Does Your Decaf Coffee Come With a Side Of Paint Thinner?

cup-of-coffee

I love my morning coffee!

Lots of times, I like to have another hit after my workout.  A few years ago, In an effort to be healthier, I started drinking half-caf.  What I learned from my son was that I could be drinking the same chemicals that are used for paint thinner!

When my son Nick was in college, he took a course called “The  Economics Of Coffee” (for which I probably paid a couple of thousand dollars!).  His professor said one of the most toxic foods on the market is commercial decaffeinated coffee.  I thought, “That couldn’t possibly be true.  The USDA wouldn’t allow such a thing.”  ( I used to be naive that way.) I assumed the professor was just trying to impress his students with alarmist statements.  But since I drank a lot of decaf,  I decided to research it for myself.  What I learned will really surprise you, considering how many people drink decaf coffee every day.  The professor wasn’t exaggerating!  Keep reading….

heisenbergcoffeeAccording to the specialty foods website TheNibble.com, “After tobacco and cotton, conventionally-produced coffee is the third most heavily-chemically treated crop in the world. Not only are some of the synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used banned in most western nations; they’re often used without any genuine regulatory supervision.”

decaffolgers

Regular commercial coffees:  In order to strip the caffeine from the bean, many brands use what is called the “direct process,” which uses the chemical methyl chloride.  According to OSHA.gov, methyl chloride is “used in various industrial processes, in many different industries including paint stripping, pharmaceutical manufacturing, paint remover manufacturing, and metal cleaning and degreasing… OSHA considers methylene chloride to be a potential occupational carcinogen.”  It is also used as a refrigerant, and of course, to strip caffeine from your coffee. Methyl chloride is preferred over other chemicals because it leaves most of the flavor intact.  The EPA monitors employees’ exposure to methyl  chloride very carefully, but FDA regulations consider up to 10 parts per million to be safe for consumption.  Yup.

Decaf

Organic Coffees:  According to FoxNews.com, the only two processes that can be labeled Certified Organic are the “natural process” and the “water process.”  The natural process removes the caffeine using the plant hormone ethyl acetate or carbon dioxide.  Ethyl acetate is present in fruits and wines.  The water process uses no chemical agents, just pure H2O.  The beans are soaked in hot water for a designated period of time, and the caffeine leaches out.  While organic coffees are gaining in popularity, they can be very hard to find in the grocery store.

Higher Prices. Will you pay more for organic coffee? Yes, almost certainly.  In a pinch, I paid $15.99 for the decaffeinated Organic Vermont Coffee Company shown above.  But at least I know what’s not in it!

What do you think?  Do you think organically-decaffeinated coffee is worth the extra money?

Is “Excessive Celebration Syndrome” Making You Gain Weight?

Fourth-Of-July-Office-Decorating-Ideas-4

The Fourth of July Weekend Is Here!

It’s time to celebrate, kick back, relax, and enjoy the long-awaited celebration!   Enjoy the fireworks, the hot weather, and the “Everything Under the Sun Buffet!”  On the menu: cheeseburgers, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, buttered corn on the cob, ice cream, and lemonade!  It only happens once a year, so go ahead and splurge!  Yippee!

Wait – hold on a second!  Didn’t we just say that last weekend at our Father’s Day barbecue? And the weekend before that at the graduation party?  And the kids’ end-of-the-year school party?

Is this really a special celebration, or just the featured celebration of the week?

Actually, the “celebration mentality” happens way more often than we like to think!  Sometimes it’s for a whole season!

Think of all the family birthdays, celebrations, and vacations that happen throughout the year.  Then add all of the official calendar holidays:

January – New Year’s and Martin Luther King Weekend

February – Valentine’s Day and February Break Week

March – St. Patrick’s Day

April – Spring Break Week and Easter – maybe a vacation, too!

May – Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day

June – Father’s Day, graduations, weddings and school end-of-year celebrations

July – 4th of July,  multiple barbecues and lots of hang time

August – Vacation

September – Oh shit!  Weighing in after a fun summer!

October – Halloween

November – Thanksgiving

December – Multiple parties and Christmas season (which adds an average of four pounds to September’s weight)

That’s a lot of celebrating!  If we were to enjoy each one of these occasions with a whole day of splurging, and then add the entire seasons of summer and Christmas, that’s a lot of “festive” eating! That’s more of a weekly pattern, not a special event!

