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Monday, September 9, 2013

Bloglovin is Awesome!

Hello everyone! It's been a really long time since we've seen each other around. This site is packed full of awesome nutrition information and one day, there will surely be more added. At the moment, life is more than hectic but I'll still be posting from time to time. Feel free to add me on Bloglovin and keep up with all my random posts. :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

In Need of a Wake-up Call?

Coffee Anyone?

Hello everyone! It's been ages!!! I've been extremely busy with...well...life, but I figured I should try to get back to blogging because...well...it's fun! :)  (P.S. Guess what still isn't working?? Attaching images!! grr!!)

So, who loves coffee? (jumps up and down!) This girl does!!! I love black coffee, flavored coffee, iced coffee, hot coffee, caffeinated, decaffeinated, baked into cookies and cakes, used as flavoring for icing, scented candles, etc.....absolutely love the stuff! Ever had a mocha flavored cupcake with nutella frosting??? AHHH-MAAZ-ING! Just sayin...

Since I started my training for the fitness competition, I have had to give up a lot in the coffee area of my life. :(  It's not that I can't live without it, but it IS delicious and it HAS helped me get that little kick start to my mornings in the past. So, what is so horrible about coffee that makes it so that I'm not allowed to have more than one black cup a day during my pre-competition stage? Well, let's look at the pros and cons of coffee, shall we? :)

Pros
  • According to recent studies, daily coffee consumption may help to lower the risks of strokes, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression (in women), cirrhosis, etc. Click here, here, and here  to be taken to the sources.
  • Coffee is full of antioxidants (it is "the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern Western diet") which may help boost the immune system Click here to find out about it
  • Coffee is a natural stimulant which not only helps you understand and retain information better, but it's also been proven to help you exercise up to fifteen percent longer due to its fatigue fighting powers.
  • It prevents one from feeling sore during workouts because it is a natural analgesic.
  • Coffee stimulates the pleasure center by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain.
  • It increases the metabolism and oxidizes fatty acids faster, leading to weight loss.
  • Studies have shown that coffee is a strong bowel stimulant and a mild diuretic
Cons
  • High coffee consumption  can lead to mild increases in cholesterol and heart disease
  • People who smoke metabolize caffeine faster, causing them to consume more caffeine which could prove to weaken their health along with the smoking later on
  • If under the age of 55, studies have shown that consumption of more than four cups a day could lead to early death (although, these studies also showed that those under 55 who drink high amounts of coffee daily also tended to smoke and poor physical fitness levels) Click here to find out more
  • The caffeine found in coffee is addictive. Cutting oneself off of caffeine can lead to headaches, irritability, and increased fatigue until the caffeine withdrawals have passed.
  • The dark color of coffee can stain teeth and the bitter scent of the coffee beans could cause bad breath
  • Since coffee contains a natural stimulant, high consumption of coffee can lead to feelings of anxiety and/or stress
  • Some studies showed that coffee can cause ulcers in the stomach lining if consumed in high amounts
  • Some studies have shown that coffee can increase sterility if consumed in high amounts
  • The flavorings and sugars normally added to coffee are extremely high in calories (one creamer cup of flavored creamer is 50 calories!!!!)
Clearly, the risks associated with drinking coffee all pertain to drinking too much coffee. So, how much coffee is too much? Study results concerning over consumption of coffee range from saying "no more than 2 cups a day" to "no more than 4 cups a day" and even "no more than 6 cups a day." One cup equals 8oz. of coffee. Six cups a day seems extreme in any situation! If you're at that point, I would definitely suggest scaling it back a bit!!!

So don't be afraid to reach for that morning cup o'Joe. Just be sure to limit yourself to one or two cups a day and everything should be fine! :)

*Still wondering why I can't have more than one cup of black coffee a day while I'm prepping for competition? Some of my uptake drinks already contain caffeine and consuming too much is obviously bad for one's health. Also, it's important to drink water more than anything during competition prep. and the coffee can get in the way of that. It can also mess up one's water weight near the end of the prep. phase right before competition.

Have a great day!!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What State Are You in Now?

Hello everyone!!! I hope you are all doing well!

Let's get right to it!

A few days ago we talked about taking time for yourself to relax and allowing your body to rest. Today we are going to dig a little deeper into the topic of resting and discuss why it is necessary in order to build and/or tone muscle. This information is beneficial for those trying to cut weight or bulk up,(or in other words, lose fat and/or gain muscle :).

There are two words you must understand in order to know how to prepare an adequate diet and exercise program. No matter what your goal is: losing weight, gaining muscle, toning muscle...you must understand when your body is at work vs. when it is at rest. No, I'm not specifically talking about when you are sleeping or when you are awake. I'm focusing more on muscle work vs. muscle rest cycles.

