Over time, we’ve moved to a life of convenience with more and more meals eaten out or ordered in…and now since Covid-19, food service deliveries have really ramped up. Generally, eating a home-cooked meal is the healthiest option, however with a few intentional strategies, you can still stick to your health goals even when the meal isn’t prepared at home. 

First, remember “portion distortion”…while calories are not created equal, most restaurants provide meals that, calorie-wise, could feed a small army. Fortunately, most restaurants offer calorie counts for their menu items (and if not, a quick search on the web can get your pretty darn close). Try to aim for 600-700 calories or less. And, keep an eye on “add-ons”. But please, don’t let the restaurant dictate what a true “serving” is or the proper balance of protein and veggies. Instead of eating a “multi-serving” meal, try splitting your meal with a dinner partner – or immediately put half of it in a to-go container and save the other half for the next day.

Choose your restaurant wisely. Spend a few minutes looking over restaurants that have healthier options like assorted vegetables (not fried), lower sodium, avoidance of seed oils, and other healthy protein options like fish, nuts, legumes. For your protein, look for food items that are broiled, baked or grilled vs. fried.

Upgrade! If you are eating rice, opt for brown rice if you can. Reduce the carbs as needed. One of my favorite salads comes with brown rice and I ask the restaurant to cut the amount of rice by 2/3 and increase the kale by the same. Can you ask for more veggies? Is there a gluten free bread option? 

Watch liquid sugar. In other words, sip smarter. Soft drinks/juices are not your friend (even if “sugar free”) – but that’s a topic for another day. Water (carbonated or not) or unsweetened tea are better options. There are plenty of ways to add a little flavor — my favorite is half a squeezed lemon, but any kind of fresh or frozen fruit are nice.

While we are on the subject of liquid sugar, we can throw mixed or frozen drinks (alcohol) into this section, too. Our bodies just don’t need excess energy (calories), so what will they do when we bring in more than we need? Store it! And trust me when I tell you, “You cannot out-train a bad diet”! It’s just better to make balanced choices.

Sidesare they really necessary? Can you swap them out with vegetables – or do you even really need them depending on your entree? Much of the time, sides are just more nutrition deficient calories.

Maybe cook a “little”. This is something we often incorporate at home. I’ve found with meal deliveries, vegetables may not fare well or are limited –or maybe the side has cheese or sauce we didn’t want (like one using canola oil). So, we keep a couple zucchinis, spinach, carrots or broccoli around that we can easily sauté or roast seasoned just to our liking. Or, maybe we’ll mash a bit of avocado with Landry’s seasoning. (If you haven’t experienced this delight, TRY IT!!)

My friends, I am right there with you on needing a break from cooking after a long work day, but eating out doesn’t have to derail your health goals. Just become a little more intentional around where you go and the selections you make. And, ENJOY it!

I spent the better part of the last year immersed in reading, researching and trying to better understand what we call the “aging process” as it relates to health. What I learned is: the term “aging” is really more a misnomer…

The truth is, 80% of disease/illnesses “attributed” to aging are environmentally based. In other words, WE can choose and control most of what impacts our health and longevity. That’s pretty powerful, right?

Some folks may not want to hear this. Changing habits may mean letting go of fast food, cheap convenience and hours of blue screen entertainment. I have one thing to say about that: choosing that crap (and it IS crap…) is choosing weight gain, metabolic syndrome, creeping obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and a slew of other health challenges. If you find yourself a bit reluctant to change habits, then consider the people you love. What I mean is… illness is expensive. It causes financial drain. It causes physical and emotional stress on the caretaker. If you don’t care enough about yourself, consider the impact your choices have on the ones you love. 

Today, let’s talk about Alzheimer’s. So, what is Alzheimer’s exactly? The short answer is it’s a disease resulting from a protective response from different insults and is sometimes referred to as “type 3 diabetes”.