Managing these occasions is key to successful weight management.

What I observe from my clients is that ones who are the most successful at losing weight are the ones who stick to their healthy habits consistently, even at parties.  They have their head in the game.  When they splurge, it’s never overboard; it’s usually one drink or dessert.  They choose their splurges wisely, and rarely drop their guard completely.  On the occasions when they do let themselves go, they get right back on track the next day.

How do you handle celebrations and barbecues?

Photo credit:   FourthOfJuly-2105.com

How To Stop Those Sugar Cravings!


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Do you ever crave sugar, even when you’ve just finished eating?

Do you start foraging the cabinets for just a little something to satisfy a sweet craving, especially after dinner?  Then before you even realize it, you’ve added another 200-400 calories of crap to an otherwise healthy day?  If this happens to you, you are not alone!  And it could be causing you a lot of undesired weight gain and unhealthy side-effects.  In case you didn’t know, this is the exact method that Sumo wrestlers use to put on weight; they eat a lot of empty calories and then go to bed.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The 10-Day Detox Diet,” it’s not a matter of having poor self-discipline.  “What happens is that your hormones are out of balance.”   There are a number of hormones that regulate your appetite including insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY.  If you can learn to regulate those hormones, then your appetite and cravings for sweets will diminish.  These four hormone levels are all disturbed by eating sugar, flour, and processed foods.  Another important hormone is cortisone, which is your stress hormone.  When you’re stressed, your level of cortisol increases, which raises your blood sugar level and your appetite (for sugar in particular).

So what can you do to regulate those hormones and stop those post-meal sweet cravings, and end the night-time binges on desserts and snacks?  Dr. Hyman suggests the following:

1.  Have protein for breakfast.  I usually eat eggs, but if you’re not a fan of eggs, try a protein shake.  You can put the following in a blender, and it will satisfy you for hours:  a tablespoon of hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almond butter, and coconut butter.  Then add some frozen cranberries and blueberries, topped with a little almond or hemp milk (unsweetened).  Blend until smooth.  If you’re not usually hungry for breakfast, I suspect that it’s because you ate a lot after dinner last night.  It’s all tied together.

2.  Don’t drink your calories.  Avoid any sweetened drinks like soda, iced tea, sports drinks, juices, lattes, or what I call “crappucinos.”  Many people don’t think of these drinks as sugar-laden, but they are, and they spike your blood sugar levels and increase your appetite.  Try to avoid adding artificial sugars to everything – even Stevia.  You want to stop whetting your appetite for the flavor of sugar all the time.

3.  Eat at regular times.  Have your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner at regular intervals.  This will help keep your appetite and blood sugar levels regulated, and keep your body in a good biological rhythm.

4.  Eat a combination of protein and healthy fat every time you eat.   Have some combination of nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, or olive oil, together with chicken, fish, or  grass-fed beef every time you eat.  Add lots of green leafy vegetables.  This will go a long way towards regulating your appetite and blood sugar levels.

5.  Manage your stress levels.  Have you ever heard that “Stressed spelled backwards is desserts?”  It’s true!  When you’re anxious or stressed, your appetite increases, and you will crave sweet food.  Try yoga, meditation, or exercise to help you balance your hormones again and reset your brain chemistry.

6.  GO TO BED!   Get a good night’s rest.  If you don’t get adequate, high-quality sleep, your hormones will be out of whack. The hormone that signals hunger (ghrelin) will increase, and the hormone that signals you to feel full (PYY) goes down.  So you will be hungry AND crave all the wrong things:  carbs and sugar.   The whole spectrum of health professionals recommend this consistently, but most people either don’t prioritize it, or vastly underestimate how much it affects their weight and health.

7.  Address your food allergies.  Most people don’t realize that a common sign of an allergy is that you crave the very food that you’re allergic or sensitive to.  And the two most common food sensitivities are dairy and gluten.   Try eliminating those two foods (dairy, flour and sugar) from your diet for a few weeks and see if your cravings stop.

