgmnxitv3k6 ( Asparagus Sweet Potato Chicken)

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I’ve made this too. It was a huge hit, and totally delicious

 

 

Not only are these meals easy to prepare with minimal work and clean up they offer a good variety from many food groups. Some are stand alone meals, some I might add a salad or bread depending on what it is.

Eating healthy with a focus on good food doesn’t need to be complicated. It may take a little time for you to get into the routine and find what works for you but once you adapt you will find it easier than ever to make healthy meals and snacks that will keep you on track with your health and fitness goals.

 

 

 

 

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The ABC’s Of Building A Healthy Diet

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So it’s early afternoon and I’ve finally managed to escape to my fav coffee cave and write. WHY is it so hard to get it done sometimes? Not for lack of ideas or clever creativeness but some days are just hard to make it happen.

I’m making it happen today… doing it before you decide I’ve given up on this idea of writing.

I’m glaringly aware that my computer informs me today is November 2 and there are a few thoughts that accompany that awareness.

First, wow, October sailed by. Of course I ended the month like many playing dress up for Halloween and hanging with my kids getting free candy from people who had nothing better to do than sit in their driveways all evening 😉

Then of course, with the arrival of November there are thoughts of Thanksgiving now dancing in my head. There will be plotting and planning for all of the goodies that go with that day.

BUT before Thanksgiving or anything else…. gulp.. this is the month of my duathlon. Actually 17 days out from this point. It’s hard to not see it staring me down but ready or not… it’s coming.

Ok.. more on that later….

November definitely makes me think about food. It makes me think of the seasonal tasty treats we get to enjoy and the traditions that go with them.

But today I’m thinking about food more along the lines of a healthy diet. What does that mean, exactly? And how do you build one if you don’t know much about it? Maybe you’ve been wanting to eat better but just aren’t sure what goes into a “healthier” daily diet.

Realistically, there’s no one way to eat that’s right for everyone. What works for you, might not work for me.

We’re individual and our likes and needs are varied and different.  Our likes can be based on not just our needs but cultural preferences too.  A person with health issues, like diabetes, may have to eat differently from someone who doesn’t.  So it’s rather broad to say there’s a standard healthy diet that fits everyone.

However, there are some definite building blocks that apply to all of us. With these building blocks you can shape and build your own nutritional plan that works for you.

What is a healthful diet?

it provides the proper combination of energy and nutrients to you each day. It has four characteristics.

It’s adequate, moderate, balanced, and varied.

No matter your age, health, fitness level or weight, if you keep these thoughts in mind you will be able to select foods that give you energy and provide good nutrition to you each day.

A healthy diet is adequate

An adequate diet provides enough of the energy, nutrients, fiber and crucial vitamins and minerals to maintain a persons health. A diet can be inadequate in one area or many areas of a persons daily needs.  For example, many people don’t eat enough vegetables and not consuming enough of the fiber and nutrients vegetables provide. Their intake of protein, carbs and fats may be more than adequate, often to many of these calories are consumed and the person is overweight because they eat more than exceeds their energy needs.

Under nutrition can also occur if there are several nutrients ignored for long periods of time.

Also a diet that is adequate for one person may not be adequate for another. As an athletic woman, my caloric needs on many days during the week are vastly different from a woman my age who is sedentary or lightly active. As individuals we would differ greatly in our activity level and our body fat and lean muscle mass making our requirements for fat, carbs, proteins and other nutrients very different.

A healthy diet is one of moderation

Moderation is one of the keys to a healthful diet and I believe one of the most important. Moderation refers to eating any food in moderate amounts, not to much or to little.  Eating to much or to little of any foods we cannot reach our health goals.

One example would be people who consume soft drinks. Loaded with empty, non-nutritious calories, it’s an easy way to pack on the pounds if many are consumed each day. Often I’ve seen individuals stop drinking soda and easily drop pounds.

Enjoy a variety of foods and treats, in moderation.

A healthy diet is balanced.

A balanced diet contains foods that provide the proper proportions of nutrients.  The body needs many types in varying amounts to maintain health.

