Food Vs. Supplements

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Commercials. If there’s one thing they are designed for it’s to sell you on the product at hand.  To convince you that your life will be better with it. They want to make you spend your money on it.

You name it, nothing seems to be off limits anymore. One has caught my eye several times for an anti-aging skin care product… not because I put much stock in products that promote that. The cream supposedly has blackberry extracts to contribute to keeping a young look.

Of course my first thought was… why not just eat those suckers instead of using a cream that may have a touch of blackberry extract in it? They are a staple in my food consumption almost every day… I think it’s better eating them than slathering them on my eyes…

Blackberries are loaded with Vitamin C with a serving at 3.5 oz, offering 35% of the daily allowance, that serving is only 43 calories, and they are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. A serving offers 5.3 grams of fiber. This humble fruit is also loaded with all kinds of vitamins and minerals and antioxidant properties. These antioxidant compounds protect against aging, inflammation, cancer and other neurological diseases…their dark color is a sign of their high antioxidant content.

Now back to the skin care with blackberries being marketed as an anti-aging cream.

If blackberries are loaded with so many good things in such a tiny package, and are a huge anti-aging food, you should be eating them up and not just slathering a bit of cream on your skin that may have miniscule amounts in it.

You’ve heard that saying you are what you eat? Nourish your body from the inside out.

There’s a huge market right now for supplements and health products on the market. They all offer a replacement option to the actual thing… real food.

Vitamins. Minerals. Health aids. Probiotics. Protein powders. Colorful drinks. Meal “replacements”.

That’s my favorite. I don’t want a meal “replacement”.

I want real food, thank you.

This, that and the other. So many things vying for your attention and your money… mainly…. your money.

A quick stroll down the health and supplement aisle will have you believing you need these products to be healthy because well, you know, eating balanced, nutritious food just isn’t enough to keep you healthy, vital and energetic. Certainly you are lacking something…so take a supplement. Use our drink. Take this pill.

We’ve had this pushed at us for so long, we’ve started to buy into it…literally.

One of the biggest markets right now has to be with protein/supplements/shakes/add in’s etc.

Often people purchase thinking they need it, especially if they are spending time in the gym. I mean, isn’t that just a part of it? Like lifting, sweating, making gains.. you MUST be chugging down protein?

OK first… a quick look at what whey protein is

Milk is made up of two proteins, casein and whey.

Whey protein can be separated from the casein in milk or formed as a by-product of cheese making. Whey protein is considered a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is low in lactose content.

This is what you see mostly in the aisles of stores.

Whey protein is used for weight loss and to help protect and build muscles.

If you use it, it should in balance too. Over doing on protein supplements can cause health issues such as stomach pains, cramps, reduced appetite, nausea, headache and fatigue.

A friend recently sent me a story of a young woman who was training and working on building her body for fitness competitions.  She evidently lived on a pretty steady diet of protein supplements/drinks/high protein diet etc.

She was found unresponsive in her home and later died. Evidently she had a rare genetic disorder that stopped her body from breaking down protein properly. This caused ammonia to build up in her blood and an accumulation of fluid in her brain.  Unfortunately, this isn’t really tested for and only found after her death.

I know you’re sitting there thinking… “well, this is a rare thing so… people don’t need to really worry about this” …

the fact is, to much of anything isn’t good for us. Our body can only use and process so much protein at a time before the rest of it’s washed out. Excess protein will not make us have more muscles or achieve a better level of fitness.

I love protein and it definitely keeps me satisfied and from feeling hungry. I know it feeds my muscles and helps them to get stronger, and even grow a little. My protein comes from food sources, although, after long endurance workouts when my appetite is not there, I will use one for recovery just to get some carbs and protein in until my appetite returns.

People are “sold” on the idea that food isn’t enough. Or if a supplement/vitamin/ drink is good, more should be better.

We are bombarded with products in the store, online, and even what our neighbor is pedaling that is supposed to help us fix all of our ills ( which we don’t even know we have till we get the product to miraculously cure them all)  There are a few out there that are promising to “cure’ more and more things. Just note, I’ve seen new fine print that says it’s not FDA approved and that its not to prevent, cure or treat diseases)

Once again I’ll say this, our bodies are made in a beautiful balanced way, needing just a certain amount of vitamins and minerals for optimal health. To much of one thing could be enough to make you sick or throw off another vitamin or mineral in your body.