8.  Supplements.  Fish oil, omega 3, and vitamin D3 tablets all help to regulate hormones and balance insulin levels.  Dr. Hyman also recommends what he refers to as a “Super Fiber” supplement called PGX.  If taken 10-15 minutes before meals and again after dinner, PGX will help to cut cravings, make you feel satisfied, and slow down insulin spiking.  NOTE:  You might be tempted to immediately order PGX on Amazon.com and then skip the rest of Dr. Hyman’s suggestions.  However, you can’t just supplement your way out of unhealthy eating habits.  To get off on to a running start, sure, this might be one way to get going.  But you need to COMMIT TO YOURSELF to a healthier way of eating, not just buy your way out of it or fix it with a pill.  (Takes one to know one – I myself felt like ordering a case of PGX when I heard his video).

As always, I suggest that you adopt ONE of these habits at a time, and then let me know how your night-time or after-dinner cravings go!  Good luck!

 

 

Photo from FitDay.com

How To Have Your Ice Cream – And Eat It, Too!

 

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Everyone loves a delicious ice cream on a hot summer day!

I try to be humble about it, but I consider myself to be quite the ice cream connoisseur.  I grew up right across the street from a Baskin Robbins, and one summer my best friend and I challenged each other to trying all 31 flavors one summer – TWICE (remember Pink Bubble Gum flavor?)  So there’s that.  (Obviously that was back in my heavier days as a kid.)

In high school, I was a waitress at Friendly’s Ice Cream Shop.  It was the best job ever, except of course for my present job!  I still remember how to make a Fribble, a Jim Dandy (banana split), and the ultimate:  The Reese’s Pieces Sundae.  Good times, good times.  And I’ve even toured Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Vermont, including the flavor graveyard.

I feel that all that experience qualifies me as an ice cream expert.  BUT – I learned some new things recently from an article posted by Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist from Cleveland Clinic, and author of “50 Ways To Soothe Yourself Without Food.”  It grabbed my attention because it was all about bringing mindfulness to eating ice cream.  (Anything that could enhance someone’s ice cream eating experience must be a good thing, right?)

Here’s the problem as I see it:  I talk and talk about my weekly dessert splurge, and it works for me because I’m usually satisfied by the time I get to the last mouthful.  But with ice cream, there’s just never enough.  It ends too soon.   And who doesn’t get sad when it’s over? I always want just a little more, and look to see if there might be one more spoonful to sneak from my husband’s cup. (Letting me do that was in our pre-nuptual agreement).  I suspect that I’m not really “savoring the flavor.”

The first thing Dr. Albers suggests is to eat ice cream from a cone rather than a cup.  According to a study in Eating Well Magazine, the flavor of ice cream is actually released when the fat within the ice cream warms up to your body temperature.  So by licking the ice cream, you’re actually releasing more flavor as it melts on your tongue, rather than if you have a plastic spoon insulate the ice cream from your tongue.  The other idea is that licking takes longer than spooning, so the experience is drawn out over a longer period of time.  WHAT??  That is such a crazy idea that it just might work!

The second step is to watch your portions:  While you’re standing in line waiting for your ice cream, observe the different scoop sizes.  Portions can vary from 5 ounces for a small to as much as 12 ounces for a large (that’s 3/4 of a pound).  Order a reasonable serving.  I go with the Goldilocks diet when I splurge. I get a medium; not too small, not too big.

My next suggestion is to avoid those self-serve ice cream places!  Whoever dreamed up this idea is probably swimming in cash right now!  The first time I did this, it felt like a buffet.   And you know how much more you eat at buffets, right?  First, I grabbed a cup (have you noticed they only have large cups?).  I served myself a splash of chocolate, twisted in a bit of peanut butter, sprinkled on a few Reese’s pieces, a spoonful of crushed Oreos.  By the time I was done, the scale revealed that I had whipped up a 3/4 pound monster! As my mother used to say, “That’s how they getcha!”  And she’d be right!

While I’m weighing in on this topic, as with any addiction, the first step is to acknowledge you have a problem.  If you can’t resist ice cream, don’t keep it in the house.  OR, if you do keep it in the house (“for the kids” – I’ve heard that one before), buy pre-portioned servings, and stick to one serving.  And no, I don’t mean those pint-size containers of Ben & Jerry’s that they sell at convenience stores.  A serving of ice cream is only 1/2 cup.  One pint equals 2 cups (4 servings).  Sorry.  Try Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches or something that is truly one portion – very satisfying!

