What’s More Important – Diet or Exercise?

I’m going with diet.

Yes, they’re both important. Blah blah blah. But I firmly believe that when it comes to weight loss, physical activity is secondary to food intake.

While it’s true that some people don’t move enough, it seems to me that many more people are reasonably active, and still experiencing issues with their weight.  Perhaps I am biased because this was my personal experience – always overweight, and yet always quite active. But in any event, I’m not the only person who feels this way.

The typical Western diet is calorie dense.

In general, food is primary because while we are designed to want to eat until we’re full, we are also designed to eat foods that had a much lower caloric density than the foods we typically encounter today. Admittedly, we were also designed to work a bit harder for those foods (a factor in favor of exercise, I suppose).

Still, typical Western foods are so calorific that even a large amount of exercise won’t offset poor eating habits. And to make things worse, the caloric density of these foods  is probably magnified by our general over-reliance on carbohydrates – the consumption of which tends to affect our metabolic state in favor of storage.

For some, exercise can increase appetite.

My advice to anyone, simply based on my own experience, would be to avoid starting caloric restriction and a workout regimen at the same time.

Of course, you have to know yourself. But in my experience, exercise increases my appetite noticeably. In fact, exercise has been shown to both increase or decrease your appetite depending on a number of factors.

In life, we expect clean and predictable answers. People will say “Oh you can never lose weight without exercising.” But that’s simply untrue, because the truth is much so much more complex than what some person put in a single news headline.

You can look at what scientific studies tell you, or you can sit down and mindfully examine your own life experience, incorporating what you pick up from the news as well. Our bodies and brains are unique, and in the end, what works for you depends on more factors than a scientific study can possible consider. You need to know yourself.

Consider – how did you get where you are now?

If you have a lot of weight to lose, maybe it’s time to consider this – what caused you to put on the weight in the first place? And be honest with yourself.

If you overeat often, you should probably deal with your eating habits before dealing with your physical activity. If you find it’s difficult to get full, then you want to begin opting for more veggies with every meal. Simply adding veggies may cause you to eat less of other more calorie dense foods. This was the case for me. Of course – I still exercise regularly for the health benefits.

On the other hand, if you’ve put on a pound or two each year slowly throughout the years with age – maybe you’ll do fine just adding enough activity to compensate for your slowing metabolism. Try it out, and see how it works for you.

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14 Days of Probiotic Foods

We are beginning to understand a thing or two about what a healthy gut environment looks like. But that’s about it – a thing or two. So how can you use this limited information to improve your life?

We know of a few strains of bacteria that are probably “good” in general. And we don’t even know for a fact that they are “good” in and of themselves. It could simply be that the presence of these strains is a sign of a healthy gut, which is healthy for other (unrelated) reasons.

But we know at least this. For patients afflicted with C. Diff, fecal transplants save lives. And fecal transplants have shown some very interesting results in studies on humans and rats. So a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut is essential. We just don’t know exactly what a healthy gut looks like.

What does your gut look like? 

We also don’t know what your gut looks like. Partly because we don’t care, but mostly because you haven’t shit in a cup and sent it to us. And even if you did send us a cup full of feces, we wouldn’t look at it. We’d probably just call the police.

Even if we did know what your gut bugs looked like – what would we do with that information? Sure, we could see if you had an overgrowth of something terrible. Or a deficiency of good stuff. But is there an ideal to aspire to? Is it the same for everyone? Is it even the same at every stage of life? We simply don’t know.

So we’re working with limited information. Which is why incorporating probiotic foods is, in general, your best bet for a healthy gut.

Probiotic Supplements versus Fermented Foods

When you buy a probiotic supplement, you could be getting one strain of bacteria, or five strains or whatever. Sure, these strains have been studied – but the question is, do we even know enough about gut bugs to know what to look for? How likely is it that these supplements capture the bigger picture of what we want in the gut?

The other issue with supplements is that they only contain bacteria. And there is more to your microbiome than that. Even if you have the right gut bugs, they might thrive better when delivered along their perfect fuel.

Fermented foods, unlike supplements, are whole. Fermentation goes back a long way in human history. We have evolved with these foods, and they have evolved with us.

