Life, Motivational, Nutrition, Wellness

Diet vs. Lifestyle

Diet.An ugly 4 letter word.

An ugly 4 letter word.

A rollercoaster of emotions and reactions for such a small word.

But it seems that everybody that we know – aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, etc. – is on a “diet.” Then there are all types of diets like low carb, keto, and paleo…just to name a few. Not to mention the famed “Grapefruit Diet” and it’s vegetable counterpart the “Cabbage Soup Diet.”

We are constantly being bombarded by advertisements for different products claiming to be the “miracle product” to “cure obesity.” In reality, they are over-processed, chemically-laden food-like products that essentially starve your body into submission.

Let’s face it…..

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I have an assignment for you. It’s really simple and will take only a couple of minutes.

I want you to sit there and count how many diet plans you have been on in the last 6 months…in the last year…in the last 2 years.

You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. (If you choose to, please know that I will not judge you at all!!)

Have an idea of the number? Great. Now, think about what happened each time your diet plan ended. Were your results maintainable? Did you “crash and burn”? Did you gain the weight you had lost….and then some?

You’re not alone.

According to the website Fitness for Weight Loss, over 100 million Americans are on some kind of diet. Within 5 years of beginning a diet plan, almost 95% of dieters regain the weight they had lost.

And I’ve been one of “those people” – not happy with the health/state of my body and desperate to change that. I have tried a lot of different things over the years only to have minimal success in losing weight…..and I probably succeeded in hurting my body in the process.

 

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The Diet Cycle

 

 

Let’s switch gears for a few minutes.

I want you to visualise your world without obsessive calorie/macro counting. A world where you’re free to eat 4 slices of pizza at a birthday party or 2 big brownies for a special treat. A world where no food guilt exists.

How would you feel in such a world? Would “Heaven” be a good description?

Do you believe that world is within reach?

No? Let me help you.

That world is called “Lifestyle.” You are no longer dieting and can still enjoy your favorite foods like pizza, brownies, and hamburgers.

The key to living a healthy lifestyle is to eat whole, nutritious foods 95% of the time while still indulging yourself 5% of the time.

 

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Here’s an example:

You’ve just started your journey towards better health. You have been doing exceptionally well – your willpower is like steel.  You are now on Day 3 and are being tempted by the thoughts of a nice, juicy cheeseburger with all the fixin’s and fries smothered in cheese and bacon.

You have a choice – eat that meal today OR save that meal for a Friday night date with your Significant Other. Either way, it’s a win-win because you get to have that meal.

If you were on a diet, chances are you wouldn’t be “allowed” that meal…or you’d “spend” all you had in points/macros/calories for the day to enjoy the meal. If you chose to eat the meal on Day 3, you may feel like you cheated and that you might as well give up.

At least, that has been my experience.

With eating nutritiously as a lifestyle, there are no guilt trips associated with foods. To top it off, the more plant-based you can get your eating, the healthier you can potentially become.

**Note: I do not advocate one particular eating style (carnivore vs herbivore vs omnivore.**

Personally, I love the freedom I have from eating nutritiously as a lifestyle. I no longer feel guilty for eating “off plan” and can explore different diets. (I use this in the context that a diet is what a person eats…e.g. plant-based.)

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Post your comments below. I would love to know what you think about this topic. 🙂

 

Nutrition, Wellness

The Power to Choose …

Power. Capacity. Rule.

What do these words have in common? They all convey the ability to do or act; the capability of doing or accomplishing something. These words describe people, societies, and governments alike. Bill Gates, the Freemasons, and US government – these three have power. They have the ability to act and are capable of accomplishing something.

But power is not limited to the wealthy or the governments. Ordinary people like you and me have power as well.

We have the power to choose to eat healthily.

Despite our being surrounded by convenience foods and other processed food-like items, we are capable of choosing fresh, whole foods to fuel our bodies. (I spoke more about this in my last blog Back to Basics.) It’s not complicated and doesn’t have to cost a fortune, either.

You may be wondering, “That’s great and all, but what does healthy eating look like on a daily basis??” I wish I could give you a concrete answer and formula to follow, but there are none. Each person’s diet (by “diet” I mean food common to the area/society/culture) is different, and certain food allergies may be present. What I can do is give some general guidelines and share my personal experiences.