I feel that I have worked through my issues with ice cream over the years, and I only eat it on occasion now.  It’s not because I don’t love it, but I just don’t find it as tempting anymore.  I suppose once you’ve cleaned up during the night shift at Friendly’s and had your pantyhose stuck to your knees with hardened, dried up, sticky melted ice cream and fudge, it loses its luster.  But I do hope you enjoy yours!

Happy Summer!  Let me know how the cone idea works!

Photo courtesy of “The Mindful Dose”

How Tracy Lost 40 Pounds Without “Going On a Diet”

 

Tracy Ippolito of Stratford, CT

Before and After Her 40 Pound Weight Loss!

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Tracy Ippolito of Stratford, Connecticut, is what I would call a poster girl for healthy weight loss!

Prompted by her son’s engagement last September, Tracy was inspired to lose weight for the wedding.  She had been on plenty of “diets” before, but decided to do it her own way this time; the healthy way!  Taking advantage of her initial enthusiasm, she started with what would be a bold move for anyone:  no alcohol.  Encouraged by her results after a month, she added on another healthy habit; she gave up beef and pork, and started eating chicken breast and white fish instead.  She likes to flavor up her dishes by playing around with hot spices.  Next, she started adding lots of grilled veggies and salad to her meals.

She also drinks Bragg’s organic cider vinegar – 2 tablespoons with every meal.  (This was new to me, so I’m including information about it here:  Health Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar )

“I can’t imagine going back to the way I used to eat,” Tracy says.  As you can see from the photos above, she looked absolutely fabulous for her son’s wedding in May!  Better yet, she feels fabulous, too.

What did Tracy do right?  She didn’t go on an unsustainable crash diet.  She mastered one simple habit at a time.  After a month of success, she layered on one more healthy habit.  Then another.  And another.  Gradually and sustainably, she built a portfolio of healthy habits into her life.  And now, 7 months and 40 pounds lighter, she wants to continue eating this way!

Looking good and feeling good!  Congratulations, Tracy!  You go, girl!

Tomato and Watermelon Salad

watermelon_tomato_saladI love to watch Food Network, but often the recipes are so complicated that I can’t pull them off at home.  Or they contain ingredients that I wouldn’t.  But I discovered this fresh salad recipe last summer, and it was a hit!  Now it’s one of my summer favorites!  Enjoy!  (Thank you to Chef Alex Guarnaschelli)

Tomato and Watermelon Salad:

Prep: 15 minutes

2 Tab. balsamic vinegar

1 Tab. fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Seal salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 beefsteak or other tomatoes, sliced

1-2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon

4 strawberries, hulled cut into small pieces

1 cup cubed cold watermelon

 

Whisk the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt & pepper to taste. Spread the tomatoes out in a single layer and sprinkle with salt, pepper, & the sugar. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with half of the dressing. Add the tarragon and strawberries. Toss. Divide the tomato mixture among the plates. Drizzle with more dressing. Top with the watermelon. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

Mission Possible: My Top Choices For “Healthy” Rest Stop Food


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It’s that time of year again, when you pack up the car and hit the road!  Hurray!

You’re off for a long weekend!  You’re picking up the kids from college, or visiting relatives, or finally visiting the beach after the long winter.  In an ideal world, you’ll pre-pack a cooler with fresh salads, veggies, fruit, hummus, nuts, protein bars, and water.  And your kids will be in the back seat, making polite conversation with each other, saying, “Mother, may I please have another carrot?”  We’ll all play the license plate game and sing “99 Bottles Of Beer On the Wall” joyously.

I can dream, can’t I?

Maybe this sounds more familiar to you:  You rush out the front door, cram your whining, fighting kids into the back seat, and figure you’ll just pick up something to eat at the rest stop when you get gas (gas for both the car and you, that is!).  Your choices will range from bad to worse, and of course, you’ll just want to get back into the car and get on the road again as quickly as possible.

But after all that healthy eating you’ve done during the week, you really hate to blow it on lousy rest-stop food.  All that effort would go down the drain.  Plus, you won’t have time to exercise today, since you’re in the car for the long haul.