When we look at the diversity of fermented foods that we can eat, we realize that if we begin to regularly incorporate fermented foods into our diet, we can increase the chances that we are putting a variety of healthy bugs into our gut.

Beware of Yogurt

Yogurt is great. But many yogurts that purport to contain “healthy” bacteria also contain a ton of added sugar. It is very possible that too much sugar in the diet fuels an overgrowth of “unhealthy” bacteria. Plus, added sugar is generally a bad idea – especially for breakfast. There are better ways to shape up your gut.

Fermented Foods

Yogurt can be good, just pick something without added sugar. And given the overuse of antibiotics in modern society, you probably won’t get everything your gut needs from yogurt alone.

So try to include a variety of other probiotic foods and beverages into your diet. Including:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Pickled anything
  • Miso Soup
  • Tempeh
  • fresh sourdough breads (but watch out, for the same reason as yogurt)
  • Kombucha

14 Days of Probiotic Foods

I challenge you to incorporate at least one of the foods from the above list into your diet every day for the next 14 days. And try mixing it up if you can.

If you don’t regularly eat any of the foods on this list, it’s likely that increasing your intake will put you in the direction of a better, stronger, and more diverse gut microbiome. Especially if you have a long history with antibiotics, as most of us do.

After the 14 days is up, continue to regularly incorporate these foods into your diet. I am confident that as time marches on, we’ll learn so much more about the nature of our insides that this post will look silly. But until then, it’s the least we can do.

Happy Cultivating 🙂

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To Lose 30 Pounds, Aim for Eight.

 

Successful diet
“Yes! I ate a whole slice of pizza and only gained seven pounds”

So you want to lose 30 pounds, am I right? Or 40 or 50?

Well you can do that. And probably in time for Spring, too. Definitely in time for Summer. Wouldn’t that be the most incredible thing? Just stop for a moment and imagine how sassy you’ll feel. Just imagine how quickly you’ll abandon your loser husband and kids.

Losing enough weight to abandon your entire family is well within your reach. In fact, I wish I could just burst through this computer screen right now and squeeze your face until you feel within your soul just how possible this is for you.

All you need to do is forget your ultimate goal. Wipe it completely from your mind. Instead, just “aim for eight.”

It’s not magic, it’s logic.

Losing 30 pounds is hard. Losing 40 pounds is the absolute worst.  You just don’t need to embark on that kind of journey, because you’re probably not a murderer and therefore deserve some modicum of happiness in your life.

Losing 50 pounds is basically impossible. It’s so difficult that I’d rather get eaten by a shark. And yet I have lost 50 pounds, and more.

Great White Shark  breaching
I would rather be inside this thing

But losing 8 pounds?  That’s cake.  Most people can do it in less than a month just by making small changes.

Here is the idea.

This is important. You can’t “aim for eight” in order to lose 30. You need to forget the 30 completely. Forget it at a cellular level. It is NOT your goal. Not now, not ever. Your goal is eight.  It is always eight.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Because it’s not enough to simply forget your larger goal. You must actively banish it completely from your mind. It’s just not your goal, because your goal is to lose just eight pounds. Eight Eight Eight Eight Eight.  Lose 8 pounds and then reevaluate.  Chant it with me now “Eight Eight! Eight Eight! Eight and reevaluate!”

So – What is your sole mission on this earth?

To lose 8 pounds. And not starting tomorrow, not starting on Monday, starting right now. If you want to lose weight, then you start RIGHT NOW – the second you read this paragraph.

Your goal is now to lose 8 pounds. As quickly as you can, but in a healthy way.

What’s Next?

Once you lose eight pounds you have two rules:
1. You are PROHIBITED from losing more for a minimum of 1 or 2 weeks; and
2. You are PROHIBITED from gaining any weight back during this time. You hear me?

Not an an ounce. You are spending a minimum of one or two weeks maintaining your new sexy self.  But it’s even better if you spend more time maintaining. You can maintain your 8 pound loss for a month or more if you want.

Why? Because you reached your goal. And now you can let your body and mind rest as for as long as you need.

A Note on Natural Fluctuations During the Maintenance Period 

And now, excuse me as I contradict myself. Of course, natural fluctuations in weight happen – and for some women more than others.