And don’t be lead astray by companies trying to sell you on the idea you’re “lacking” something and need to take their product. The only way you know you’re deficient in something is usually through the doctor after having lab work done. And if you are worried about something, talk to your health care professional!

Case in point… last year my husband had labs done and was found to be deficient in Vitamin D. Yes, he has been using a supplement with his nutrition to get his levels where they need to be.

Don’t be led astray that you “need” something without any evidence for it.

So here’s the deal…

good quality, nutritious food IS enough.

It is enough to give your body daily fuel, sustain it for workouts, your daily activities, and help you build a stronger more fit body if that’s your goal.

When you cut out non-essential foods that don’t contribute to your health and fitness goals and focus on eating nutritionally balanced foods, your body will respond, especially when you add in a good healthy dose of exercise.

So many of the problems we deal with today can be improved on with better nutrition, getting the non-essential foods and drinks out, exercising more and maintaining a healthy weight.

You don’t need supplements, shakes, drinks, potions or anything else to build a healthy body. We need to be careful about extra things we put in it lest we throw off the perfect, beautiful, balance that its naturally made to operate in.

Do you or have you used supplements ? Do you feel they helped you?  Have you ever felt like you just had to go along with what was currently popular?

Understanding Emotional Eating

It’s 9:30 at night and you are for some reason, in the pantry studying the options, deciding what your poison will be. Cookies? Chips? Maybe the freezer is your thing… there are several varieties  of ice cream begging for attention.

You aren’t really hungry. Your stomach is quiet and you don’t have the physical signs of actually needing to eat food.

But there’s this driving urge in you….

And here you are… stalking the goods… out of what? Boredom? Loneliness? Anger? Hurt? Happy the day is over? Frustration? Hard day at work? Worry? Maybe you don’t even know.

Whatever the reason, it’s emotionally driven. You may be aware of it, or you may feel powerless against it. It may come on like a compelling urge and you act purely instinctively on it without pausing to think of what you are doing.

Many times, it may be completely mindless. Eating as you feed your mind food for your emotional needs.

Emotional eating is only a problem when it becomes a persons central response to  regulating their mood. It is a coping strategy.

What is emotional eating, exactly?

Stress eating. using food to make yourself feel better, eating to satisfy emotional needs rather than physical hunger.

Occasional eating for reasons other than hunger isn’t bad. Some degrees of emotional eating is normal. Food is typically the focus on holidays, celebrations, life events, funerals, weddings, etc.

However, if it is your “go to” , your primary coping mechanism, then there’s a problem.

You are in an unhealthy cycle where the real problem isn’t being addressed.

~ Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food.

~ Feels good in the moment but then you are left with guilt of eating whatever is bugging you.

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Identifying… are you an emotional eater?

Do you eat more when stressed?

Do you eat when you aren’t hungry or are full?

Do you eat to feel better? ( calm or soothe yourself)

Do you reward with food?

Do you regularly eat till you are stuffed?

Does food make you feel safe or like it’s a friend?

Do you feel powerless or out of control with it ?

Emotional eating craves specific comfort/ junk food or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush.

Mindless eating is not satisfied when full. Emotional hunger is not in the stomach. This also leads to negative feelings ( guilt, shame, regret) eating what you feel you shouldn’t have.

Food self soothes. Emotional eating is an attempt to manage moods with food.

Identifying triggers

it’s helpful to assess yourself and understand what can set you off. Situations, places, feelings, etc can cause you to reach for food.

Triggers wont always be negative but can be triggered by positive emotions too ( a reward for a goal, birthdays)

I mean really, who is ever actually hungry for birthday cake or some Christmas cookies? We eat it because it’s enjoyable and we are celebrating.

Common causes of emotional eating

Stress, stuffing emotions, boredom, loneliness, feelings of emptiness, social influences or even ingrained childhood habits can lead to overeating.  It’s important to find other ways to feed your feelings, alternate behaviors that have nothing to do with food.