A healthy diet is varied

Variety of course refers to eating many foods from all food groups on a regular basis. Often I have people say… “well, I don’t really like to eat….. ( some food)” and I remind them there are lots, and lots of other foods they can choose from that are healthy and provide good nutrients to their body.  When you eat a variety of foods it will increase the chance that you are consuming all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.   Also, when you eat a varied diet it keeps boredom from setting in which often cause many people to give up because they are tired of the same foods.  Enjoy so variety in your daily diet!

In summary…

A healthy daily diet provides adequate nutrients and it includes sweets, fats, salts, and alcohol in moderate amounts only. A healthy diet includes an appropriate balance of nutrients and a wide variety of foods.

Foods to include in your day would be:

Whole grains, a variety of veggies, fruits, dairy products and protein foods. It’s important to remember protein goes a long way in keeping you satisfied and preventing hunger as well as keeping your blood sugar stable through the day. Make sure you get adequate portions at each meal to feel full and avoid those feelings of “crashing”.

When it comes to vegetables, many people do not come close to getting enough in their daily diet. Learn to experiment with a few new ones each week. Learn different ways to cook them and be willing to explore new options for your health.

Filling your meals with whole foods (  foods as close to being real and not processed as possible) you will be able to meet the majority of your nutritional needs.

The extra stuff.

You need to limit the amount of empty calories you consume. empty calories refer to foods that provide few or no nutrients.  You should limit the number of empty calories you consume to a small amount that fits in with your daily requirements. all of which depend on your age, gender and level of activity.

Foods that contain the most empty calories are :

Cakes, cookies, pastries, doughnuts, soft drinks, fruit drinks, pizza, ice cream, hot dogs, fast foods etc. High sugar foods such as candies, desserts, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are all referred to as empty calorie. ( I know, you’re thinking, that’s all the fun stuff!)

These foods don’t have to be banned, they just shouldn’t be what your daily diet mainly consists of.

Building a healthy and nutritious food plan might take a little work and discipline but with time you will find you can not only eat well, but have some cake too 😉

Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl.
This is a great visual on how to structure your meals.

Pizza, Moderation And Weight Loss

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Anyone relate?

 

 

I ate pizza the other night for dinner. As you sit there downing your morning coffee you might be thinking… “and WHY are you telling me this?”  Hang with me, will you ? I’m not gonna waste your time telling you what I ate for dinner.  I mean it’s relevant for where I’m going so… hold on.

Pizza might be one of those things viewed as “off limits” or “bad” if you fall in that line of thinking for weight loss and overall lifestyle health.  I mean if you consume a lot of it, well, yeah maybe so.

I want to come to you with a perspective I preach about and believe works for anyone wanting to just live life, be healthy, fit, and not obsess constantly over what goes in their mouth.

I hated those days! Thinking of what I could eat and couldn’t eat. Thinking of when I could have food again because I was hungry and ignoring the signals my body gave me to eat.  Feeling guilty if I ate something “bad”.  Eating more than what satisfied my hunger, eating for my eyes and mouth. Worrying about how many calories I may have had or trying to keep total.

Such a miserable way to live, controlled by food in a host of ways.

So along the way, as I’ve shared before, that having an open relationship with food put me in charge of it. Basically it gave me power to make decisions based on what I wanted to do.

Food, was simply, food.  Some of those foods I knew and understood were to be enjoyed in controlled moderation to reach my goals.  Not with held which can bring on those feelings of deprivation that lead to finally eating to much of it or just throwing in the towel.

Healthy, nutritious foods were meant to make up the mainstay of my daily diet.  I learned to eat those the majority of the time.

If I had a celebration or was going out to eat, I already determined what I was allowing myself to have.

With that balance I moved forward. The weight slowly and steadily came off, I enjoyed life and didn’t obsess over how I was eating or not eating.

On a side note, this month marks 8 years since I started this process. I think this might be working 😉

So there’s a lot that goes on not just physically, but mentally as well.

Knowing and understanding that I can have any food I want let’s me make mindful decisions over what I have and when. I’ve learned to think more about what I’m eating and assess it’s importance of going in my body.  I also let go of the “last supper” mentality.

You know what that is right? It’s that attitude that says… “eat all your favorite foods up now ’cause you’re going on a diet and never, ever having them again!”

When you know you can still have your favorite cereal, snack, ice cream or a baked potato you don’t feel the need to consume it all at once.