Most people believe that they are building muscle while they are performing an exercise. They imagine that each extra lunge or pull-up will pack on the muscle or help them drop weight right before their eyes. Then they leave the gym feeling pumped, smiling to themselves as they reflect on the amount of muscle they just built or fat they just lost. The truth, however, is just the opposite.

While you are at the gym (or workout location of choice), you are actually breaking your muscles down. This is known as the catabolic state. Each exercise targeting a specific muscle causes the muscle tissue in that area to be torn (i.e. break down). That being said, the more exercises you do focusing on one area, the more the muscle in that area will be broken down. Now, before you start thinking "Oh boy, I better stop exercising or I won't have any muscles left," let me advise you that this break-down is necessary to build muscle later. Muscle tissues are broken down during the catabolic state in order to create energy for the workout. The problem lies in the fact that most people think in order to build muscle, they have to spend hours in the gym targeting that muscle. Truth be told, you should only target specific muscle groups for up to 1 1/2 hours. Anything after that will deplete your muscle tissue too much and cause your muscles to become smaller rather than larger over time. Keep in mind, this is not a quick or approved way to lose weight (for those trying to cut).

The opposite of the catabolic state is the anabolic state (i.e. the process that occurs when muscle is being built). When the body is in an anabolic state, it is at rest. This is actually when your muscles are building/toning and when fat is being lost. After a workout, the body goes into a resting mode (anabolic state) in order to repair all of the damaged muscle tissue resulting from the exercises performed. During this time, the body breaks down fat molecules and nutrients from the diet and uses glucose to provide the energy for the tissue repair. (Many believe that fat can be turned into muscle, where in reality, fat is broken down and parts of it are used as an energy source to repair muscle tissue damage - leading to stronger, bigger muscle). So remember, if you want to build muscle...you have to let your body rest!!!

Going along with the importance of allowing your body time to recover, it is also important to remember that your body needs adequate nutrients to help fuel the process of fat depletion and muscle growth. If the body does not get enough nutrients before or after a workout, it is forced into a catabolic state. This is because the body must find an energy source for rebuilding the muscle from somewhere and if there is not a steady stream of fuel from a proper diet available, it will attempt to use more muscle tissue (i.e. break it down more) in order to try to repair itself. Clearly, the body cannot effectively build muscle by using muscle, thus, the muscle will continue to be broken down and the body will become weak.

In order to prevent an on-going catabolic state, one must provide the body with a protein source every 2-3 hours. The body is able to use protein to fuel muscle repair and an anabolic state is able to continue without interruption (from starvation mode). The more exercise you do, the more protein you will need. This is why protein supplements are so popular in the fitness industry (not to mention it keeps you feeling full longer, decreasing the need for unnecessary snacking - leading to weight loss over time). By supplying the body with a rich protein source before, during, and/or after a workout, the time frame of being in a catabolic state is decreased and muscles are able to be built (repaired) faster. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a small protein-filled snack before or after your workout such as protein shakes, lean meats, Greek yogurt, or 1% cottage cheese.

Brief overview of tips:
  • Don't work out longer than 1 1/2 hours at a time when trying to build muscle or cut weight
  • If working out longer than an hour, supplement your body with electrolytes and/or protein
  • Allow your body to rest after all workouts
  • Never workout the same muscle group more than once every couple of days (to allow adequate rest time)
  • Eat protein every 2-3 hours to provide enough fuel for rebuilding the damaged muscle tissue
I hope you understand your workout and/or diet a little more now! Click here to go to a great source for more on this information! 

Have a great day!
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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Take Time to Take Time...for Yourself

Hey Everyone!!!

For some reason, I have been unable to post any pictures on here for the last week. I feel like giving up, but hopefully it will all be fixed soon. What's a blog without pictures right?

So, I know I've been absent from this blog over the last couple of days, but I promise it was completely necessary! You know that feeling when you feel like if you stop moving for even a second, your life will collapse into itself and you'll never be able to catch back up? No, it's just me huh??!? Well, that's the kind of week I've been having. Between baking tons of cake pops and cookies for my niece's dance recital, flipping around on the trapeze getting ready for our performance in July, going to birthday parties, working out with my trainer at Hitchfit, cooking healthy meals, practicing choreo. for new Zumba workouts, etc., etc., etc....I'm a little overbooked! Thank goodness it should slow down a little bit soon. :) So, with all that, I needed a break from writing just so I could keep my head above the water....BUT now I'm back from outer space...oh yes...that just happened! :)

Since I just enlightened you on all of my activities, I feel today's topic should be based around something I don't do well (and maybe you don't either): Relaxing!!!