And if you go from a strict eating regimen to a less strict regimen, you’ll probably gain some weight from water and glycogen.

Be reasonable, and be kind to yourself. But be mindful. You’ll know if you’re gaining ‘actual’ weight. Just try not to do it, but also not to lose. Because your body thinks it’s starving to death, and it wants a little break.

Re-evaluate 

Maintenance period over.

Congrats. You lost eight pounds, and you’ve maintained it. Or maybe you gained a pound or two back.

No big deal. It’s been one or two weeks, but maybe you want to maintain for longer.

Because what’s your new goal? You guessed it. Aim for 8. You can do it the same way you did the first 8, or maybe try something completely new. Who cares? Just do it.

Wait, hold on. I’m confused. How much weight am I trying to lose? 

Imagine a friend is curious about your diet. She asks you what your goal is. Do you say “Oh, well I just lost 8 pounds, and now I’d like to lose 20 more? ”

Hell no!

You say “Yep – I’m just trying to lose 8 pounds” And every time you lose 8, you win. Re-set. Game over.

What’s going to happen when you lose 8 pounds?

The first eight: You’re going to feel great. You’re going to feel as bright as the sun. You might go down one size. You’ll realize, “hey – it’s not so hard.” I could do this 3 more times.

The second eight: This is when you begin to feel like a new person. You’ve probably gone down one or two dress sizes.

Do this three times, and you’re down by 24 pounds. You won’t even realize how it happened so quickly.

Meanwhile, you’ll be establishing great habits. You won’t be stressing yourself. You won’t be setting insane expectations, and you won’t be simultaneously starving and working out at the gym. Instead, you’ll be giving your body what it wants and needs, because you’re only trying to lose a few pounds at most.

So aim for 8. I don’t care if you’re 20 pounds overweight, or 100 pounds overweight. Write it down today in lipstick on your bathroom mirror.

And when you reach that goal, you can re-evaluate.

Start today! Don’t wait until Monday! You can do it!!!

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How to be a Hippie and also a Skeptic

Funny hippie man holding a love heart and pointing up.

Is Detoxifying Real? 

I am a skeptic. So I understand why words like “toxin” and “liver” sound made-up and stupid.

But I’m also a hippie. So at least once a week, you can find me in a meditative trance, removing “toxins” from my “liver” by way of complete abstention from food. That’s right, I fast weekly. Fuck. You.

I Don’t Know What Toxins Are

What the hell are toxins? Where do they live?

I don’t like magical terminology because I love science. And in the name of science, I truly abhor catch-all words (like toxins). But that doesn’t mean that toxins aren’t real. In fact, I’m beginning to strongly suspect that livers might be real too.

Toxins may include, but are not limited to –> pesticides, traces of antibiotics, chlorine (from your drinking water), MSG, BPA, preservatives, pollutants from various plastics and emissions. Dear god, even glucose is toxic to your blood (why do you think your body is so good at clearing it?).

Some of these toxins live in your fat. When you lose weight, they are released into your blood. These are called “fat soluble.” Yikes.

Some toxins are stored in other places, like your left eye, or your right eye. Maybe this explains why you can’t look at your mother straight.

Some of the above listed compounds might not even be toxic. Who knows? But some probably are. And some might not be toxic to you, per se. They simply destroy your microbiome and cause your ass to leak blood at the most inconvenient times (a phenomenon we fitness bloggers refer to as “anal menstruation.”)

It drives me crazy when people dismiss detoxifying as pseudo-science.

I apologize, on behalf of the hippies, for failing to effectively articulate their filthy-hippie points of view.  Maybe they’re too busy chanting at a crystal.

But despite never showering, the hippies might be onto something. And the hippie within me feels it intuitively.

Your so-called “liver”

Your body detoxifies constantly. Through sweat, through breath – even through your incontinent bladder. Your body is a homeostasis MACHINE. And it cannot LIVE without constantly detoxifying. How can you not respect its amazing homeostatic powers?

This alleged “liver” of yours supposedly plays a role. Sure, whatever. Maybe Unicorns play a role too.

Imaginary or not, I don’t think that your so called “liver” is helped by a bed of rose petals, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, or whatever stupid thing you probably believe in. Namely, because all of those things are moronic.