Pizza. You’re sitting there thinking, where is this going with pizza?  For me now days, that means a piece of pizza with plenty of salad or veggies alongside of it.  I have pizza, and eating plenty of healthy, low calorie, nutrient dense veggies fills me and satisfies my hunger. Because I’ve learned to listen to my body and eat enough to satisfy it but not keep eating because it’s in front of me I’ve basically learned how to have it in small amounts.

No, I don’t feel deprived because I’m not eating more of it.  I love making mindful choices. It’s empowering to choose your food and enjoy it, whatever it is.

Getting on a path to a healthier lifestyle and way of eating involves really learning to be mindful of what you eat, and how much you eat. It means you really learn to listen to those natural God given signals in your belly and follow them.  So often we are simply “trained” to eat at certain times and follow certain social cues instead of just listening to our bodies.

If you are working to lose weight and think you must forego everything you love, rethink that.

Learn to follow a few basic rules or cues from your body

Eat when you’re hungry. Sounds crazy, I know. Just learn to do it.

Eat nutrient dense foods most of the time.

If you choose to have a food that doesn’t perhaps fall in that category, determine what you will allow yourself.  Eat slowly and learn to appreciate what it really tastes like.

Build in veggies with every meal. They are filling and beyond good for you. Not only that you won’t  be tempted to gorge on your pizza or whatever you’re having.

Satisfy your hunger but learn to stop when you feel comfortable. This takes practice, especially if you’ve been used to over eating for a long time. The point is to keep on practicing till you learn to read those signals.  Your body only needs a certain amount of food to deal with it’s hunger. Anything else turns into “head” eating.

These are things that I have slowly learned along these past years. It’s taken practice. Fail, repeat, keep going till it started to feel normal to me.

I think really tuning into your body is huge.  I think it’s also important as I’ve mentioned before, to understand why you eat beyond hunger. Our emotions are a powerful drive for over consumption of food. Learn to identify reasons that make you eat beyond hunger, this will give you a huge advantage if you’re trying to lose weight.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. It’s filled with delicious foods we enjoy. With practice and intentional, purposeful choices you can have all your favorite foods and lose weight too.

Have you learned any tips or tricks that has helped you successfully lose weight and has been sustainable for you ?

Your Schedule And Exercise

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Meetings. School, work, volunteer groups seems like no matter what kind of group you may be involved with at some point they have meetings you attend. Some you may be able to get out of but something like, work, you really don’t get an option.

When you have a meeting with the boss you better make sure your happy little self is there ready to do what needs to be done.

A scheduled meeting with yourself to get your sweat on should be no different.

I’ve been asked how I manage to “stick with” exercise. I’ve been told that my “dedication” is to be admired. Often the person I’m talking with is wanting to know what the magic potion is that has helped me maintain my exercise regime for 8 years now.

I hate to tell you, but there isn’t any magic potion.

In the beginning it involved some whining and complaining ( to myself) but I made myself  go do it.

And those are accurate words… made myself.

No athletic clothes, no heavy sweating, no techie gear, no athletic goals dancing in my head. Just a decent pair of shoes, I’d dutifully walk off my 2 miles.

I wasn’t excited about doing it. I did it because I knew I needed to and if I wanted to live a healthy life I would move my body purposefully every single day.

I made a commitment to it. If I couldn’t do it in the morning ( my preferred time) then I’d come home in the afternoon, change shoes, and go get it done.

In time something crazy started happening….

I don’t remember exactly when the shift occurred. The shift from dutifully doing it and checking it off my list, to something I looked forward to and began to guard and schedule as anything else important in my life.

In a 24 hour span of time, my workouts sessions were my time I scheduled with myself.  I learned to view them as important as anything else I’d be doing in my day.

I learned to structure the rest of my day and appointments around my scheduled workout time, allowing for clean up and getting to my destination.

Some mornings are tight but I’ve become a wizard at transforming from sweaty, grime crusted athletic girl to someone who smells clean and looks respectable in an almost Ninja fast way.

Why? Because those meetings are important to me. They set the tone for my day. Workouts wake up my body, clear the night cobwebs and get my blood flowing. If I miss it, I honestly feel “off”.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.