It sounds simple enough, doesn't it? What does it mean to relax the mind and body? Take a few breaths, count to ten, take a nap? All good ideas, but what is the real goal behind all of it and why is it necessary? I mean, the body will tell you when its had too much going on, right? Yes...but usually a hospital visit or a mental breakdown occurs in order for you to get to that point first (if you don't realize that you need a break in time). After all, some stress is good for us...it keeps us motivated to reach our goals. The problem lies in the fact that some of us strive so hard to reach our goals that we end up forgetting to take care of ourselves in the process, which generally ends up delaying our goals anyway while we are forced by our bodies to recover.

Taking time to relax is extremely important! As our bodies (including our minds) take on the stress from daily activities, our muscles tighten. This is followed by increased activity by the heart and lungs, as our organs try to stay ahead of our needs. Our minds revert back to the instinctive idea of fighting or fleeing the object causing the stress and we reach a peak in physical and mental pressure. This occurs many times throughout the day and becomes extremely taxing on our bodies, leading to chronic illness if not treated properly in time. The only way to treat this process (or slow it down), is to take time to relax each day.

According to Dartmouth University, stress is one of the number one causes of chronic illness in the world today. There are at least six chronic illnesses caused by stress to include heart conditions, cancer, cirrhosis, depression, etc. Click here to go to the source of this information. You MUST take the time to take time for yourself!!! Even 1 minute of relaxation can make a difference for your overall level of health.

So, with all this in mind, take the next minute to close your eyes. Tune out all the noise around you. Put on some relaxing music if you need/want it. Now...spend one minute clearing your mind. If you find yourself thinking about something that needs to be done, push it out of focus for the time being and instead, focus on breathing. If you have a hard time focusing on nothing, count the numbers 1 to 60 to give your mind something to occupy itself. Breathe in deeply. Most of us take shallow breaths throughout the day and our lungs are never able to expand fully in order to get enough oxygen. It's amazing what a couple deep breaths can do to instantly provide a relaxed state of mind.

Our bodies are constantly fighting to keep up with our rigorous schedules. If you don't take care of your body, it won't take care of you. So, give your body a break. Get a massage, take a hot shower/bath, meditate to peaceful music, sit in a quiet room and focus on breathing, practice yoga, go for a walk, etc. It's not selfish to take time for yourself. After all, if you don't, someone else will be taking their time to take care of you later (and to me, that's more selfish since it's preventable now).

Now BREATHE...

Have a great day! See you tomorrow!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Planning a Balanced Workout

* Please picture a dictionary here for the moment. (Getting really tired of the image poster not working on here...two days in a row already!)


Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well!

Today is going to be about learning the meaning behind some common words heard often in the fitness world. Let me start off by saying that I read a lot of fitness articles (and by a lot, I mean around 10-20 or more per day). It's an obsession.  After reading all these articles, the fitness "lingo" has become familiar to me and I no longer have to look words up every five seconds...okay two.

I began thinking of writing this post after having a brief conversation with one of my friends, who had to stop me every couple of seconds to ask me what something I had said meant. I guess I could feel super smart and allow myself the ego boost off of it, but I'd rather allow myself to feel the need to share my knowledge so that all of you could understand the fitness world (and your own workouts) better. :) After all, how can you get the full benefits of an exercise if you don't understand how your body is reacting to it or how to take care of yourself prior to, during, or after performing it?

The two words that we will be discussing today are: aerobic and anaerobic. I'm sure you have heard one (or both) of these words at some point if you have been involved in any kind of exercise program, but let's take some time now to really break them down and understand them.

According to the www.livestrong.com website, the term aerobic was created by Kenneth Cooper in the 60's. The word can be broken down into its original Latin form: aero-bic, literally meaning air-life (Click here for the source of this info.). In layman's terms, aerobic (in the fitness world) means to perform an exercise which causes one's body to move oxygen at a steady pace throughout the blood stream - preventing fatigue. In other words, (to make it even easier to understand) if your breathing pattern does not increase during your exercise routine, the exercise you have chosen is likely low-intensity and considered aerobic. This includes exercises such as casual walking, casual swimming, light yoga, and/or stretching. Low-intensity workouts are beneficial for everyone, as calories are still being burned at a notable rate for every 20-25 minutes of exercise; however, they are most beneficial for those with joint pain, recent surgery and/or trauma, or pregnancy. Furthermore, all workouts should begin with a warm-up and cool-down phase, which would fall into the low-intensity (aerobic) range. Keep in mind, only the beginning of the warm-up phase falls into the low-intensity range, as the point of a warm-up is to speed up the heart rate to meet or rise above the aerobic threshold.