So let’s head down I-95 together, stop at a typical rest stop, and decide what  the healthiest choices are on their menus.   Keep in mind that I use the term “healthy” loosely.  The food isn’t going to be organic or GMO-free.  We’re lucky if the food is even fresh.  In fact, even referring to it as “food” is generous.  But let’s do the best we can to minimize the damage, shall we?

As I step out of the car, my radar will be up to find the best nutritional bargain possible.  I am looking to maximize protein while limiting calories, sugars and starches.

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At any location, the beverages will be either tea, coffee or sparkling water – no crappucinos or liquid candy (aka soda).  Usually, the choices for food are gas stations, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, or Starbucks.  (If you see a sign for a nearby Panera’s or Chipotle, go there instead – it’s worth the extra miles.)

Okay, here we go:

Option #1:  Gas Station or Convenience Store

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First, see if there’s any fresh food in a refrigerator.  If there is, grab a hard-boiled egg, an apple or banana, or a pre-made turkey sandwich if it isn’t too soggy (check the date). Other good choices are cheese sticks, cottage cheese, or yogurt.  If there’s no refrigerator, find a single-serving bag of nuts (not trail mix), or a protein bar (not an “energy” or “power” bar – those are code words for sugar.)  If you like turkey or beef jerky, go for it.   Grab a bottle of water and you’re back on the road!

Option #2:  Subway

subway

Subway can be confusingly upfront about the nutrition facts; there’s pressure to order fast, and I have to get my glasses on to read the fine print.  I’ll save you the time here!  If they’re still serving breakfast, have the egg white sandwich on flatbread.   They also sell a number of salads: either top it with guacamole or the honey mustard dressing.   Sandwiches:  the 6″ roasted chicken, roast beef, or Subway club, served on 9-grain wheat bread, and pile on as many veggies as you can.  If you’d like a spread, opt for guacamole rather than the suspicious-looking dressing. You can check out their menu here:  Subway Fresh Fit Menu

Option #3:  Dunkin’ Donuts

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Danger, Danger, Danger!!!!  Know what you’re doing before you walk in here.  If you know you can’t resist the donuts, go to another spot.  If you dare to stay,  choose the bacon, egg and cheese on an English muffin or the egg white veggie sandwich on flatbread.  I don’t see anything else worth ordering that won’t send you into a sugar-induced coma behind the wheel. To see what they call the “DD Smart Menu,” click here:   DD Smart Menu

Option #4: McDonald’s

MCDONALDS

I always laugh when I see people staring at the McDonald’s menu, because – hasn’t it been the same for the past 25 years?  Actually, no!  McDonald’s is attempting to make their food healthier.  Once again, this is not ideal food, but we’re trying to make the best of the given situation.  If they’re still serving breakfast, go for the Egg McMuffin or the Egg White McMuffin.  Their Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (not Crispy Chicken) is also a good option.  If you want to know more, check out McDonald’s Nutrition Facts here:  McDonald’s Nutrition Facts

Option #5:  Starbuck’s

Starbucks

Step one:  AVERT YOUR EYES!  They put all the tempting treats at eye level with you as you wait in line.  It’s similar to the way grocery stores put candy at the register so you or your kids will fall for the easy grab food.  Stick it to the man and look away. Stay away from the crappucino with two shots of s**t.   You’ll be okay with either the low-fat turkey bacon sandwich or the spinach feta breakfast wrap.   Yes, it’s all pre-fab food, but you’ll know what you’re getting if you look here first:  Starbuck’s 35 Under 350

Sbarro’s – Don’t bother.  I checked the menu.  The salads are so woefully small, you’ll be hungry before you get to the next exit.  Keep going.  You won’t get out of there for less than 600 calories.

Pinkberry – Do not stop here.  Yes, yogurt is good for you, and maybe the recipe starts with yogurt, but by the time it gets here, it’s not yogurt anymore.

Cinnabon – If you go here, you know exactly what you’re about to do.  Don’t play dumb.

That’s my take on rest stop food.  Look for protein, and limit the starch, sugar, and processing as much as possible.

What do you think?  Did I miss any healthy options that you see at rest stops?

Can We Stop With the Minutia Already? Five Big Bang Changes

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Have you noticed that everything’s a health hack nowadays?