When you commit to something and faithfully follow through it turns into this crazy thing called… a habit. Once that habit is established it doesn’t cross your mind to make excuses to not do it.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road and putting miles under me is a great way to learn things about myself.

I haven’t learned those things by not keeping my scheduled meetings to be there.

Over these past years I’ve seen what I’m made of when I have to dig deeper into myself for the challenge in front of me. I’ve learned I can continue to push past limits and head to new ones, and then push past those too.

In keeping those meetings with myself, fitness has taught me so much.

I’ve learned more about discipline, consistency, hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, goal setting, the strength of not just my body ( which at times I’m amazed at what it can do) but how it’s forged a fierce mental toughness in me which comes in handy for the rest of life. I’ve learned with training and determination I can do things I used to think were only for an elite group of people.

And in a cool way, I learned that I was pretty good at it.  Something else I would’ve missed out on not keeping those early morning meetings with myself.

So what suggestions do I give to people?

As mentioned above, that is one of the things I get asked mainly because I think people do find it so hard to stick with. They want ideas and help to get rolling (and hopefully ) staying with it.

They have a genuine desire but I hear them, it’s hard in the beginning! You have to fight back against all the things that come at you, especially yourself.

Excuses can be easily made to justify not getting it done. Work, family, school, other activities all clamor for our attention and we wonder if it isn’t easier to just let it go.

So here are my pointers, for what it’s worth.

~Determine what time of day is best for you. This will be a totally personal thing depending on the schedule of your life and if you function best in the morning or evening.  Find a time.

~ Start with something you enjoy doing.  You will stay with it if you actually like what you do. And why you’re doing that, be thinking of something else you can do. Having a couple activities keeps boredom from setting in.

~ Just start. Don’t wait for Monday or till after a holiday or your grandmothers birthday. Just get up and start.

~ There are days you’re gonna think you’re to tired. Do it anyway. You’ll feel invigorated I promise.

~View it as important as anything else in your day and don’t allow it to not get done. ** I will say here, sometimes life just happens, even for me. If things go beyond your control and it just doesn’t, just regroup and get at it again the next day.**

~ Zealously guard your time. In the beginning when I started exercising I kept at it because I felt like the alcoholic who, if they had a drink would fall off the wagon. Only I worried if I made an excuse one day, then it would lead to another day, and I’d find myself in the land of excuses again for dropping my exercise habit. Honestly, it scared me enough to make me stay at it. Sometimes a little fear doesn’t hurt.

~ Consistency and discipline have payoffs. Not just the side effects of helping you lose weight or how your physique may change with it, but you will build that discipline into a new habit, and new habits have this crazy way of sticking.

~ Be kind to yourself. Remember an unexpected set back or off day isn’t a reason to forget the idea. Several years ago I hurt my knee, and no, not from running. It was from learning to ride a motorcycle 😛 the doctor wanted me off running for 6 weeks. I was devastated. But I was more terrified with that much time off I’d be out of my routine and not want to go back to it. Not true. I counted the days and when I got back on the road for the first time, I literally cried. ( something I do not recommend as running with a snotty nose hinders your breathing a bit haha 😉 ) I cried to be back out. I cried that my desire hadn’t gone away. I cried for the pure freedom of doing something I had been learning to love.

That’s when I realized that exercise thing really had stuck.

Yes, there are days now I wake up and as my brain is focusing on my training for that morning I think am I gonna have all I need to do this ? Of course that’s my “foggy, I haven’t had coffee yet to remind me that, yes I do” brain speaking.

I do have all I need. I love what I can do and am thankful to be able to do it. I’m thankful I pushed on in those early days and didn’t quit.

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This is what happens when you stick with exercise. You’re snapping a selfie after finishing your first round through the entire duathlon course. #runbikerun

 

If you’re struggling to get started understand we’ve all been there. Just make a commitment to yourself and get rolling with one day at a time. Schedule your meetings with yourself and before you know it, you’ll be eager to show up for them.

Tell me have you overcome the lack of exercise in your life? How did you do it? Or is this an area you still struggle with ?

~

Health, Fitness And Not Giving Up

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Hello world! Are you still out there? I know I’ve been gone for some days, but if you remember from a previous post, I had a son get married this past week and I gained a new daughter in law.