The second term we are going to discuss is anaerobic. As with most words in the English language beginning with an-, un-, in-, or non-, the use of "an-" tells the reader that the word (in this case anaerobic) is used to describe the opposite of the definition for the main word it precedes (in this case aerobic). Therefore, the word anaerobic (in the fitness world) can be broken down simply as any exercise which causes one to push the body past its ability to move oxygen quickly enough throughout the bloodstream to prevent fatigue. When the body cannot move oxygen fast enough throughout the bloodstream, the person's metabolism changes. Since oxygen is used by the body to remove cell waste (released by the cells during exercise), a lack of oxygen causes the waste to build up around the muscles being used (i.e. fatigue). High-intensity (and some moderate intensity) workouts fall into this category, to include: weight lifting, crossfit, powercut, zumba, biking, running, etc. Basically, if you are breathing heavily during your workout, you have crossed into the anaerobic phase. This is not a bad thing in general, as hundreds of calories are burned during this phase; however, like everything else - it's best used in moderation. Anaerobic exercise is not advised for those with breathing problems, joint pain, etc. Click here to learn more about aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise. Consult with your physician before starting any moderate or high-intensity workout program.

Within the last fifteen years, the fitness industry has been pushing interval training (workouts that combine low, moderate, and high intensity exercises all into one program). Interval training has been linked to improving the amount of time that aerobic activity can be performed (a.k.a. endurance level improved), increased weight loss (as the constant increase and decrease of the heart rate burns more calories in shorter time frames than only aerobic or anaerobic exercise alone), increased HGH production, increased metabolism, decrease in fat while increasing muscle, etc. Click here to learn more about interval training.

Hopefully you now understand aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise better than you did before you started reading this post! :) If you have questions, feel free to ask AND make sure you come back tomorrow to learn more about taking care of your body before, during, and after a workout! :)

Have a great day!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Lift It to Lose It and Improve It

* Imagine an image of free weights posted here for the moment please. :) For some reason the image poster is down again. Grr!!! :(


So how is everyone doing today?? :) I hope you are all doing well! Yesterday was an exhausting day for me, but so worth it! I received my certification for Zumba Basic Instructor yesterday after attending an eight-hour class with Tony Witt! It was sooooo much fun but you definitely earn your certificate! We danced almost the entire time! Anyway, so now I'm ready to start leading classes and I can't wait to see where the journey takes me! Maybe I'll see some of you there! :)

On to the topic of the day...

I'm growing a bit tired of doing food posts at the moment so I figured I'd switch it up a bit and go with the topic of exercise instead. Some of you may have noticed that the workout I posted this past week was a bulking routine. I find that the word bulking is intimidating to some, especially women. Women generally stick with cutting routines because they want to stay lean and toned while men generally go with bulking routines because they want their muscles to be stacked. Most women do not understand that they will get cut results faster if they weight lift...yes, it's true...you won't look like Arnold ladies! :)

Women do not have the required testosterone levels to stack muscle the way that men do, so lifting weights will only help you get cut rather than stacked. :) So - ladies - if you want nice toned muscles and you HATE HATE HATE cardio, weight lifting is a great solution...and for those who LOVE cardio, weight lifting will still get you results faster and you will be a healthier "lean" because your muscles will be given the proper attention they deserve (specific muscles on specific days will help give attention to all the muscles rather than the full-body cardio pump workout that may actually only be working out your legs and/or core, while neglecting your arms, back, and shoulders).

Don't worry fellas, this post is not only for the ladies! Next we will discuss the benefits of weight lifting for everyone. (Note: Before beginning any weight-lifting regimen, consult with your physician. Also, if you have back, shoulder, or knee issues and your doctor approves weight lifting, don't go crazy with it. The idea is to get stronger and healthier over time - it is not a competition to see who can lift the most. You must always work up to your goal!!! Lastly, always have a partner to help guide you during free weight squats or bench-presses! Lifting alone can be dangerous! Okay, all my warnings are out there!! :)

So what are the benefits of weight lifting (besides looking like a sexy beast? :)