If you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t revolve around food you won’t be able to control your eating habits for long. Diets often fail because they offer logical nutrition advice – IF- you have conscious control over your eating habits.

They don’t/won’t work when emotions take over demanding a swift payoff of comfort foods. To stop emotionally eating you must learn new ways to fulfill yourself emotionally.

Understanding the cycle and triggers is a huge first step. You need to learn alternates to turn to and not food.

How to help yourself

Pause. Think. Reflect = different decision.

Can you wait?

While you wait…check in with how your feeling… what’s your emotional status?

Are you truly hungry? as in experiencing natural signals of hunger? Or is it your mind/emotions talking?

You’ve attempted resistance in the past with the belief that your willpower isn’t enough.

The truth is you have more power over your cravings than you believe.

Really.

By checking in with yourself, pausing, examining what it is you’re feeling you are more likely to make a different choice than just eating whatever you have in mind.

Learn to accept good and bad feelings. The root of emotional eating is feeling powerless over your emotions. You can’t deal with them so you avoid feelings with food.

Become a more mindful eater.

Mindful eating is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and your food.

Think about the foods you buy. Do you buy healthy foods? Do you buy trigger foods that will contribute to times of emotional eating? Think of what foods will nourish you.

Come to the table hungry. Not ravenous, but with your body giving you it’s natural signals it needs to eat.

Start with small amounts. I’m always amazed, really, at the small amount of food it takes to feed myself and deal with my hunger.

Learn to really appreciate your food. I make jokes to hubby about how amazing food tastes when I’m seriously hungry ( like after long workouts and I’m finally ready for food) not only does it taste awesome, it feels good going in ’cause I am really hungry. I have an appreciation for food with true hunger.

How it tastes and the satisfaction are so different than eating when you aren’t really hungry.

Bring all your senses with you to the table. Learn to smell, savor, and visually appreciate what you are eating.

Take small bites, chew well, and learn to eat slowly.  Doing so will let you really taste and enjoy your meal while allowing your stomach to register that it has had enough food.

Becoming a mindful eater also means staying connected with your feelings and how it impacts your choices in your day with food. It’s practice but with practice you can become more mindful of reasons why you eat when you aren’t hungry or feel like you’re emotions are driving you.

Some reflective thoughts….

I’ve shared several times in blogs my own awareness of coming out of a family of emotional eaters. I’ve talked about learning about myself and being mindful of it in my own life. Understanding that definitely helped me on my weight loss journey.

Sometimes I make very mindful choices that I want something, knowing full well, I don’t need it. Hubby wandered into the kitchen one night to find me perched on the counter top with a bag of chips, munching away.

I told him “I am fully cognizant I’m emotionally eating these right now” and the fact was, there had been some thing or another that had made me feel angst and I just wanted those stupid chips.

The thing about knowing and understanding it’s what I was doing? I ate some, reined myself in, and put them away.

I was mindful of my actions.

You might need time to get there. Maybe you’re at a point where somehow the bag disappears on you. Or maybe more cookies than you intended. Or a whole lotta ice cream vanishes. Or whatever your brand of poison is.

It might require work and effort on your part. It might be times of failure and times of success. The more you mentally engage with it, the closer you will get to not feeding your emotions.

This is such a big topic, you might find more on it in the future here. I think many struggle with it and it prevents the success they long for with weight loss. Gaining insight and understanding can help lead to success.

Do you have thoughts on this?

Have you struggled with emotional eating? Did you find ways to change it?  Do you struggle now? What has made you aware of it?

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The Dangerous Game Of Off Limits Foods

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Just let the quote I have posted breathe over you for a few minutes. Think about it.  Can you relate on some level whether it’s now or at some point on your health journey ? It resonated deeply with me the first time I read it.

It’s a thought that permeates our society right now. An out of control, crazy way of thinking.

And it’s designed to have failure as the ultimate outcome.

“Good foods/bad foods”, ” Eliminate food groups”, “Sugar is like cocaine”, “Carbs are bad”. “Fat is bad”…..