…But perhaps, just perhaps, we should at least consider the possibility that this mythical organ might be helped by a short break from the never ending onslaught of FOOD FOOD FOOD and chemicals that you’ve stuffed down your gullet every 3-5 hours (as recommended by ‘professionals’) for the past 38 years of your  life.

Fasting and/or Just Not Taking in Toxins

Fasting is both ancient and new. Short fasts have shown health promise in so many ways. When there are problems with blood work, fasts often improve those problems.

I’m not going to cite specific studies here, because it’s so much easier to just make my claims without any support at all. But if you’d like to learn more – here are some great books that I love: “The Fast Diet” by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer and “Grain Brain” by Dr. Perlmutter. Dr. Joel Fuhrman also has great book on this topic, but it’s slightly dated.

If you don’t want to fast, you can detoxify in other ways. And in fact – fasting alone will never be enough.

You can simply reduce the amount of toxins you take in. And that’s real. Here is a story about a family who went fully organic for just two weeks.  The amount of pesticides in their blood plummeted. We still don’t know what effects, if any, this has on health. But I suspect that chemicals often have consequences. Why wouldn’t they?

Detoxifying Could Simply Mean Not Eating Weird Chemicals 

You don’t have to be a hippie to simply not eat weird chemicals.

Just try not to eat them, or at least to eat less of them. Chemicals go to the places where you put them. Why wouldn’t they? And even if your body is fantastic at getting rid of them, you don’t have to make it work so hard.

And while it is probably true that your liver is nothing but a myth perpetuated by the media, that doesn’t make it infallible. Everything degrades over time, even things that were invented in the cold sterile boardroom of some heartless corporation trying to sell you liver pills.

For more information on how you can avoid weird chemicals in your produce, check out EWG’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists. These lists tell you which fruits and veggies are most likely (and least likely) to be contaminated with pesticides.

It’s nice to create a nice environment for the things you love, and it’s nice not to take chances with your hot body.  Treat your so-called liver with respect, and your so-called liver just might thank you by not killing you.

Peace. Love. Detox.

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Wine about Calories

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wine with a view

One glass of wine has about 120 calories.
Seven glasses a week has 840.

Over the course of a year, one glass per day adds up to 43,800 calories a year. From wine! Yay.

From a strict calories in-calories out perspective, that’s equivalent to about 12.5 pounds of fat per year, and that doesn’t even begin to include rum.

I weigh in the vicinity of 135 pounds (175 on a bad hair day). If I had started out at a lower weight, and if my wine had converted to fat with perfect efficiency over the past year, I’d be a little over 9% wine (7% on a bad hair day).

Of course I didn’t gain weight in the past year. And I don’t believe in a strict calories in-calories out approach. So what’s the relevance of this?

I don’t know – it’s just fun. Turns out I drink a lot of wine.

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Pretty Purple Smoothie à la Laura

 

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“drink me”

I love filling my various stomach chambers with freshly made smoothies. This delightful concoction is called the “Pretty Purple Smoothie à la Laura” because it’s pretty, it’s purple, and it was submitted to us by our friend Laura. Thanks betch.

Here’s the recipe:

  1. One cup liquid (almond milk, soy milk, water)
  2. One cup frozen blueberries
  3. 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  4. 1 cup kale
  5. Vanilla low fat greek yogurt
  6. A couple drops vanilla extract

Laura recommends freezing the berries yourself, but I suspect that Laura is a filthy liar who has never frozen a berry in her life.

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…more lies

I’ve never tried vanilla extract in my smoothies, but I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be amazing.

Thank you Laura!!

Enjoy 😀

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Chicken Soup for the Soul

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Last week I was on a chicken soup recipe mission because my Husband was sick and needed some good “Jewish Penicillin”. But there was just one little issue- neither of us like boiled chicken. It would be such a waste to get chicken for the purpose of flavor and then chucking it. I needed to find a way to not waste food.

I thought to myself, “why not use rotisserie chicken?” It totally worked and was so flavorful and I’ve made this concoction again for this week. This recipe was adapted  from here.