“Cognitive decline is a major concern of the aging population, and Alzheimer’s disease is the major cause of age-related cognitive decline, with approximately 5.4 million American patients and 30 million affected globally [1]. In the absence of effective prevention and treatment, the prospects for the future are of great concern, with 13 million Americans and 160 million globally projected for 2050, leading to potential bankruptcy of the Medicare system. Unlike several other chronic illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease prevalence is on the rise, which makes the need to develop effective prevention and treatment increasingly pressing. Recent estimates suggest that AD has become the third leading cause of death in the United States [2], behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. Furthermore, it has been pointed out recently that women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s epidemic, with 65% of patients and 60% of caregivers being women [3]. Indeed, a woman’s chance of developing AD is now greater than her chance of developing breast cancer [4].  (Link to abstract if you want more!) 

Those are alarming stats. How lucky we are that we can take positive steps NOW to help reverse and prevent brain health and so called “aging”. If we are to combat Alzheimer’s, then we must identify the “insults” causing inflammatory responses within our bodies. While one size doesn’t fit all, there are common inflammatory causes to consider (or test for).  For example, you may be more affected by mercury. If so, remove the fillings, cease eating fish high in mercury and get assistance from a holistic/functional doctor to cleanse your body

The biggest factor impacting most of us is insulin resistance because our bodies were not made to take in the amount of simple carbs we’ve been ingesting.

Insulin resistance leads to metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and other health challenges.  Another possibility is chronic inflammation from other organisms. Until those are addressed, that inflammation is negatively impacting your brain. For other folks, hormonal imbalance (vitamin D levels, testosterone, thyroid, etc.) is a contributing factor.

If you are starting to think about the costs of multiple tests…stop. Many of these can be done at home or through the mail. It isn’t likely you need an entire battery of tests. HOWEVER, when you consider the financial cost of long-term care, spending a few dollars on a test or two hardly compares. And that’s not considering the impact on loved ones. According to national averages, long term care costs about $250/day or $8,000/month. Spending well under 1% on tests hardly compares. Even without testing, you can take steps NOW to avoid/address the things that cause bodily harm and work on enhancing your immunes system.

  • Enhance your diet by reducing sugar (avoid processed carbs like rice/pasta/breads/crackers/gluten)
  • Enhance your sleep (if you have apnea, get it checked out now) and let’s not forget blue light impact
  • Lower stress (meditation, community)
  • Exercise
  • Ayurveda trio including Ashwagandha

To increase knowledge and offer solutions to improve brain health, these are my top three book recommendations:

Isn’t it great that we live in a time with so many resources available to help our quest for better health—and much of it for little or no cost? Find a website or like-minded community and commit to your health quest today.

Here is some candor: you have time for what’s important.  If you are full of excuses, let’s face it… health is NOT a priority for you. I’m not saying there won’t be challenges, but you can choose to seek alternatives & options – or use those challenges as an excuse.

The thing is…to be healthy long term, we must address chronic “insults”. This is a different approach from 20th century medicine because it gets to the underlying causes & addressing them now vs. waiting until there is illness/disease and then addressing those symptoms. Trust me, early reversal is the way to go. You and your health are worth it.

There may be some trial and error along the way, but isn’t that life?  A healthy lifestyle is a journey and a science that isn’t perfect. Like any journey, it starts with intention.

It’s time to be personally accountable. We are giving ourselves diseases…through our day to day exposures and choices. I think it is liberating to know that WE can positively impact our health. The bullet list above will impact more than our brains…optimizing those components will positively impact aging and a host of other diseases, as well. Why would we not embrace this opportunity?

We have time for what is important.

Every minute is an opportunity for self-improvement and finding time IS possible.

Each day, we get the opportunity to do better, to forgive our mistakes, to love more, laugh more, learn more, and to LIVE.

What a gift!