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Every single one of those thoughts can potentially set you up for failure when it comes to eating and nourishing your body.  Setting up negative thoughts is exactly why so many people struggle with their relationship with food.

You may not like to think of it that way, but you do. We all do.

Those relationships can look really different for all of us.

Food can represent a power struggle in both directions. To one extreme it can result in eating disorders like anorexia… withholding food.

It can go the other direction which is bulimia, a complete out of control power with food.

It can also be the act of just over eating. Eating more than our bodies need for nourishment and health which leads to being overweight. Eating to feed a deeper need than physical hunger…  like emotional eating.

Our relationship with food can become rigid where everything is monitored that is taken in. Food becomes a task master to keep after and keep under a tight rein. It’s thought of constantly.

Or we may be fortunate to have developed a healthy relationship with it naturally on our own, or through our own health journey and arriving there through life experiences.

When we begin to set foods apart, good or bad,  putting them in an off limits category, and tell ourselves we can’t have them or that they are bad we start to give food a lot more power than it needs to have.

A part of learning and building new habits is to keep food in a “neutral zone”.

Food is food.

Don’t demonize it or put yourself on some restrictive way of living so all you do is think of those “forbidden” foods.

Do you see the danger of giving certain foods so much power in your life ? It’s designed to keep you from being successful.

Why?

You restrict foods, take them away, label them as bad, or you decide food group “x” isn’t something you are going to eat anymore ’cause that’s the current hyped up trend going on ( not that you have any health issues dictating it) but you’re participating in it.

You really love those foods and will miss them … where do you think your mind will be ?

Exactly.

Smack on the things you’ve set up as “off limits” which will only continue to warp your relationship with food and it’s a dangerous process.

I guess I fall in the camp of figuring out my relationship with food on my journey of health and fitness.

I shared in another blog that I grew up in a family of emotional eaters. I was one too and figured it out as I grew in my understanding of my relationship with food. I’d say I largely have it under control, although there are moments I am aware I’m eating for a reason other than hunger.

I tried many “diets” through my life. Ultimately, all I could wait for was for it to be over and get back to “normal”. ( I see you nodding your head. You know what I mean). Good times.

I’d say THE single biggest factor in my success ( I’m 8 years out now so I think I can address this)

I put nothing “off limits”.  Nothing.

You know what that did? It took all power out of anything that may have been forbidden.

I know what you’re thinking…. “Oh, then you probably just went off the wagon all the time”

No. I didn’t. I’m a big girl and certainly have the ability to control what I stuff in my mouth. But it did keep me from over thinking on food.

If my family went to get a burger ( which was an occasional treat) I wanted to enjoy it with them and not sit there forlornly eating a tub of pale iceberg lettuce with two tomatoes in it.

You might think that would send me off the deep end. Like… throw in the towel. Not at all. I continued my commitment to what I was doing. My daily focus on food was to eat well, eat moderate, and allow some treats to be factored in on my weight loss journey.

Now hear me. Although I don’t like to label foods, we can agree that there are some that aren’t the best for our health goals or the best to eat on a frequent basis. I kept that in mind too.

Fried/processed foods, drive thru meals, sugar, alcohol, simple carbs like cookies, cake, chips, candy, sodas, sugar drinks etc. can be tasty treats but must be handled with moderation.

I wasn’t to crazy at all about the idea of giving up chocolate to lose weight! I learned that a small amount, savored, often was enough to satisfy me. I didn’t need to just keep consuming it because it was there.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. The most successful people I know have done it with a non-restrictive balance in their lives.

Do I have trigger foods?

You bet I do. I know that it’s just not a smart move to bring home any type of kettle potato chip unless I’ve got people there eating them with me. 😛

It’s been a learning process.

Learning to trust myself with food. I don’t have to eat it because it’s there or have a “last supper” mentality and consume it all because I may never get it again.

Learning to listen to my body and it’s natural signals.

Learning to not be horribly restrictive to prevent the caving in and eating whatever because I felt deprived.

Learning to make better choices that supported my overall health and fitness goals.

I have learned….

to know my body and what makes me feel good and energetic.