This recipe yields approx 6 servings so adjust accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • bag of carrots
  • bag of celery
  • 1.5 onions
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • whole rotisserie
  •  2 tbls oil or butter
  • parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried oregano or Italian season (whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • *noodles/rice optional*

Directions:

  • Bring broth and water to a simmer
  • While the broth and water are warming up, chop up a handful of carrots, half an onion and one celery stalk- throw it into the pot
  • Season with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Cover the pot partially. In the meantime, separate the skin and bones in one container and the meat in another
  • Place the skin, bones, and bay leaf in the pot, partially cover and simmer for another hour to release max amount of flavor
  • Chop up the rest of the chicken, carrots, onion, and celery. Put to the side
  • After the hour, grab a large bowl and a colander. Place colander over the bowl and pour mixture in. This will separate the broth from the skin and bone mixture
  • Take your chopped up veggies and oil and saute in the pot until soft
  • Pour broth back into the pot and place chopped chicken and parsley in and simmer for another 10-20 minutes
  • *Add noodles or rice when you are ready to serve

So much flavor and really easy to make. I hope you guys enjoy!

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On Spanx, Dillards, and the Fat Acceptance Movement

People are talking these days. About:
1. Body Pride;
2. Sizeism (discrimination based on size); and
2. The fat acceptance movement

Just the other day, Arie announced it’s new campaign featuring size 12 model Barbie Ferreira. And perhaps you’ve come across one mother’s viral post floating on the internet:

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I believe strongly in body pride and self-confidence, no matter what. Everyone should love themselves. But I DO take issue with certain aspects of the fat acceptance movement.

The Dillards Incident

I was overweight as a child. I specifically recall an incident when I was about 10 years old. I went to children’s boutique named Denny’s in central New Jersey, to buy a Spice Girls T-shirt. The clerk came up to me and told me there was nothing in the store for me. I wish I could remember if we ended up buying the shirt.

I won’t forget that moment for as long as I live. Even though I was overweight, I always felt like a cool girl, and I didn’t think anyone at school made fun of me. But in that moment, it was like a grown woman was making fun of me. I wanted to shrivel up and die. I always wondered why the clerk felt the need to come up to me and say anything at all. Was she afraid I’d stretch out and rip all of the clothes?

Girls – young girls – are particularly susceptible to the influence of those around us, including  older women. Human beings are simply designed that way. There are so many influences telling us we are not good enough the way we are – whether its because of body weight, body hair, body features, or just whatever. Tina Fey wrote about it hilariously in Bossypants. These constant little signs of rejection are tragic.

But when it comes to the Dillard’s clerk (or in my case, the Denny’s clerk),  I’m going to go ahead and assume there was no ill-will intended. That’s because I feel comfortable assuming that the clerk at Dillard’s was not the brightest bulb, just as the clerk at Denny’s was not the sharpest pencil. These women are more likely socially inept than anything else. They don’t deserve our contempt, they deserve our empathy.

What’s more is this – the girl pictured above is adorable, and she is in fine shape. She has nothing to be embarrassed of, and nothing to hide. She wasn’t put on this earth to be an artificial construct, she is here to be herself. And if that means wearing Spanx, or if it means not wearing Spanx – then that’s her prerogative.

I personally choose the Spanx for myself, and maybe that’s because I’m a coward.

To her and her mother, I say “right on!”

The Fat Acceptance Movement

All of this is separate and apart from the fat acceptance movement, which I actually do take issue with.

But first, let me clarify two points.

  1. I’m a Libertarian. In every sense.  What I’m about to say here is only my opinion. I don’t claim to be right in any objective sense. It’s just what feels right for me – and I share my view because maybe it will resonate with you. So if you think the fat acceptance movement is the greatest thing to ever happen on earth, then great. But I don’t. I’d still love to break bread with you sometime. Preferably cheesy bread.
  2. What qualifies as fat?  When I say “fat” in reference to the body acceptance movement, I am not referring to people who are pleasantly plump, delightfully chubby, or even moderately obese. I’m talking about people who are well beyond anything that could possibly be considered a good weight.  And I’m not talking here about obesity in terms of BMI. I’m talking about obesity in terms of “you are fucking undeniably fat.”

The Good Aspects of the Fat Acceptance Movement

Fat acceptance advocates bring awareness to important issues such as weight discrimination in almost every single field. And that’s important.