The Power…

The fuel we get from food is in the form of calories, which are further broken down into macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, proteins). Then there are the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). A healthy diet will consist of a balance of macros and micros.

The generally agreed upon macro split for getting started on a healthy diet is 40c/40p/20f. That means each meal should be 40% carbs, 40% protein, and 20% fat. Let’s say you are sitting down to a breakfast of 500 calories, then your macros will be 200 grams of carbs, 200 grams of protein, and 100 grams of fat. That may look like this: an omelet using 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites, low-fat feta cheese, spinach, and oregano.

Another thing to keep in mind with your new way of eating is hydration. It is estimated that our bodies are made of 60% water. Water is important for proper functioning of the nervous system, for lubricating the joints, for temperature regulation, and for many other important bodily functions. We lose water through breathing, sweating, and digestion so it’s important to rehydrate. The accepted rule of thumb is to drink 1 oz of water per pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you should be drinking 150 oz of water. Be careful, though, not to drink the water too fast….that can cause hyponatremia (or water intoxication) where the electrolytes – especially sodium – in your body are diluted too much. The max amount of water to drink per hour is 33 oz.

To Choose….

Fresh food vs processed food.

Cokes – or sodas or pops, depending on where you live – vs water.

The power to choose is yours.

What do you choose?

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Nutrition, Wellness

Back to Basics

Good, wholesome foods are the building blocks of a healthy body. Fresh fruit and vegetables provide the needed vitamins and minerals (or micronutrients, also called “micros”) without overloading the body with carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (or macronutrients, also called “macros”). Clean meats – skinless chicken breast, turkey, lean cuts of beef, fish – provide the body with the macros for building/maintaining muscle: fats, proteins, and a few carbs (depending on the meat.)

Over the past decades, society as a whole has veered away from home-cooked whole foods in favor of convenience foods – microwavable meals, tv dinners, meal bars/shakes, etc. In the days of my grandparents’ youth, each meal consisted of fresh fruits and/or vegetables and a meat/protein source that, in most cases, were gathered that morning or slaughtered the day before. By the time my parents came along, advances were being made in food science that made convenience foods available – a revolutionary thing in its day. (Keep in mind that this was the age of the Space Race. I’m pretty sure things were being marketed in such a way to make the general public feel as though they were eating just like an astronaut.) Also during this time, the number of women entering the workforce was increasing.

***Let me insert here that I have worked outside the home for many years and have used convenience foods to feed my family. Now, I’m more of a traditionalist in that I stay home and prepare from-scratch meals. I am not saying that convenience foods are “of the devil” or anything like that because there are days when I prepare convenience foods because life can still be pretty hectic for me.***

Most – if not all – convenience foods have a lot of added fats and sugars to compensate for the amount of processing that they have gone through. Because of the large amounts of processed foods present in the average person’s diet (or the SAD – Standard American Diet) – in addition to a decrease in the amount of daily exercise – society has seen an upward trend in weight gain/obesity. (I do realize that medication and other factors influence weight gain or loss.)

Now the current societal trend is weight loss. Diet programs and diet supplements abound. You can barely turn around in the store without being bombarded with pills/shakes/meal replacements promising quick and easy weight loss. And watching your favorite tv program is all but impossible for the number of commercials being aired – and a majority of those are pushing a “miracle supplement” or “special meal plan” to help you shed fat fast without exercise. While these claims may be true, you need to ask yourself these questions: “What happens when I stop taking XYZ supplement or stop eating ABC company’s food?” “Is this a sustainable way of living?” I bet you’ll find that the answer is a big fat NO.

The best way to provide a sustainable healthy lifestyle for weight loss is to get back to the basics: daily exercise – cardio and strength training – and more home-cooked meals that incorporate more whole foods.

And the switch doesn’t have to be drastic, either.

If you’ve not exercised a day in your life since childhood – or it’s been a super long time since you’ve stepped foot in a gym – begin by exercising 2-3 days per week whether you go to a gym or do it at home. If you can afford one, I highly suggest hiring a personal trainer to help you get started. If you can’t afford to hire a personal trainer, there are a lot of places online that provide solid information. (One such website is bodybuilding.com.) YouTube is home to a ton of fitness people. A couple of my favorites are Amanda Bucci and Christine Hronec. They both teach about healthy ways of living, which includes sample workout routines. (Amanda holds a BS in Nursing, and Christine is a chemical engineer.)