I feel better eating lots of veggies and fruit. I have learned some foods just make me feel more sluggish or bloated and I’d rather pass on them. Lean meats, veggies, and good whole grain carbs keep me energetic and decently lean.

Those foods that used to have a pull on me don’t so much anymore. Healthy eating is natural and comfortable to me now.

I’ve learned to be patient with myself. Some days just might not be that great and it’s ok if I get up and keep going. The “not so great days” though have become less and less as this has become my lifestyle and I’ve built permanent habits.

Forward, slow, steady progress is the best kind of progress. It lasts.

I’ve learned a lot about nutrition. I eat adequate, good food to nourish my body three times a day and I don’t really think about food much anymore… except when my tummy is yelling at me 😉

I’ve learned life is a beautiful journey and it will have birthdays, and holidays and celebrations and food is a big part of those things. Finding balance and being able to enjoy those times is one of the best things about not having “off limits” foods. I have learned I can have my treats and it doesn’t undo all of my hard work. The best part? Not having that self-imposed “guilt” that used to come with it.

I don’t know where you are on your journey of health and fitness. If you struggle with food and are trying to understand your relationship with it, I hope that you at least begin to not cast foods into off limits groups. I hope you give yourself the freedom to eat well, to learn about yourself in the journey, and that you will find perfect balance in your personal relationship with food.

In summary

Know your relationship with food.

Don’t categorize food. Food, is simply, food.

Learn to know your body and listen to it.

Nourish it with healthy foods the majority of time and allow occasional treats.

Trust yourself.

Don’t practice a restrictive lifestyle.

Walk the road you are on. Slow and steady will last a lifetime.

Don’t quit.

Where are you on your journey? Do you feel like you have balance in your relationship with food? Have you set foods up as good or bad and then changed your thinking ? How did that help you?

 

 

 

What’s Your “Why” For Good Health

 

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What’s your why?  Why do you do what you do? All of us have “whys” for things we do in our lives.

Let’s take that to our health and fitness goals.

Why do you want to do it? Or why are you out there every day going after it ?

More energy? Better health? To do something you’ve never done? To build your confidence? To daily activities easier? To be strong and empowered?

If you are like many I talk to, they want to but haven’t nailed down their “why” for getting fit or losing weight.

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I think, it’s a reason many people start, stop, and quit.

I was talking to a young woman the other night. She’s half my age. The conversation started that she didn’t believe I had ever been heavier or not fit. ( my daughter had informed her of that 😛 )

I’ve taken pictures since I started my health journey because it tells a much bigger story than numbers on a scale.  I showed them to her.

8 years ago I was a much softer, fluffier version of me. I was also quite a bit heavier.  My arms were soft with no muscle definition as were my legs.

I hadn’t looked at the photos in awhile so it was like a rapid fire look through my transition of the past few years.

Change definitely takes time.

Then she asked me..

“So why did you do it? What made you start?”

I have my own “whys” for getting started on my health and fitness journey.

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My check up with my doctor that year was my turning point. It became my “why”.

I knew I was packing pounds I didn’t need, and I knew I wasn’t getting the exercise my body needed.

I also knew my family history and that my mom and grandmother were both obese and had many health problems associated with being to fat. My grandmother had a heart attack at 50.  Her and my mom had high blood pressure and diabetes. My mom eventually developed kidney issues, having two transplants and ultimately being on dialysis. My father, although having really no contact with him, I knew he was overweight and had diabetes. He ultimately died of a heart attack.

I was 46 the year of that check up.

Knowing I was still healthy and had the power to change things settled on me.

My “whys” became so I didn’t walk the same paths as family members before me. To be healthy for myself and for my family.

My “why” for starting was fairly simple and uncomplicated.

Lose weight. Stay healthy.

I had no idea the journeys I would go on in the upcoming years.

I guess the rest, is history. I made the choices I did and in that I found activities I love and have become passionate about.

Never, ever would I have thought I’d become a runner. Or a cyclist. Or that I’d be pursuing both at the same time for a race.

I’ve learned to eat more good foods than not. It’s all worked together.

My “whys” turned into, “why not’s”.

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She started telling me her story, one that is familiar to me now as many people have similar ones.