To say my four day weekend was a little busy is an understatement. However, the wedding happened, it looked beautiful, and they are now married. The most important part, right?

To say I was proud watching my oldest get married, to see his petite bride taking his arm with a smiling face and eyes only for him, yeah ok I was proud.

So now here I am, a week later trying to sit myself down and share something with you so you know I’m still alive and kicking.

So, on to todays program! As many of my posts are, they get generated through conversations with people, or sometimes a quote I see, or whatever current hype I want to address.

I recently saw a post on social media about “getting started again”. There was discouragement this person had gotten off track with their fitness goals and were attempting to get back heading the right direction again.

It really is so easy to do, to get discouraged and throw in the towel.

We forget it takes some time and perseverance to make progress!  We tend not to chart our progress when we gain weight or skip workouts ( who wants to remind themselves they aren’t working out or eating right?)

Yet when we are wanting to lose weight or get more physically fit, we get frustrated with ourselves. We want quick results and almost instant change. We look in the mirror for visible results. We put clothes on expecting them to be magically bigger.

When it doesn’t happen, we just quit.  Maybe we quit because for awhile, our old habits are just easy to fall back into. Like our fav pair of jeans or sloppy shoes.

It feels comfortable to us.

Those new changes feel uncomfortable and when we don’t get quick results it’s easy to think “why bother”?

We may look at the scale and see numbers that are seemingly so far away and getting to that goal feels overwhelming.

Maybe it’s lab results at the doctor that give a more in depth look of your health and those numbers aren’t so good.

Perhaps that walk you took off on has reminded you that, yeah, your cardio health, it’s as out of shape as the outside body you can see.

It’s not comfortable to move into a zone of “discomfort”.  And yeah, there is a certain level of discomfort that comes from moving ourselves into new habits and behaviors.

Change just won’t come unless we’re willing to accept and embrace it.

Our focus needs adjusted…

When we focus on how far we need to go to get to whatever goals we’ve set for ourselves it really hinders our progress. Not only that, it’s just not fair to yourself.

If you’re working daily to make changes ( even if you might not feel you always nail them) you aren’t being fair to yourself to consider all the work you’ve invested into the process of a lifestyle change.

I think, talking with people, this has to be one of the single most important thing to consider and remember.  I try and remind them of where they’ve come from, Whether it’s a new mentality about food, learning to listen to their bodies more about how to eat and when to eat, learning to exercise,or thinking in more positive ways about themselves. Maybe they had a better report at the doctor or they have been able to do more physically with greater ease.

A lifestyle change is a slow, daily, determined process. Don’t believe that those small changes don’t matter, they do! And in time those small things will lead to that greater weight loss you want or being able to take on a physical activity you previously thought you couldn’t.

I’m no different. True, my goals and perspectives have changed for myself since I started my health journey. I’m no longer focused on weight or trying to lose it.  But I still feel that way when I’m pushing myself to get faster on the bike, running, or lifting something heavier.

I remind myself how far I’ve come and that this is indeed, a daily journey and I need to keep my focus on how far I’ve come and not the road in front of me I’m still traveling.

Same for you. It’s much more enjoyable when you focus on what you’ve accomplished than what you still need to do.

Celebrate your victories, don’t be to harsh on yourself if a day doesn’t go as planned, and learn to enjoy your journey and all you will learn about yourself.

Are you in a place of discouragement or have you quit again? Have you done it before but now are on the right track again? What has helped you stick with it?

 

Food Choices Deprivation Or Empowerment

Pass Junk food

 

“Don’t you miss eating fun foods?” I was asked that question one day…. this person obviously didn’t know my eating habits super well or they’d know my weakness for some occasional chocolate, powdered sugar donuts, or better yet, French fries.

Years ago as I embarked on my health journey, that may have been my mentality. It would’ve have been my mentality if I had banned foods or put them off limits or treated them like I’d never, ever get to have them again.

Not making foods “good” or “bad” has helped me be successful, and stay successful on this path.  I think this theory will work for the majority of people wanting to be healthy.

Oh, in the past I can remember parties or get togethers and “abstaining” from whatever foods/desserts I thought I shouldn’t have.

