Five Awesome Books for Fitness

If you’re smart like me, you read a lot of books. And if you’re sexy like me, some of those books are about health and nutrition.

Here’s the thing – I want to look good. But what I want more than that is to be fully immortal.

So these aren’t diet books. They’re books about health. And some of them contain new or different thinking which might be controversial. But they’re all interesting.

  1. Eating on the Wild Side” by Jo Robinson. I fucking love this book. So will you please read it? I don’t know. Maybe you’ll find it boring.The premise is that even if you eat fruits and veggies, our modern varieties are not necessarily giving you optimum nutrition, because we’ve bred out some really good stuff. Each chapter covers a category of produce. The author provides the following info:
    1. the history of the crop;
    2. the genetic history;
    3. how to pick the most nutritious variety;
    4. how to prepare it for optimum nutrition;
    5. how to store it for optimum nutrition;
    6. interesting facts that will surprise you

The book is fantastic. Its just brilliant. Even if you’re not so into nutrition, it’s just a super interesting book about plants. I listened to it on audiobook maybe three times. While exercising, of course 😉

2.  “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. Even though it’s not so old, this book is basically a classic. The info is so basic, and the author is just so smart. The premise is to just eat fucking food. It’s great.

Pollan rails against “nutritionism” and tells us why we shouldn’t really trust what we get from nutritional studies. He gives me lots of fuel for my anti- FDA government conspiracy fire. And yet he’s not at all a conspiracy theorist. He’s just a smartie pants.

3. “Good Calories, Bad Calories”  by Gary Taubes. This one is a classic in nutrition circles. Just give it a read.

4. “Grain Brain” by Dr. David Perlmutter.

This is where my list starts to get a bit controversial. Dr. Perlmutter is kind of one of those “hippie” doctors.  You may not agree with him. I tend to agree with a lot of what he says, and I think he’s very careful in his claims.

This book isn’t about weight loss. It’s about how our grain-heavy diet affects our brain. He also tells us how to eat to best preserve our brain function into old age. Hint: it’s not bagels.

I think it’s a great book and an interesting book.

5. “The Fast Diet” by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer

Hate the title. Love the book.

This isn’t a diet book. It’s a primer to Intermittent Fasting, and it takes a very gentle approach at that.

Basically, this book touts the benefits of greatly reducing your caloric intake for two days a week.  So it’s not really about “fasting” per se. But if you don’t know much about fasting, this book is a great start. It’s very approachable. And I love that it gives both a male and female perspective on fasting.

But wait! There’s more!!

If you just so happen to be an ignorant fool who doesn’t want to read a book, you are in luck. The Fast Diet was based on a BBC Documentary, also featuring Dr. Mosley. You can check it out on youtube here. It’s great.

While you’re at it, check out my list of awesome documentaries here.

Happy Reading 😀

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A Way Out: Eating Without Counting

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This plate contains meat, mac and cheese, and starchy veggies prepared in oil. But notice how it’s mostly veggies. And underneath is entirely greens.

I’m about to describe how I eat, in general.

I think that for most people, a diet like mine will allow them to lose weight – even without exercise. And yes, even without counting calories.

All you have to do is listen to your appetite.

This is basically it:

  • This is KEY: I’d guess that 3/4 of my diet is veggies, by volume. I eat as many veggies as I want. Many greens, but I don‘t shy away from starchy vegetables.
  • I dress my salads however I want – sometimes including croutons, seeds etc. I personally only like a small amount of dressing, and usually no dressing at all.
  • I eat a small amount of meat several times a week. Many weeks I don’t eat any meat at all.
  • If I’m not eating a TON of greens for a particular meal, I use small plates. Large plates are ridiculous.
  • I eat lots of soups, usually broth based (rarely creamy)
  • I eat lots of eggs, every day. With a little bit of olive or coconut oil.
  • I’m not big on dairy, but I have it when I want it
  • I try to stay away from refined foods
  • I eat not too many beans, but probably more than most people
  • I eat 1 or 2 squares of chocolate every day
  • Some days, I drink wine
  • Occasionally, I eat bad stuff

The foods I eat most often are:
greens, eggs, sweet potatoes, avocados, tomatoes and onions

On Meal Frequency (and this is important!!):
 I eat as often as I want, but I NEVER eat simply because it’s meal time. Some days I eat very often, and some days not at all. I eat completely according to my appetite.