I know for an absolute fact, as someone who has been at both ends of the spectrum, that fat people are treated differently. Very differently. By employers, professionals, doctors, teachers –  everyone. Even slightly overweight people are treated differently than their thin counterparts.

And this is something we should be mindful of. Both out of respect for others, and also to improve ourselves.

My Problems With the Fat Acceptance Movement 

People are not meant to be fat.

Yes, some of us are meant to put on weight easier than others. Some of us are not meant to be thin.  But with the exception of some very rare illnesses, no one is genetically destined to be very obese.

Obesity is a product of a modern lifestyle based on unnatural foods. These foods are marketed at us constantly from a very young age. We think these foods should make us feel full, but they don’t because they are devoid of nutrition. They are often designed to addict us, physically.  These foods are dangerous, and as far as I’m concerned, marketing them to children is criminal.

Obesity is not inevitable. I love that someone who is obese might love themselves, because I never could.  I also love that someone who is obese might feel nothing but pride and a positive self image. But I believe very strongly that obesity is nothing to celebrate. And having a positive self-image in an obese state does not preclude you from having an equally positive self-image in a healthy state.

That said, you should live your life however you want to live it.  But when Fat Acceptance Advocates begin to denounce doctors for blaming everything on their weight, what they forget is this – fat, itself, is an organ which promotes inflammation and injury. Fat changes your hormonal profile. If you are female, fat is very likely to make your period heavier, more difficult, and more irregular. Because of this, you might experience terrible mood swings, and become anemic. These aren’t rare side effects of fat – this is basically destiny.

Staying overweight also has negative effects on brain function, and increases how quickly we age. Waist circumference is a predictor of so many terrible outcomes.

But I don’t even need studies to know that being lighter feels better. I don’t sweat as much. There is less strain on my heart. I am no longer pre-occupied with food (says the girl with the fitness blog).

Now your health is not my business. And your appearance is not my business. But doctors are supposed to be healers. If anything, they don’t do nearly ENOUGH to promote sound nutritional choices, and to remind patients of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, there are plenty of THIN people who are filled with dangerous visceral fat. These thin people may be at just as much risk of disease and cognitive decline as their overweight counterparts. And for the most part, doctors are failing them too.

This doesn’t mean overweight people shouldn’t be treated with respect. It doesn’t mean doctors shouldn’t take them seriously. But it does mean that it’s the doctor’s job to keep telling them to lose weight. Because whatever problem they are facing – it is exceedingly likely that its complicated by extra weight. And that might be true for even marginally overweight people. The same goes for thin people with dangerous visceral fat, or with poor blood results. Nutrition is medicine, and it is key.

In Denial 

When I read the literature of from fat acceptance circles, sometimes I am just surprised. Take this article from Every Day Feminism, for example, which suggests that being overweight doesn’t necessary mean you have poor nutrition. The author states that making assumptions based on weight is “oppressive” and suggests it is harmful for overweight people, “..to hear assumptions from dietitians and other healthcare practitioners that because of a physical characteristic, their weight, they must be unhealthy and engaging in poor self-care.”

The problem is simply that yes, being very overweight DOES mean you have poor nutrition.  And you might not even know it. Because nutrition is about more than how many calories and what nutrients go into your body. It’s about the health of your blood, your levels of inflammatory cytokines, your insulin and glucose levels, your gut microbiome and health, your arterial plaque, and your prevalent metabolic states. These factors are inextricably intertwined with your body weight and body fat percentage. This is basic. You can’t wish it away. And it’s not your doctor’s or nutritionist’s job to make you feel good about yourself. It’s their job to provide you with factual information.

There doesn’t have to be a disconnect between loving yourself and wanting to be healthy.

In fact, you don’t even have to be  healthy if you don’t want to be. Maybe you love being a giant fatass, and that’s great. Good health is not a mandate, it’s just a good idea.

But I won’t stand quietly by in the face of delusion. I’ll say my piece, especially since I’ve been there before. Every pound extra takes a toll on you health. It simply does. But that’s nobody’s business but your own.