  • Weight loss - Even though weight lifting is associated with bulking routines, the result of strength training with weights is lean muscles (not bulky) with thick fibers. These thick fibers allow for better performance in endurance sports and balance due to the increased amount of molecules the body provides to move oxygen throughout the building muscle. This has been linked to helping restore the nervous system if it is imbalanced as well. Click here for the source of this information.
  • Faster Response Times - As muscles are built using weight training, the brain is sending and receiving signals to carry out the exercise. The more the brain is trained to interact with the muscles, the faster the brain-to-muscle response time will be overall. Resistance training has been linked to increasing the brain's function level more than other types of training because more muscles are being focused on at once.
  • Decreases the risk for type 2 diabetes - In order for muscle tissue to be built, glucose is required. The muscles obtain this glucose from the bloodstream. As more glucose is taken out of the bloodstream, the person's blood sugar level decreases. This helps keep the blood sugar level balanced instead of having to consume more sugar on top of what is already in the bloodstream to fuel the muscle growth. Since the bloodstream must remain balanced in order to grow healthy muscles, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is decreased. Click here to be taken to the source of this information
  • Decreases the risk for cardiovascular disease - The body generally stores fat around the organs as a back up in case of starvation (visceral fat). Since this stored fat is typically not needed in this day and age (as it may have been hundreds of years ago when food was not as readily available), it never gets used. This can lead to heart disease as the fat builds up around the organ and prevents it from receiving the oxygen and/or nutrients it needs. Weight lifting depletes the fat and lowers this risk. Weight lifting also contributes to decreasing cardiovascular disease due to the amount of oxygen that is pushed through the heart during lifting sessions. As the pulse increases from lifting weights, the level of oxygen pushed through the blood stream increases and is carried into and away from the heart. This increased oxygen increases the heart's ability to function properly.
  • Decreases the amount of muscle loss caused by aging - Between our 40's and 50's, if our muscles are not used regularly, they start to decrease in size. This leaves our bodies weak when it comes to performing simple tasks and causes us to fall apart faster. Weight lifting keeps the muscles, brain, and transmitters between the two active; thus, the muscle tissue is prevented from breaking down - keeping us healthier and stronger longer. Click here for the source of this information.
  • Reduces stress and depression - As with any exercise that increases one's pulse, weight lifting causes endorphins (your body's personally prescribed happy pills :) to be released into the body. Endorphins contribute to a positive mood, reducing stress and feelings of depression.
So, if you want to help your body help itself - lift weights 3-4 times a week, focusing on different muscle groups each time. Your organs and joints will thank you for it later. (Note - after the first few sessions, you will feel sore. This is normal, as the muscles are not used to being worked in this manner. Don't quit! It will get easier over time as your muscles begin to get stronger! :)

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Over the Shoulder or Into the Trash?



Hello everyone! Thank you once again for giving me the day off yesterday...it was another long one! This is going to be my busiest weekend in a while and I had to prepare for it.

I'm sure we were all given a lesson on superstition when we were children when it came to spilling salt: If you spill it, you have to toss some over your left shoulder to rectify the problem. Where did this come from you ask? Ever seen the painting of the last supper? In that painting, Judas had knocked the salt over with his arm as he moved into posing position. Since Judas is known as the betrayer of Jesus, spilling salt is linked with betrayal, lies, or evil. According to superstition, the only way to fix the situation is to throw salt over your left shoulder, as that is where the "devil" sits and the salt will cause him to go blind instead of allowing him to take over your thoughts with evil ideas. Click here for more fun facts about superstitions.

There are many different types of salt available for consumption. Salt enhances the taste of meats, baked goods, etc. and keeps food fresh. Its health benefits include balancing the pH level of blood, helps maintain the correct amount of bodily fluids, regulates blood pressure, and helps transmit signals from the nerves to the brain. It is the small amount of potassium and magnesium found in unrefined salts that helps balance the fluids in the body and send the nerve signals back and forth to/from the brain. Click here for more about the advantages of salt for the body. Of course, salt is only beneficial when consumed in accordance with the recommended amount per day: 1 teaspoon of table salt. Yes, ONE teaspoon! That's the small "t" on those measuring spoons. That equals out to about 2,300mg of sodium per day. If you are eating processed foods or eating out at restaurants all day, you are definitely eating more than one teaspoon throughout your day!

On to the bad news...I'm sure most of you have heard that too much salt is bad for the heart (which is true, as it increases blood pressure which over time can lead to strokes, heart failure or disease), but did you know that it's also bad for the kidneys? Who knew that one of the main functions of the kidneys is to balance sodium levels in the body? That is why doctors always say to drink enough water in order to help your kidneys flush out the waste (i.e. extra sodium) and to stay away from soda if you have kidney problems. 

Did you also know that consuming too much sodium can lead to weight gain? Although healthy levels of sodium help balance fluid levels in the body, too much of a good thing is nothing but bad news. Extra sodium in the body causes fluid retention, leading to an increased need of potassium and magnesium which helps break down the fluids. Although potassium and magnesium can be found in unrefined salt, there is not enough in each serving alone to balance out the sodium being consumed. Oddly enough, the solution to this problem is to add more fluid to the body through the consumption of water (in order to flush the extra sodium out) and a decrease in sodium intake.