Let’s be honest, that kinda stuff flat out sucks.

But here’s the weird kicker. What starts out in the beginning as something that feels out of your routine, or daily habit, can slowly be transformed into a new habit and permanent change in our lifestyle.

If you eat “junk” food and it’s your thing to go to, then your taste buds have definitely been trained to eat that way. I’d like to think all of you were raised by moms who attempted to feed you good, healthy food in the beginnings of your life.

As a free willed individual, you grew up and did your own thing. That might involve not eating what mom tried to get you to eat but instead opting for other less desirable choices.

You get it… you train yourself to eat foods that support your health and give you energy or you’re comfortable eating foods that satisfy your emotions and mouth and offer no or minimal nutritional value.

It does make me sad when people make jokes about eating foods that support good health and they don’t participate in eating that way. I’m over here thinking… “that’s your body your living in, the only one you get!”

A mental shift has to occur for anyone to be successful in weight loss and eating in a manner that supports good health.

If you view not getting to eat “junk” food as deprivation, you will not move forward. If you view eating well as punishment, you will not move forward.

We all face temptations when it comes to foods. I have my own that are best for me to stay away from.

I know what it’s like to be in the store, hungry, and all those things I know I don’t need seem to taunt me to buy them.

After all, I’m hungry, right?

But then there’s the stronger part of my mind and body that knows better…. I know how empowering it is to know it’s there and leave it. I know how empowering it is to make good food choices and how I feel after the fact.

And yes, if you are hungry in the store ( a practice I do not recommend 😉 ) there is a plethora of foods that can help you that are healthy to snack on…. really. You don’t have to be drawn in at the candy when you are checking out.

It all takes practice. And determination. And failure.

Yes. I said failure.

You aren’t going to nail this each and every time. In the beginning it will be a struggle. With repeated efforts of success and failure you will eventually have more success than not ( this is where determination comes in… and a bit of stubbornness doesn’t hurt either)

As you practice this you will develop new strength, new strength is empowering when you walk away from something. It gradually turns into something you will just automatically do.

Assess what it is. Think about if you really need it. Think about if it will support your health and fitness goals.

Make a choice.

And you know what, sometimes, it’s ok to get that candy bar.

I had done a long endurance session recently and by midafternoon my body was wanting just all out pure sugar. I’ve come to know this feeling occasionally since I’ve become involved in endurance sports.

I intentionally bought a candy bar. I can’t tell you the last time I had one. It was delicious. That feeling went away after. I haven’t wanted one since.

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It was good…

 

No guilt.

I fully knew I could’ve gotten a “healthier” treat. I also made a mindful decision that I wanted to get that candy bar.

It is empowering when you are in mindful control of making choices regarding what goes in your mouth and how you eat.

As you learn to make eating healthier a priority, you not only feel better and are more energetic, your tastes for the lesser quality food really will diminish. In time, you will find those desired foods will have less pull and it becomes quite easy to ignore them and never have them, and yeah, you won’t feel “deprived” either. You will however, feel empowered.

A successful healthy lifestyle will involve balance. Good days and bad days. The key to success is to keep moving forward. Learn to enjoy how you feel when you make more aware choices of what you eat and when you choose a better option.

In time, it will come almost effortlessly to you.

Tell me was there or has there been a time you’ve felt deprived because you didn’t think you could have some type of food? How do you feel when you make a better choice or a more purposeful decision in what you eat?

Iodine And Your Thyroid Health

I stumbled over the article quite by accident doing research for a post I was working on.

“Female athletes at risk for iodine deficiencies”

What? And what the heck does iodine have to do with anything?

Ok. The facts I do know or am cognitively aware of regarding iodine.

It’s a mineral. Our bodies need it. Our bodies don’t make it. I understood our thyroids need it ( but didn’t know to what extent till I started this project) I knew historically way back in the day Morton’s Salt Company started putting iodine in salt and…well… boom. No more health issues.

That’s it to the whole iodine story. Right?  Nod your head. It’s all you knew about iodine too… admit it.

Ok as a female athlete, I  obviously perked up on that story and checked it out. I mean, come on, I don’t want to be deficient in anything.

Fair to say when you meet with your doctor for your yearly check in, iodine probably doesn’t come up on the list of labs he’s doing for you.