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Emotional eating and peanut butter banana sammies

This topic hits really close to home. I crave food the most when I am sad, stressed, nervous, made, or anxious. Basically it hits when I “just can’t deal”. For many years, emotional eating derailed me from succeeding on whatever diet plan I was on at the moment (we need to discuss the word diet at some point. I really hate that word. It’s a lifestyle change… once I realized the difference between diet and lifestyle change, my world changed).

Cortisol is a stress hormone that triggers cravings for foods that give immediate pleasure like high fat foods, foods that are salty and sweet. My go to foods were always pasta and breads and if I wasn’t home, man oh man, the most comforting food to me was Wendy’s #6- spicy chicken sandwich. Eating that food gave me such a temporary high. It reduced all my stress and made me feel like everything was ok in the world. But then I would get so mad at myself for eating those bad foods. What a vicious cycle from sadness and stress to anger and around and around we’d go.

Emotions are sometimes hard to control, BUT, we can control how we consume foods. I have my moments of weakness but not as bad as before and I definitely don’t beat myself up over it anymore because guilt is just another negative emotion.

Here are ways I’ve been able to help myself and I hope my experiences can help you too.

 Know yourself. Know what sets you off and be prepared.

Example: Work stressors. Keep healthy, satisfying snacks around. I always make sure to have something laying around like nuts (I love Emerald’s 100 cal packs of Cocoa Roast Almonds), apples, bananas, protein bars, or my recent favorite, banana peanut butter sandwiches (see recipe below).

 Find ways to cope.

Examples:

-Take your lunch break and go for a walk. Get the blood flowing, get some fresh air and relax. Enjoy the world around you.

-Keep a journal; sort out your thoughts, word vomit all over those pages!

-Take a breath! Breathing is a powerful tool that can prompt relaxation. Check this link out for some useful breathing techniques: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html

Get a hobby!

– I’ve had an on again off again love affair with Cycling. It’s back on and we are strong as ever and determined to make it work.

-How about art? Coloring? Check out these adult coloring books: http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Coloring-Book-Relieving-Patterns/dp/1941325122

-Watch animal videos on you-tube. I promise, this helps.

Talk to someone

There are a few people in life that can make me feel better- my husband, my parents, and my besties. Thanks guys, I love you!

If you have a moment, let us know what coping techniques you’ve used.

Banana and peanut butter sandwiches to the rescue:

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What you will need:

1 Banana

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Freezer safe Tupperware

Directions:

Cut banana into dime size pieces, you should be able to make 8-10 “sandwiches”

Spread thin layer of PB on a slice and top with another slice of banana

Put your sandwiches inside a freezer safe dish and freeze at least an hour before eating

Enjoy!

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How to get 8 Times More Beta-Carotene from Your Carrots

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cool as a carrot

I love carrots. So obviously I hulked out with rage and excitement when I learned these easy tricks to maximize their nutritional content. This comes from one of my favorite books, “Eating on the Wild Side,” by Jo Robinson.

If you follow these steps, you can increase the nutritional value of your carrots by up to 800%. So do it!

  1. Choose mature carrots over baby carrots.

Baby carrots are not the same as human babies. They come from ugly looking mature carrots, with the outer parts cut off and thrown away. Come to think of it, they are kind of like human babies after all.

But here is why you have a problem. Like many fruits and veggies, the greatest concentration of anti-oxidants and nutrients in carrots can be found in the skin, as well as in the tissues immediately below the skin.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense. Anti-oxidants are needed in the outermost layers of the plant, so that it can best protect itself from pests and disease. And also from the growing influence of America’s far right.

Opt for regular mature carrots, and you will have access to the healthiest parts of the carrot.

2. Eat fresh rather than frozen carrots.

Unlike some other veggies, carrots lose much of their nutritional value when frozen or thawed. Opt for fresh carrots over frozen.

3. Steam or sauté your carrots rather than boiling them.

When you boil your carrot, some of the water soluble nutrients end up in the cooking water. Avoid this by steaming or sautéing your carrots.

You can also avoid some of this nutritional loss by cooking your carrots whole, and cutting them afterward.

4. Eat your carrots with fat.

A little bit of fat will help you absorb the most beta-carotene from your carrot. That’s because beta-carotene is fat soluble.

This makes me happy, because fat tastes like heaven.  Carrot flavored ice cream anyone?

Happy munching 🙂

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