Lastly, salt (other than kosher salt) contains iodine which began being added in 1995 as the World Health Assembly's way of preventing iodine deficiency disease in animals and humans (Click here for the source of this information). The problem is that most people and/or animals get enough iodine from their diets already, and adding iodized salt to the diet as well leads to over consumption of it. Since most iodine is stored in the thyroid gland, over consumption of it can lead to hormone imbalances (causing weight gain and issues with the immune system).

Tips:
When eating out at a restaurant, one must be careful when ordering seasoned foods, as most of these foods are cooked with sodium and then seasoned again with it after. If eating Mexican food, be aware that Latin-American cuisine is notorious for being over-salted. Also, if you are traveling to Europe, keep in mind that Europeans have a taste preference for salty foods rather than sugary foods (When I went to Italy, it literally felt like my tongue was burning for the first few days due to the increased amount of sodium in the food).

So, the next time you reach for that table salt for a bit of added flavor, think about giving your body a break and add some lemon or lime juice, fresh herbs, diced onions, spices, or balsamic vinaigrette instead. Your body will thank you.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Sweet Substitute May Not be so Sweet After All


Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well today!! Can you believe we are already almost half way through this year? Craziness! It's almost time to start looking for Christmas gifts again...sigh...

Anyway, so yesterday we discussed the benefits and disadvantages of sugar and I promised that today we would be discussing sugar substitutions. Some of you may wonder why anyone would want a substitution, but for those with diabetes, high LDL, high blood sugar levels, wanting to eat clean, wanting to reduce plaque on teeth, wanting to lose weight, etc., sugar substitutes seem to provide more leeway than regular sugar. They can be more dangerous for your health, however, if you choose the wrong ones or use too much of them. Let's do a quick breakdown of these sugar substitutes and the ingredients in them, shall we?

First of all, it's important to note that there are organic sugar substitutes and then there are man-made sugar substitutes. Guess which one is better for you? :) I know, I know...organic stuff is more expensive...but like I always say, spend more on your health now and save the money later when you aren't riddled with disease and can enjoy your retirement. :) Besides, I'm going to let you in on some money saving secrets for organic purchases soon.

Moving on...

Man-made sugar substitutes are generally created by chemically combining ingredients. Those ingredients may have already been chemically altered themselves, leading to dangerous outcomes for the consumer. The following information explains four different types of man-made sweeteners and discusses why they are beneficial or detrimental to your health:

Sweet N'Low

Sweet N'Low (otherwise known as saccharin) has been around for over 130 years. It was heavily used during the first World War due to a sugar shortage and now days it is used for a low-calorie substitution to sugar. Sweet N'Low was once considered a contributor to cancer (and was labeled as such on the packaging), however, those labels have been removed recently and the FDA has approved it as a safe sugar substitution...although their definition of safe and mine seem to be very different. I don't feel comfortable putting something known for bladder cancer into my body, no matter how much it would take to actually get to that point (they say it only occurs with high doses of saccharin). Sweet N'low also contains dextrose (a carbohydrate found in broken down corn - similar to corn syrup), cream of tartar (used as a thickening agent in baked goods or cleaning additive to household cleaners...hmmm...interesting - developed through the crystallization process of wine), and calcium silicate (used in concrete, bricks, insulation, an alternative to asbestos, table salt, oh...and the sugar you just added to your coffee...Mmm Mmm good huh?).


Equal

Equal's main ingredient is aspartame or acesulfame potassium. Aspartame is created through the chemical combining of three items: phenylalanine (known for decreasing serotonin levels and pooling in certain areas of the brain leading to decreased functioning...this is said to be even more dangerous for children, as their brains are developing quickly and using everything eaten as fuel for that development...if they are ingesting chemicals which decrease the function of the brain, they are essentially eating their own way to slower brain functioning later in life); aspartic acid (known as a toxin which causes neurons in the brain to be over-stimulated until they cease to function leading to chemical imbalances in the brain and the body; methanol (turned into formaldehyde by the body as it is digested...formaldehyde...you know...like the stuff they embalm the dead with? It is known for increasing cancer risks, altering DNA, and causing birth defects according to this web site). Sounds great huh? Did you know the average can of soda or juice containing aspartame actually causes the consumer to ingest more than 4 times the recommended limit per day of it?