Good morning friends, I have some good news…and some bad. Shall we hit the bad news first?  OK, here goes: There is no, definitive one-size-fits-all diet, workout, or magic supplement. That’s not too tragic, though, is it? Now for the good news: there are general principles, habits, foods, workouts, and supplements that when performed/eaten/done consistently will yield weight loss, improved health and energy.  In a nutshell, the list condensed below is where “it” is at. (“It” being the recipe for weight loss and improved health success.)
  • MOVE your body. As much as you can, as often as you can, in the manner that suits you most. We talked about sitting being the new “smoking” hazard, so get moving– as often and frequently as possible.
  • Don’t drink your calories. A fifth of what we consume (calorie wise) comes from beverages…and most are loaded with sugar and empty calories. (And yes, I am also talking about alcoholic beverages.)  Cut back! Unless of course, your “beverage” is whey protein shake—which is great post workout or as a meal replacement, in a pinch.
  • Get more sleep. Sounds easy, right? The reality is we trick ourselves into thinking we don’t need more sleep because we can survive on less. We don’t THRIVE on less, however, and performance and mental tests tells us otherwise. Sleep aids recovery, balances hormones, helps with weight loss, improves mood and more.
  • Watch “portion distortion”. Counting calories may not be your thing, but phone apps sure make it easy. What we have learned is that most people underestimate caloric intake and overestimate energy expenditure. Plus, most restaurants provide inflated serving sizes. Split a meal with a friend or take half home. Don’t be fooled by correlating empty, excessive calories as “value”.
  • Cheat foods are ok. Alright, even saying “cheat” or labeling foods as “good” or “bad” is not really a good thing to do. Consider colorful, real foods vs. processed, but instead of striving for perfection, strive for “good enough”. Or, try what I refer to as the “Catholic school girl diet”: eat like an angel 6 days a week and on the 7th day, make the devil blush! In other words, it’s ok to indulge a little. Just don’t let it derail you and keep it as an exception and not the rule. Remember, consistency is king.
  • Go heavy. Lifting weights, that is. Sorry ladies, you will NOT build huge muscles. And regardless of your age, everyone needs to lift heavy and combat muscle decline. Decreasing muscle mass equates to body fat increases AND a slower metabolism. Lift heavy and fire up your metabolically active tissue. NOW.
  • Variety is the spice of life. Mix up your workouts and you’ll get more out of them.
  • Find like-minded peeps. Community is important and like-minded people provide motivation, mentoring and help keep you accountable. I feel so fortunate for the fitness friends I’ve trained & learned from over the years.

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  • Adkins really did have it right. I’m not advocating a specific diet. Honestly, the best plan out there was laid out in the Old Testament. Real food, plain and simple. BUT, if you integrate a practice of carb swapping knocking out pastas and breads, it’s one of the easier ways to help you lose weight as many folks are sensitive to carbs. My fiancé and I are all over cauliflower options in lieu of pasta, potatoes, or bread. (Check out the recipe section of my blog for ideas.)
  • And about that Adkins….eat more fat. Yes, she said that. As much as 35% of your daily calories can be a mix of nuts, avocados, or healthy oils. It’s the TRANS fats you want to avoid like the plague.
  • You really can work out anywhere. Your body can provide great workouts. A jump rope is $10. Squat, climb stairs, step up, jump rope, do jumping jacks or push ups (from knees or feet), etc. A gym is not required.
  • Multi-function exercises work your body better and can aid fat loss. Consider a dumbbell squat to should press. Or, a deadlift to back row.
  • Regarding food, adding solid protein at each meal or snack will help keep you full and keep your metabolism going.
  • Hydrate. Dehydration can make you think you are hungry, impede performance, and affect your mood (plus a whole lot of other things). Water or tea help control your appetite and tea has so many wonderful benefits (see earlier blog). Drink water, drink tea, try some of the drinks I shared in my past blog, but HYDRATE, often.
Last of all, be kind to yourself. YOU are amazing and wonderful. And far from perfect. This is a journey we make together. Laugh at your mistakes and keep trying. YOU are worth it.
 Besides, “what have you got to GAIN”?
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(My earliest health & fitness mentor, Sharon Turrentine, used to ask this Q and it’s a great one. I met her when I was 19 and she was 39 and training for a body building contest. She looked amazing then AND still looks amazing today. A true testament to a healthy living lifestyle. Many thanks, my friend!  You have influenced my life in such a positive way.)
Until next time time, live fit, choose healthy, laugh often.
Lisa

 

A recent study of our US dining habits by the American Cancer Society took a look at 12k adults over a 7 year period. According to the study, we eat out an average of 2X a week, taking in an extra 200 calories…and the quality of those calories is more saturate fat, sugar and sodium.