( and for the educational record, all of our excess iodine leaves our bodies by way of urination after our bodies have scooped up what they need that day. Unless you’re also an athlete, then it up’s the game even more as we lose it through sweating as well)

After reading the article, it had some questions at the end to answer. 5 to be exact. If you answered yes to even one you had the potential to be iodine deficient.

I answered “yes” to 3 out of 5.

( do I exercise regularly, do I use less or no salt on my food, do I use sea salt instead of table salt were my “yes” answers)

I have taught myself over the years to use more cracked pepper for seasoning on my food than salt.  I also started using sea salt several years ago because I liked that it took a little amount to season my food, meaning less sodium.

Here’s what I learned on that topic… sea salt, the fancy pink salt or any other non-table salts…. none of them are iodized.

This is what put me on the road to learning more about this mineral, how it works and the role it plays in our bodies as humans, but also the role it plays for athletes. AND to figure out if I had any type of deficiency based on my answers and my athletic lifestyle.

First, some facts.

Iodine is a highly water soluble trace element that is rare in the earths crust but fairly prevalent in it’ seas. It’s also referred to as the “forgotten mineral”, it simply gets little to no acknowledgement in todays health world.  It is used by nearly every tissue in the body . This mineral is necessary for total body health and proper metabolic function. It is largely stored in the thyroid, but adrenal glands, ovaries, breasts, thymus, brain, stomach, and pancreas all require iodine, but the thyroid takes the lions share. of your daily intake in order to create the hormones  that regulate metabolism, generate body heat, and keep all your tissues functioning properly.

Thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are manufactured in the thyroid gland using iodine. Iodine consumed in the diet circulates in the bloodstream and is selectively taken up by the thyroid gland where, through a series of complex biochemical reactions, it is attached to tyrosine and eventually incorporated in the thyroid hormones T4 and T3.

These thyroid hormones are stored in the thyroid gland until a chemical signal from the pituitary gland, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), activates their release into circulation. Once in the cell, thyroid hormones help to regulate metabolism and create energy and body heat.

When the thyroid is low on iodine these hormones decrease which can lead to fatigue, cold hands and feet, weight gain, dry skin, weak nails, hair loss, muscle aches, depression, constipation, even cancer and miscarriage.

Women have a special problem being that estrogen inhibits the absorption of iodine and can put us at risk for deficiency.

Our bodies need it in relatively small amounts to function properly. However, this is a mineral we do not produce. Without proper iodine levels our thyroids cannot function properly as it feeds off this mineral. A long time ago, before you and I hit the earth, people had issues with goiters and other awful things because of a lack of iodine. Once that was figured out, those issues largely began to drop. In 1924 Mortons Salt company began iodizing table sale which virtually eliminated those health issues. Interestingly enough, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are other common symptoms of deficiency. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism world wide.

However, the numbers in current terms are rather staggering….. according to research iodine deficiency has increased fourfold over the past 40 years and 74% of adults may not get adequate amounts! With doctors suggesting people reduce salt for good health the main “source” of iodine, and salt only having a certain level of bioavailability from iodine, with overall healthier lifestyles there has become a greater increase of deficiencies.

The RDA ( recommended daily allowance, here in the USA) is 150 micrograms for men and women, 220 for pregnant women and 290 for women breastfeeding however these numbers seem to be outdated as this guideline is sufficient enough to prevent goiters  and mental retardation but doesn’t address other symptoms of the thyroid or active lifestyles where it could be depleted. Sort of like the RDA for Vitamin D to prevent rickets. There is a base amount to prevent that, but humans can handle more than the RDA level.

There  are suggestions from my research that although 150 micrograms is the barebones amount people need to prevent health problems, upwards of 1100 mcg’s are tolerable for adults.

Keep in mind, as people often do, they buy into a thought that “if a little is good, a lot will be better”. Not true. Although toxicity is rare to much iodine can cause the thyroid to respond in negative ways. High levels of iodine can cause some of the same symptoms as deficiency , including goiter or thyroid gland inflammation. The thyroid is very sufficient in what it does and only needs so much to function properly.  To much can push it towards hypothyroid symptoms.

So, who’s at risk?