For example, leeks are good for detoxing your liver. Throw chia, hemp and flax seeds in your smoothie for heart health.  Recently, I overheard someone say, “I drink my water ice cold because it burns more calories than room temperature water.”  That’s the last straw!  C’mon!   Really?  I’m not saying these things aren’t true, but maybe we’re getting carried away here.  After all, my liver would be helped more if I didn’t drink as much alcohol; my heart would be healthier if I got more cardio; and I’d eat fewer calories if I cut back on that daily crappucino.  Just sayin’.

It reminds me of a Weight Watchers meeting a long time ago when the topic turned to salad dressings; which flavor was the best tasting for the fewest calories, or which brand the least fattening (back when low-fat salad dressing was considered a good thing).  As sometimes happens at meetings, the topic digressed – to the point where the group began sharing tips on measuring salad dressings.

 Finally, the leader got everyone’s attention and said, “Look, People.  I doubt any of us are here in this room because we’re putting too much dressing on our salads.”

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The room became silent.  She was absolutely right.  It’s possible that there was one individual with five pounds to lose who would benefit from this discussion, but it was far more likely that we should focus on the big things:  like our mid-afternoon peanut butter binges (me), our nightly bowls of ice cream, or those donuts on the way home in the car.

This is how our attention gets de-railed sometimes.

We focus on the minutia, rather than taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture. The little things matter, but if you want to make a change, it might as well have a larger impact.  If I had to pick my top five, here they are:

drinkingwine

1.  Drink less alcohol.  I’m not even going to suggest drinking NO alcohol because then no one would subscribe to my blog anymore, and all my friends would call me a hypocrite!  But let’s be honest with ourselves; we’re not drinking wine for its anti-oxidants.  My new rule is to only drink when I’m out; no drinking at home.  It’s doable, and it’s in the right direction.

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2.  Eat foods that have 5 ingredients or less.  Better yet, don’t eat any food that needs a label!  With the exception of eggs, oil and nuts, if it has a label, avoid it entirely.

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3.  Get your sleep. Research has proven that 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal for health.  If you have a hard time sleeping, try to figure out the root cause, rather than pop over-the-counter sleeping pills.  It could be pointing to a larger problem.  Talk honestly with your doctor about it.  You might need some yoga!

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4.  Get rid of everyday sugar. Sugar sneaks into everything we eat and drink nowadays.  Even those supposedly healthy Naked drinks have a surprising amount of sugar!  Then go ahead an enjoy a splurge, but only once a week.  I love a dark, rich, chocolate dessert.  I never waste my dessert on an Oreo or some store-bought goodie.  I save it for the real thing, and enjoy every bit of it.

drinkingwater

5.  Drink water. Water is SO good for you; here’s a link to why:  http://bit.ly/1cbimUl   Ideally, drink half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.  (If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water per day.)  Have even more if you exercise a lot.  In other words, carry a big water bottle with you every day. I doubt that it matters if it’s hot or cold; just drink it!  😉

 

Is Your Exercise Stressing You Out?

insanity

 Maybe there’s a reason it’s called “Insanity!”

One of my favorite things is taking a group cardio class, and catching everyone in the mirror in perfect synch with the music.  I love that!  I get a rush when there’s a great bass line thumping away, pumping everyone up.  I still get a rush out of high-intensity cardio like kickboxing.   I love a good cardio workout.  I’m one of those chicks who whoops and hollers when it all gets flowing.

However, rather than relieving stress levels, as most people think, those types of high-intensity workouts might be increasing your stress levels.

According to Holistic Health Practitioner Paul Chek, the body perceives high-intensity aerobic exercise as a stressor.  To a certain extent, that’s a very good thing.  That’s how you get stronger.  But if that’s the only kind of exercise you get, then you’re actually putting your body into a chronic state of stress, activating the sympathetic nervous system, or the fight-or-flight response.  That, in turn, increases the body’s cravings for starchy carbohydrates, sugar in particular!  Furthermore, that exercise could be slowing down your metabolism because of all the increased stress.   (It’s a cruel world, isn’t it?)

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What can you do?

Chek says that we need to balance our work OUTs with work INs! 