Their lead researcher Binh Nguyen, PhD, said “If you eat out 2 days per week and do not exercise or reduce intake during the day, the additional caloric intake is about 20,000 calories per year, the equivalent of about 6 pounds annually.”

Yikes. Ok, I am an analyst by day, so I immediately  started doing more  scenarios…what if we eat out 3X a week, or 5X a week, or more..? You get the picture. Scary huh? Couple that with significantly more sedentary lifestyles (sitting is the new “smoking”) and it’s no wonder we have the health challenges we do.

Now, you can eat out and still eat healthy, but it will take a little planning in advance. Try these simple strategies:

Before you head out, look up the restaurant’s menu online. Most have calorie counts for better decision making. Just remember, many calorie totals exclude salad dressings and other toppings.
If you can’t get calorie counts, keep an eye out for lower fat options like clear, broth-based soups or spinach salads with the dressing on the side. With entrees, go for grilled, broiled, or steamed vs. fried. You can always ask your waiter for healthier options and most restaurants will work with you on adjustments. (high maintenance ordering as my kids like to tease!)
Remember portion distortion. Most entrees will serve 2-3 people! Split your meal AND save a buck. This works even better with desserts…if you must indulge in the chocolate cake (Lisa), get a spoon for everyone at the table!

 

Be fit, live well, laugh often.

 

Tom Nikkola, CSCS, CISSN, Pn1 recently shared a blog with the above title. If you are like me, you appreciate Cliff notes, so here they are, short ‘n sweet:

  1. You’re probably not a high school athlete anymore.

Be sensible, ‘nuff said.

  1. Your body will change when you challenge it, not when you punish it.

One of my favorite quotes is, “You can’t expect 100% results with 50% of the effort.” Training is like life, you get out of it what you put into it.

  1. Exercise is just a stimulus. Nutrition and sleep are what actually change your body.

Train to change your body, then fuel and recover (sleep) properly to allow your body and hormones to do their thing.

  1. Sometimes, doing an exercise wrong is worse than not doing it at all.

I’ve been certified for over 20 years, but will be first to admit I don’t know it all and I love to learn new ways to train and/or a better way. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Keep learning & sharpen the saw.

  1. The sauna and steam room can help you recover faster.

Heat speeds recovery, lowers oxidation, increases growth hormone, and is detoxifying. Plus, it makes your body inhospitable to unwelcomed bacteria and viruses.

  1. Nutrition and supplementation can lessen the muscle soreness.

This subject alone could be a year’s worth of blogs. Let food be they medicine and medicine be thy food. If you do supplement, consider curcumin and/or coconut oil.

  1. You don’t have to be a runner, but you should view the process of getting fit as a marathon, and not a sprint.

You didn’t get where you are overnight, so don’t expect overnight results. One bad meal won’t make you fat—on the other hand, one week of workouts & healthier eating won’t make you fit.

Until next time, live strong. Be fit. Laugh often. And smile.

What have you got to gain?

 

Interested in reading more about the benefits of Curcumin or Coconut Oil?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-weil-md/turmeric-health-have-a-happy-new-year_b_798328.html

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-Curcumin%20(TURMERIC).aspx?activeIngredientId=662&activeIngredientName=Curcumin%20(TURMERIC)

http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/charles-mattocks/benefits-coconut-oil

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/01/coconut-oil-benefits_n_3194782.html

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/health_benefits_of_coconut_coconut_oil_coconut_milk_coconut_water_coconut_flour?page=2