She just wanted to lose weight.  She wanted to get back to working out.

So I asked her… “Why? Why do you want to?”

One of her first responses was “well I want to get back to the weight I was in high school”

I told her that was great, but what was so wonderful about that weight?  Did she think it would make her happier or more successful? Why did she think that was a reason for getting started?  (And for the record, your high school weight was great when you were 17 but it might not be where you need to be today in the body you are in now)

Talking it out for a bit she finally admitted “well I know I was pretty thin and wasn’t taking care of myself like I should”

Maybe that isn’t a good why reason.

We kept talking and she said “well I would like to lose weight because I’ll just feel better about myself, and doing that makes me feel more confident”

Ok, good reasons. Now we were slowing getting somewhere.

She talked about her son and how she wanted to be healthy for him and how she wanted to be able to do things with him. She mentioned how she bought him all these healthy foods and she didn’t focus as much on her own nutrition.

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I asked her why she thought taking care of herself wasn’t a priority. (note… you get no bonus points in life for putting yourself on the back burner)

We continued talking and brainstorming as I listened to her share her story with me.

She finally admitted she needed to consider her health as a priority as much as her sons was.

Now… now we were getting somewhere.

She was getting to her “why” for wanting to do it. More than just a vague acknowledgement of wanting to lose weight.

We all need to come to the point where we can answer our own “why” for wanting to lose weight and get fit. Then we must begin to remove the excuses that keep us from moving forward to our goals.

It might be fun to think of getting to your high school weight or losing 10 lbs before a class reunion but is that going to be enough to get you going?

To keep you going ?

You have to examine it beyond a surface thought of “I just want to lose weight” to a deeper level that will keep you motivated to reaching your goals.

Making your own list of why you want to get healthier and fit is a good way to move towards making it happen.

As you make a list think of how losing weight will help you. How will you feel? What will you be able to do easier that you can’t now? What health needs do you need to address? How will losing weight improve them? How do you feel about yourself right now? Would losing weight help you with a more positive attitude about yourself?

You can apply similar thoughts to getting fit and eating better.  Losing weight doesn’t just change our bodies, but it changes how we feel about ourselves and that in turn affects the rest of our lives.

Getting to your own reasons for why you want to lose weight, get fit or stronger and healthier is a key step to actually accomplishing those things in your life.

What was your “why” reason for weight loss and getting in shape?

 

 

Exercise And Aging

Exercise ~ activity requiring physical effort carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.

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Exercise. I might have made some attempts to sell you on the idea 😉

Ok.. maybe I feel a bit passionate about it. Maybe I know once you get started, get over that “obstacle” that holds you back from committing to it and making it a new habit in your life, you will not be able to imagine not doing it in your day.

I don’t know what your “obstacle” is.  But if you aren’t doing it and make excuses not to, you have an obstacle.

Exercise really isn’t something that we naturally and inherently flock to… like… “ohhhhh yes! Of course I want to feel uncomfortable and sweat and breathe hard and have my heart pounding out of my chest!”

No one does. This is the point we can see, feel and know … ugh… we are really out of shape. In turn, this makes us feel worse, feel inadequate and that we’ll never “get there”.

We quit before we start.

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Exercise then, is something we must teach ourselves to do.  We have to push through our own personal obstacles.  We must do it until it begins to feel weird if we don’t do it.

We’ve got to turn it into a new habit.

Building new habits my friends, takes time and a healthy amount of determination.

I recently ran into an woman I had gone to school with. I don’t think I’ve seen her in person since then ( she’s only seen me via social media). We chatted about many things when the convo turned to exercise and she commented on my physique telling me how inspiring I was.  When I mentioned I didn’t start exercising till I was 46 she was shocked. I told her it was a few years later that my athletic side really started to kick in… when I started getting more serious about running and ultimately training for marathons.

She asked how I did it and I told her I just kept at it and didn’t quit. The rest is history.

When you press on and exercise every day ( or almost every day) your body responds in wonderful ways and there are tons of health benefits that come with it.

Here’s a few:

controls your weight, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, lowers blood pressure, reduces risks of some cancers, strengthens bones and muscles, improves your mental health and mood, increases your chance of living longer, and improves your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult.