Cooking from scratch can be time-consuming and hard to fit into a busy schedule. I can totally relate. If your schedule is so slammed among “adult things” and “children things” (ball, dance, etc.), you simply do not have the time to dedicate to cooking. And that’s OK. Work to incorporate 1 home-cooked, from-scratch meal per week and go from there. One tool that I have in my kitchen “arsenal” is my slow cooker. Soups, roasts, home bbq, beans and the like can be assembled in the morning before running out the door and will be ready when you get home, and your home will smell as though you’d been at the stove all day.

Take your health back into your own hands by getting back to the basics of exercise and nutrition. The changes need to be easy enough to be a sustainable way of life for you. Incorporate more fresh and whole foods into your meal plan. Start an exercise program at home. Learn all you can and apply what you learn to your life.

What are some of your favorite tips for getting back to the basics?

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Life, Nutrition, Wellness

Nutrition

It’s what fuels the body. It provides the building blocks for the myriad of production lines in the body. Some have an abundance of it while others are scouring uncommon places for it. It can be good for the body or not so good for the body.

What is it that I’m talking about?

Nutrition.

What, exactly, is nutrition?

According to dictionary.com, nutrition is defined as “the process by which organisms take in and utilize food material.”

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be taking you through a series about nutrition. We’ll start by getting back to the basics of nutrition before moving on to the balanced plate. Then I’ll talk you through diet versus lifestyle – one, quite honestly, I struggle with myself!

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Ketones, Nutrition

Ketones: When You Have Too Many

Welcome to the 3rd post in the Ketone Series! If you are reaching this post first, go check out the first 2 posts in the series here and here.

We have a handle on what ketones are and how they can help with weight management, so let’s talk about what happens when you have a buildup of ketones.

Ketosis

Being in a state of ketosis isn’t harmful. In fact, when we are in a fast (meaning we aren’t consuming any food) we are in ketosis. It is a natural thing that happens every day – especially in the mornings when we first wake up.

What “being in ketosis” means is that the body has a higher-than-usual amount of ketones floating around. (Remember, ketones burn fat for fuel as opposed to burning glucose.) The body normally eliminates the excess ketones in the urine.

But what happens when you have too many ketones floating around?

Ketoacidosis

Ketoacidosis – also know as diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA – happens when the ketone levels in the body reach such high numbers that it causes the body’s pH level to become acidic. This is a very dangerous situation that can lead to death if not treated right away.

It is very important to keep a check on your ketone levels as well as your blood glucose levels – especially if you are a diabetic.

Symptoms of Ketosis and Ketoacidosis

At the time of this writing, I haven’t been able to find any symptoms of being in ketosis…..other than potential fat loss.

Symptoms of ketoacidosis include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Thirst or a very dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • High blood glucose (blood sugar) levels
  • High levels of ketones in the urine
  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Dry or flushed skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain (Vomiting can be caused by many illnesses, not just ketoacidosis. If vomiting continues for more than 2 hours, contact your health care provider.)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fruity odor on breath
  • A hard time paying attention, or confusion

Before you start this type of diet (Ketogenic) or take supplements to put you in a state of ketosis, check with your healthcare professional!

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Nutrition

Entering an Improvement Phase

Today marks a new phase in my life – one in which I will go from a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) to a Work-At-Home-Mom (WAHM) while going through a student-at-home-mom. Yes…I’m headed back to school.

I have always loved the medical field – especially anatomy and nutrition – but I figured out during my second year of nursing school that this wasn’t the path for me. So I went kinda polar opposite – I got a degree in accounting. While I have enjoyed what I do (which is seasonal), my heart has tugged me towards nutrition.

A few years ago, I joined a supplement company as an ambassador in an effort to appease my heart. What that did was to make the yearning for a nutrition degree even stronger! I want to be able to help people beyond “Take this supplement for better health.” I still love the company and still believe in the products – I’m not leaving the company any time soon – but I want to branch out more into the world of nutrition.

I’m a sucker for learning. I always have been. As I progress through my schooling, I plan to share tidbits of what I’ve learned. My goal with this is to create a business being a health coach.

This is my phase. What phase are you in?