Splenda

Splenda is one of the most popular zero-calorie-sweeteners, however, since it is created through combining dextrose, resistant maltodextrin (i.e. starch), and it's main ingredient - sucralose (chlorinated sugar), (all calorie-laden ingredients), it does contain calories. The way that marketing companies get away with selling it as a zero-calorie-sweetener is due to the fact that dextrose, resistant maltodextrin, and sucralose are not able to be broken down by the body, thus, they are considered waste by the brain and the body removes as much of them as it can. Click here to see the dangers of sucralose. (I'll tell you now that the link will inform you of shrunken thyroid issues caused by ingestion of sucralose...I know..I'm an ending spoiler!).

Stevia

Stevia is made by highly refining the stevia plant, which is a bush that originally grew naturally in South America, but now grows wherever it is cultivated. Although it has been approved by the FDA for consumption and labeled with (GRAS, generally recognized as safe), some still consider it dangerous as it is a processed sugar substitute refined in a factory with added flavors and sugar alcohol. Stevioside (stevia extract) has been said to cause an increased risk of cancer, an imbalanced metabolism, lowering sperm count, and lowering the ability to conceive or give birth to babies with healthy weights. Click here for warnings about Stevia/Stevioside. Stevia is still considered by most to be the best man-made sugar substitute (as there has not been enough medical information gathered to prove the risks above as confirmed risks), however, it is important to keep in mind that there are organic alternatives to these sugar alternatives that could be better for you without the added worries.

Click here for an awesome link that goes even more into detail about sugar substitutes and sugar alcohols. OR here.



So, what are some organic sugar substitutions that won't give you the added side effects of the man-made sugar substitutes? Try adding some of these to your homemade baked goods, coffee, tea, etc. next time instead of reaching for that sugar substitute packet:

  • Agave nectar
  • Applesauce
  • Honey
  • Erythritol (a FDA approved sugar alcohol)
  • Sucanat (sugar cane)
  • Pureed fruit
  • Vanilla Almond Milk (unsweetened)
  • Rice Milk
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (organic and 100% natural fruit or cocoa flavors are great in homemade baked goods or even just drizzled on top of frozen yogurt/ice cream)

Click here for the most incredible link to an awesome list of 30 organic sugar substitutions!!! 

As with anything else in the kitchen, all sugar substitutions are best used in moderation. Organic sugar substitutes can contain high amounts of calories (so check the label!) and can have their own side-effects on the body, however, organic food is a better choice than chemically-altered man-made alternatives (a.k.a. junk!!!).

Keep it clean people!

Have a great night (or day...depending on your side of the world!) :)
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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

WAKE UP Without the Sugar Boost!


Hey everybody! I hope you are all doing well! Today is Memorial Day - so Happy Memorial Day everyone! Today would normally be a day consumed with grilling steaks, hamburgers, and hot dogs and devouring sugary sweets and side dishes, but since it's raining pouring actually here in Kansas, I doubt much of that will be occurring. This may actually be a good thing concerning our health. :)

Okay, I'm going to put on my best sweet talking voice pun totally intended :), and talk to you about one of the biggest drugs pushed in America (and even the world) today....SUGAR! Yes, I call it a drug - don't you?!? Let's see, it causes cravings and addiction, leads to bad habits/choices, alters the mental state upon consumption or with drawls, leads to poor sleeping habits, leads to diseases brought on by the inner decay of the body (i.e. organs shutting down, chemical imbalance, glucose imbalance - diabetes), and weight gain....sounds like a drug to me.

Did you know that the average American consumes over 150 pounds of sugar a year...that's roughly 3 pounds of sugar PER WEEK!!! WHAT!?!?!?! That's over 14 tablespoons of sugar PER DAY! We are only supposed to be consuming up to 4 tablespoons of sugar per day (and that's natural sugar!). The average sugar intake per year of Americans has increased by 30 pounds since 1970 (and back then it was still crazy high!!!). NOW, tell me why we are so surprised by the obesity rate and high risks of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart problems in this country?! Although this sounds completely directed at Americans, the rest of the world's sugar intake has increased by ridiculous amounts as well (but what else should be expected when pastries are considered breakfast daily and meals consist of high-carb loads with low protein?). Those numbers are just for adults...now think about the children with all those candy and soda machines at school or after school activities (One can of soda contains more than 4 tablespoons of sugar!!!). It used to be thought of as okay (even though it wasn't) to let kids eat tons of sugar because kids are always thought of as more active than adults and the "oh, they'll run it off" phrase was often given as an excuse, but kids now days are much more sedentary with the increase of social media and gaming systems. Everyone is being affected. No excuses...LISTEN UP!