Let’s not forget things also like gaining new energy, confidence, and overall feeling good. If you’re looking for the fountain of youth more and more research suggests exercise is the key to it. In order to stay healthy you have to keep your cells young.  Exercise forces new cell growth and turn over in our bodies causing an anti aging effect ( this is sooo simplified right now. Maybe I’ll do a blog on just this idea … stay tuned!)

Let’s just say this.. our “chronological” age is pretty well set and that’s something we have no control over. Our “biological” age… we have a huge amount of control over.

This is why two people the same chronological age can look years different.

Ok if all that isn’t enough let’s just focus on the part about being older and still being able to do daily activities and being strong and balanced so you don’t fall. Falls are one of the leading causes of death in older people and reasons as well why they are in care homes.

You don’t want to wait till you’re “old” to start exercising. You start now wherever you are. Being fit and strong is something that you will draw from as you get older. There is a huge misconception that getting old means you get weak and frail. That you lose strength because you are.

No. You get weak and frail because you’ve stopped using your body and the old saying is true “use it or lose it”.  But at some point in your 30s, you start to lose muscle mass and function. The cause is age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30.  This is what contributes to weakness and not being able to do things as people get older.

You must counteract all of that to preserve and build muscle. Enter strength training and muscle building exercise.

You can’t wake up old and decide to pop some Geritol or some magic pills and hope they will carry you through. Ideally you work out and you work hard, most days of the week. Then as you age your body is used to labor and the things you’ve done help you maintain balance and strength ( hopefully protecting you or totally keeping you from falling) you then live a strong, energetic, and independent life doing the things you like and want.

But… you’ve got to start now. It’s like saving money. You don’t have any to draw on if you don’t save it.

Goes like that with exercise. If you want something to draw on years from now, you need to start now. You work your body every day and let it do things that will help you live strong and independent when you’re older.

If you don’t know where to start, start walking. Everyone can do it and it’s generally safe for most people. Be sure to walk briskly and move at a steady pace for at least 30 minutes. You will seriously want to incorporate some strength training in your week too.

Think of activities you like that you might want to try. Experimenting is one of the best ways to find your passion.

Focus on taking one day at a time. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses to not do it. Think of how you’ll feel when you are finished… strong, accomplished, clear headed and moving forward to a healthier more fit you now, and in the future  🙂

exercise

Goldilocks And Oatmeal

I thought we’d talk about food today.  I like eating it and I’m fairly sure you do too 😉 last week I did a blog on veggies so if you missed it check it out before you go ( Veggie Tales).

Like veggies, this other food gets a bad rap and many people don’t like it or have horrible childhood memories of  their mother forcing them to eat it.

This particular food  has interested me for awhile but I haven’t really investigated it much until recently.

Ok I know you’re sitting on the edge of your chair in eager anticipation wondering what it is…..

Oatmeal my friends. Oatmeal.

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This may or may not be my childhood picture 😉

 

Now stay with me… don’t get out of that chair and leave just yet. There’s a new kid on the oatmeal block called steel cut oats, and maybe like Goldilocks from the Three Bears story,  I’m in pursuit of the oatmeal ( or porridge 😉 that’s “just right”.

This isn’t your moms oatmeal you could paste walls with. I can say that ’cause I’ve had it too. Often it comes in little packages already loaded with sugar and you add hot water and stir till mush.  Oh I know they’ve upgraded to little cute containers now but the operations are still the same. Maybe you like the idea of oatmeal but you just can’t get past the gooey consistency of it.

Let’s talk about steel cut oats and the difference between them and rolled oats.

The difference between rolled and steel cut oats is that while both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted, ending up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.

Quick or instant oats are the most processed of the varieties. They are pre-cooked, dried, then rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats. They cook more quickly than rolled or steel cut but retain less of their texture and can cook up mushy.

Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been cut into 2 or 3 pieces for a relatively unprocessed product.

Nutritionally, steel cut oats are almost identical to old fashioned oats.  Regularly eating steel cut oats gives you the same health benefits as eating rolled oats.  A diet that includes oats may decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

So if all varieties offer up very close, similar nutrition, why eat steel cut oats?