On Physical Activity:
I stay active, but only because I enjoy it. I don‘t do harsh exercises. I walk often, hike often, and sometimes jog.

Three caveats to all of the above

1. Losing weight is different than maintaining weight. What I’ve described, to me, is a healthy diet – based on what we know now. If you eat like this, and according to your own appetite, then your weight should take care of itself, barring some other major issues.

If you go from eating processed foods to eating like this – I imagine you’ll lose weight without counting calories. But if you always eat like this, and you haven’t been losing weight, then of course you won’t. For you, adding exercise or cutting out some calories might work.

2. Getting from A to B is a trip. If you rely on processed foods and carbs for the majority of your needs, it could be very difficult to suddenly transition to a diet like this. You don‘t want to torture yourself, and yes – it may take time. I suggest adding vegetables to your diet first, rather than taking anything away. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy and prefer eating this way. It just took some getting used to.

3. This diet makes me feel full and satisfied. If this doesn’t make you feel full and satisfied, it’s not going to work for you.  This is why I suggest adding rather than subtracting. Fill up on veggies that you love, and begin to gingerly try ones you don‘t care for. You might find that you get to an ideal weight without even trying.

Sometimes, Counting Calories is Good.

In some situations, counting calories might make sense. For more on that, check out my post On Counting Calories.

Happy not-counting 😀

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Seven Reasons Why You Should Hike for Fitness

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I love hiking more than anything else in the whole world. I just want to be one with nature. And then I want to come home to all of my modern amenities and never look at nature again.

Don’t Do it to Lose Weight.

When it comes to weight loss, physical activity is secondary to food intake.  And not everything has to be about weight loss. Sometimes it’s just about hugging a tree.

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I hike because I desperately enjoy sitting on unfamiliar rocks.

But, seriously. Do it to lose weight. 

But realistically speaking – who cares about nature? I, for one, haven’t stopped celebrating global warming since the moment Al Gore invented the internet.

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Just look how sweaty my back is. I am definitely losing weight!

Hiking and the Deep Burn.

Hiking is fantastic because…

1.   God gave you muscles. God gave you a variety of muscles. He wants you to roam this earth in sorrow and longing, constantly questioning his existence as well the purpose of your own. And he wants you to do this at various elevations.

Scrambling up and down hills engages a variety of muscle groups. This makes hiking a dynamic activity which brings you closer to God. Just ask a Rabbi and he will confirm that he has no idea what you’re talking about.

2.   You can take pictures. Hiking is scenic. When hiking, take a picture and post it on social media. This will accomplish two things. First, it will let everyone else know how much better you are than them. And second, it will create a cherished memory of a time when you let everyone else know how much better you were than them.

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Just check out this this glorious view.

 

3.   It takes a while. When you hike, the time flies because you are among friends, invariably talking shit about all of your other friends. A weekly hike gives me the extended workout I need to allow me to eat as many french fries as I can find under my couch cushion.

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Friends who hike together, talk shit together.

 

4.   It’s Conducive to Planning. At the gym, it’s easy to fall behind. One bad day at work, and suddenly you’re six tacos deep instead of six squats deep. Hiking, on the other hand, is conducive to planning.

Plan to hike EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY beginning on March 1. Compile a list of hikes, and actually schedule them out with friends. You will be accountable because these specific hikes are now in your calendar.

5.   It gives you something to talk about with fit people. Fit people love expending energy in various extraneous ways.  So if you want to talk to a fit person, try bringing up the hike you did last week. If the person is truly fit, then he or she was probably doing the very same hike as you, and at the same exact time.  Now the fit person is more likely to have sex with you.

6.   It’s good for your physical and mental health. With the exception of that scary thing from The Little Shop of Horrors, being around plants is good for your mental and physical health.

And since most of the plants on earth will be dead soon, you should take in as much nature as you can, while you still can.

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All of these plants will soon be dead.


7.    Trail Mix. 

Hiking is the only time when you are allowed to feel good about eating M&M’s. Don’t let this moment pass you by.

Downsides of Hiking

If you go hiking, you will probably get lost or worse – eaten by a bear. In either event, it won’t be a particularly pleasant way to go.

But in case you’re still interested, I find many of my hikes here. You can also check out Meetup.com for hiking groups near you.

Happy Hiking 😀

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To Lose 30 Pounds, Aim for Eight.

 

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“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.

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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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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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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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