Back to my opening thought, my reasons for pursuing this topic. I’ve been blown away at the information on it, not only from my original intent of learning how it affects me as an athlete but the fact it’s a topic with a lot of information out there. In my research I’ve tried to steer clear of “extreme” thoughts and find common, intelligent information that consistently supports the topic.

As stated earlier, athletes are at higher risk for deficiency due to sweat losses, as well as the fact our bodies flush iodine through urination as well, A liter of sweat contains about 40 mcg’s of iodine which means we could easily lose up to that 150 mcg (baseline amount) without replenishing it through food sources, a multi vitamin, table salt, or a supplement, the chances of deficiency increase.

I had done my  own “sweat test” one day before a workout. I knew I lost a good deal of fluid but I had decided to do my own experiment for a post here on my blog.  I weighed in before and after, sans clothes, and charted my weight. In that particular workout I was a little over 3 lbs less when I finished… that was about 6 1/2 cups of fluid.  A liter contains 4.2 cups. That information alone tells me I could deplete myself considering it was almost a daily norm for me.

I learned that athletes performing at high intensity for prolonged periods of time, particularly in a humid environment, have significantly increased risk of becoming iodine deficient if they don’t pay special attention to replacing this important nutrient through diet, iodine-containing nutritional supplements, or iodized salt.

Looking at those questions on that little test, I fit a profile of an athlete who eats healthy, had already reduced salt, was using sea salt ( sparingly), exercised daily and sweated a lot. As I mentioned earlier, it came as a surprise to me that sea salt and all of it’s fancier counterparts are not iodized.

So what’s the verdict?

Without testing or overarching symptoms, you cannot diagnose you have a deficiency. An iodine loading test can be done to see how much iodine your body retains. Talking with your doctor would be the first and most important course of action if you are concerned over this.

As I obviously fall into a category that might plug me in as “potentially” deficit, I would first discuss any supplements and any testing with my doctor. On my own I will seek out natural food sources to support my iodine intake ( see some foods below).

The main thing I need to cautious over is the fact I am already hypothyroid. I  never really bring this up because well, I really don’t want to be defined by anything. I see my doctor yearly for labs, take my meds faithfully and on time every single day, and pretty much do my own thing and don’t think about it.  Athletically, I don’t feel it’s held me back in anyway.  From all I’ve learned though, taking on a supplement of any kind if you already have this condition could mess with your thyroid production. An supplement needs to be started with a small dosage to allow you time to adapt to it.

Eat healthy, it’s good for you regardless.

Below are some foods that naturally have iodine. By eating a iodine rich diet you should easily maintain a healthy level in your body. It should also be noted, if you take a multi vitamin, they have added the 150 mcgs in for you. But also as noted, that is a very bare bones minimum for a daily intake.

Iodized salt… just one gram can offer 77 micrograms of iodine.

Sea veggies. Seaweed offers the highest amount of iodine on the planet (obviously) Ok… I’m going to try dried seaweed although the idea is kinda making me gag… I’ll let you know…Just a small amount a day is all it takes to easily cover you. Literally,  a quarter serving provides 4500 micrograms of iodine

 

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I wasn’t smiling after I tried it… but I can say at least I tried it, right? It tasted like I had indeed been at the ocean and accidently got seaweed in my mouth. It tasted like salt water, and as I kept chewing I thought it tasted like fish. Gah. It was like the candy in Willy Wonka that kept changing flavors. I will not be able to eat this.  Ewww.

 

Other foods sources that are more normal 😉 are ….

baked potatoes, milk, codfish, shrimp, turkey breast, tuna fish, boiled eggs, greek yogurt, bananas, strawberries, cranberries, canned corn, cheddar cheese, green beans, pineapple, watercress, and white bread.

Of course you can get iodine with a multi vitamin and ramping up weekly intake of fish, milk, yogurt and other food sources from the list.

And finally….

There is a lot of information on this topic and interest in the “forgotten” mineral of iodine that you can continue to read on.

You are your own best advocate in regards to your health and well being. If you have questions or concerns on iodine deficiency, starting with your doctor would be the first consideration.

Of course, intentionally eating whole foods that offer rich iodine sources are the best way to give your body what it needs to function and be healthy.