What sets steel cut apart is how they compare on the glycemic index. ( this is how slow or fast foods process in the body which can cause blood sugar up’s and downs)

The less-processed steel-cut oats have a much lower glycemic load than higher-processed quick oats. Low-GI foods slow down the rate that glucose (sugar) gets introduced into your body, and in contrast, high-GI foods cause a spike in your blood sugar as well as insulin, causing you to crave more sugary foods when your glucose levels drop. The best option then are the steel-cut oats, with rolled oats a great second choice. They’ll keep you feeling fuller longer, which will keep your energy levels up and help you lose weight.

This also makes it great for diabetics who need to monitor their foods more closely.

Ok and another selling point ? As mentioned above, quick oats can be very mushy which causes many people to stay away or remember bad childhood experiences with them.

Steel cut oats look like chopped up rice, take the longest to cook, yet maintain a slightly chewy consistency, which I found out I really like. Once it’s cooked it still has shape to it.

I decided to try these oats in a quest for a food that would give me long lasting energy and not bother my tummy when I took off for long endurance workouts.

Anytime I’m going to be on the road for over an hour, especially an hour and a half or more, I know I need to get a “mini” meal in. I used to feel like I shouldn’t do that… like have a pre-meal and then come in hours later and eat… eat twice?!

Sigh. How crazy my thinking used to be.  Much like taking off on a trip in your car with almost no gas, it’s as crazy to think of hitting the road for miles on foot or bike and not be properly fueled.

A pre-meal is usually a couple hundred calories. My usual choice for breakfast involves plenty of protein and veggies. However, I need some solid carbs in my system more than protein before I do long endurance workouts ( remember boys and girls, carbs, are energy 😉 ) so I save the eggs for after my workouts.

I had tried a half a bagel but after I had been out for awhile felt like it was expanding  in my tummy. I tried various cereals. Some things worked better than others. I tried the standard banana but that was just teasing my stomach after it had been fasting all night.

I got quite good at going on empty but that only works so well before my performance starts to suffer.

I know my limits of what workout/distance  I can go empty on and what distance/workout I need a pre-meal.

Traditional steel cut oats take a long time to cook and there are lots of slow cooker recipes and tips to cook them. However, I found a faster cooking one in the store. These take about 4-5 minutes to cook.

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They have no added sugars so I can add what I want. Typically, it’s some dried low sugar Craisins, a few raw nuts (almonds or walnuts) a dusting of brown sugar for a bit of sweet, and some milk to blend it together.

It makes for a solid, hearty pre-breakfast for me before running or cycling…or both 😛

 

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I love the consistency as it definitely retains its shape and the texture is a bit chewy but it definitely takes it away from the mushy category.  Steel cut oats definitely shine in the texture and flavor departments.

One tip I’ve read to enhance the flavor is lightly toasting them before you cook. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to try that 😉

Once you cook your steel cut oats, the topping ideas are endless and you can be as creative or basic as you want.

Consider some of these choices:

Peanut butter, or almond butter.

Jelly, jam or apple sauce.

Yogurt or a splash of cream

Fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries or raspberries.

Dried fruit like craisins, cherries, blueberries etc

Toasted chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pecans

Flax seed or chia seeds

Toasted or raw coconut

The ideas are endless. Adding in healthy combinations gives you a solid meal to start your day and give you energy.

If you need a good energy source before a hard workout, this is a great source of long lasting carbs.

Now… I hope I’ve sold you on the idea of steel cut oats… forget the old mushy oatmeal idea and  be like Goldilocks and go experiment with the new kid on the block. You might find steel cut oats are “just right”.

You can thank me later 😉

 

Veggie Tales

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

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

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

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

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

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

All. day. long.

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

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

It’s a miracle I still eat eggs.

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

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

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

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

But beautiful, colorful, fresh produce?

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

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

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

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

Pure. Heaven.

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

roasted veggie

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

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

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

veggie-cooking-cheat-sheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

benefits-of-specific-foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to me. Just eat your veggies.

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

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

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

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