Working IN would be something like deep breathing, massage, yoga, Pilates, or his favorite, Tai Chi.   Those types of exercise help the body slow down, relax, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.  That speeds up metabolism.  (For example, did you ever hear your stomach growl when you’re getting a massage, but you know you just ate?  That’s why.)  You’re finally calm enough for your body to start digesting normally again.

So be sure to mix up your exercise.  If you like to spin until the wheels burn off the bike, try out yoga and see what happens.  If you’re the type of person who says,”Yoga would drive me CRAZY,” then you’d benefit the most.  Really.

So try out a work IN this week, and let me know what happens!  You might like it!  Mikey did!

Is Your Body a Bank Account, Or a Chemistry Lab?

counting calories

 

Like so many people, I’ve had a complicated relationship with food.

As a teenager in the 70’s, I remember my well-respected pediatrician writing down the simple formula for weight loss on a little sheet  of paper: “One gram of carbohydrates
has 4 calories, one gram of protein has 4 calories, and one gram of fat has 9 calories.  So eliminate fat, and you’ll lose weight.”  Wow!  That sounded so easy! And I was good at
math. So I tried it.
“Thus began the calorie-counting, fat-free, processed food era of my life.”
In my mind, I associated dieting with self-deprivation, so I began looking for caloric
“bargains.” It was just like the doctor said; if the food said “fat-free,” it was way
lower in calories.  If it was lower in calories, that meant I could eat more of it and
avoid being hungry!  If it said “sugar-free” AND “fat-free,” I could eat even more!
Over time, I was no longer eating to satisfy hunger or to nourish my body.  It was all about scouring the labels and bargain-hunting (calorie-wise) for the lowest-calorie food.  I had completely lost touch with whether or not I was hungry.
Weren’t we all playing the same game?
This rather disjointed view of food continued into adulthood.  All three times I was pregnant, I gained a whopping 50 pounds. After all, I was eating for two, so I felt entitled to more food.  It was good for the baby, wasn’t it?  (I must have forgotten that one of us only weighed a few ounces!)  In order to lose the weight after each pregnancy, I would start counting things again – sometimes food exchanges
(remember those?), sometimes points, and sometimes calories.  But as soon as
I stopped counting, measuring, or else inevitably started cheating the system,
the weight would start to sneak back on.  Looking back, I see that I was treating my body like a bank account, counting debits in (food) and credits out (exercise).
For the record, counting calories isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that method backfired on me, and perhaps it backfired on others as well. Yes, counting calories can be a very successful method for weight loss.  Research does show that when people start writing down their food, they begin to eat less simply because the act of writing makes them more aware of what they’re eating.  I get it.  And it’s absolutely true.
But as I learned more about nutrition, I knew I was eating way too many chemicals and processed foods.  The media started to report that fat was GOOD for you, and that it was necessary to eat it.  But I still wouldn’t “splurge” for it, calorie-wise.  Everything was
sugar-free, fat-free and processed. Deep down, I knew that wasn’t a healthy way to eat.
I wasn’t paying enough attention to the quality of the food I was eating.
I don’t know how or when it finally dawned on me what my mistake was;
IT’S NOT ABOUT MY WEIGHT, AND IT NEVER WAS.
In the end, it’s about HEALTH.
THE HUMAN BODY IS MORE LIKE A CHEMISTRY LAB THAN A BANK ACCOUNT.
 It’s all about the QUALITY of the food and how it interacts with the body.
That’s when I made a shift in my eating habits.
The shift is that now I look for nutrition bargains instead of caloric bargains! I look for the food that has the most nutrients per serving instead of the least calories.  Wow!  What a concept!
One by one, I changed each meal around:  coffee and a veggie omelet for breakfast, using coconut oil in the pan; a salad with chicken or fish, some nuts and FULL-FAT dressing (GASP)!  Snack is my splurge – usually a high-protein Quest bar.  Dinner has 2 hot veggies and some lean protein again.  And wine sometimes.  And I thoroughly enjoy a gooey chocolate dessert once a week.
I feel so much better now.  No more counting, no sweet cravings, no energy dips, and no frustration over the scale anymore.  It takes care of itself now because I’m eating much more nutrient-dense food.  My food and I now have a healthier relationship.
Does calorie-counting work well for you?  Or did you have a similar experience to mine?