Just because you may not be indulging in sweets every day DOES NOT mean that you are not taking in LOADS of sugar! Almost all processed foods contain sugar...I will repeat that...Almost all processed foods contain sugar!!!!!! Did you get that...it WILL be on the test! The test of life that is... You MUST always check the nutritional labels at the store to know exactly how much sugar you are taking into your body (and even with that...be careful! Check the serving sizes people! Just because you are only holding 1 pack of something in your hand doesn't mean that it only has 1 serving in it...it may contain 30 servings with 12g of sugar PER serving. In other words, if you eat the whole thing, you are eating 360g of sugar in one sitting!!!! AAAH!!!).

*Side note about checking nutritional information on store bought goods: Just because something says it's fat-free does not mean that it actually is and here's why: fat-free labeled items are generally processed with extra sugar added to replace the flavor of the fat that was removed. Extra sugar means extra calories...which leads to what class?!?!? FAT!!! ahahahaha! The cycle continues!). So what's the answer? Check the label...if it says fat free, make sure the sugar content is still low or you are paying extra (for a healthy item) just to get the same thing as the regular item or worse!

Carbohydrates are all sugars, however, the different types of sugars create the three different types of carbs: level one - simple sugar carbs, level two - starch carbs, and level three - fiber carbs. With each level, the number of sugar molecules in the carbs associated with that level number increase (i.e. simple sugars = 1 sugar molecule while fiber = 3 or more sugar molecules). The more sugar molecules there are in one carbohydrate, the longer it takes to break down and the healthier it is for you. Remember our talk about simple vs. complex carbs? See how this ties in?? So...exchange your simple sugars for complex sugars if possible.

Sugar is found in many items that you may not even know about due to the alternative names given to it on nutrition labels. Sugar is labeled in the following ways:

Sugar - Brown, white, cane(duh!)
Dextrose
Lactose
Fructose
Sucrose
Maltose
Glucose
...noticing a pattern here?
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup
Sorghum syrup
Syrup
Molasses
Honey
...another pattern??
Sorbitol
Fruit juice concentrate

So, if you see these words on a nutrition label, BE AWARE...you are eating sugar!

There are clearly benefits and disadvantages to eating the different types of sugars. Too much sugar of any kind will cause high blood sugar levels which has been linked to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, high LDL, obesity, heart problems, etc. As the body fights to create and distribute enough insulin to battle the high levels of sugar being consumed, the pancreas gets overworked and worn out and the insulin is no longer available in the correct amounts (i.e. diabetes). This doesn't mean stop eating sugar entirely...low-blood sugar is just as dangerous for you! The key is eating sugar in moderation and realizing all of the items that it is in so that you can calculate it properly. Click here for more information on the break down of carbohydrates and the benefits/disadvantages of eating sugar or here.

Of course there are sugar-free products, but these can be just as dangerous. Want to know why? Come back tomorrow and find out!

Have a great day! I hope you learned something! :)

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Protein - A Key Ingredient in Body Composition and Overall Health


Hello everyone! Thank you for letting me take the day off from blogging yesterday. I wasn't feeling the best, but I'm all better now after some extra sleep and a lot of water! :)

So, let's get right to it shall we? We've already discussed two of the three main macronutrients that our bodies need to function properly: carbohydrates and fat. The third macronutrient we will be discussing is protein. The photo above is a computer-generated image of amino acids (Looks like gift wrapping ribbon to me...so I guess that means that every time you ingest protein, your body throws a party! - I like it! :). When the protein in our diet is digested, it is broken down into strands of amino acids (22 key amino acids) and then used to build and/or rebuild the tissue in our organs and muscles. Without protein, our bodies would cease to exist.

Our diets are very important when it comes to maintaining healthy amounts of protein within the body, as there are nine amino acids which can only be obtained through the diet. Protein can be found in lean cuts of red meat, the white meat of poultry, fish, nuts and/or seeds(almonds and/or walnuts are great sources of protein), dairy (Greek yogurt has high protein content and low calories/fat), eggs, legumes, protein powder (whey concentrate - cheapest and lowest rated by most in the health industry, whey protein isolate, brown rice protein, rice protein isolate, spirulina, casein, soy - men should limit their soy intake...I'll get into it later), hydrolysate (considered the best of the best by many), egg protein powder, hemp protein), etc.

Omnivores have it easier when it comes to getting enough protein; however, it's not impossible for vegetarians and/or vegans to get enough protein too. They just have to work a little harder at it. This is due to the fact that protein which comes from animal sources is complete protein: it provides all nine amino acids needed by the body at once. Protein from fruits and vegetables, however, is incomplete protein. It must be consumed with another type of protein-rich food in order for the body to obtain all the amino acids it needs (i.e. black beans and lentils would provide all the amino acids together, but not individually).

Getting enough protein is beneficial to the body for obvious reasons concerning muscle and organ growth/maintenance and it is also helpful in promoting weight loss or gain. Ingesting protein with each meal helps the body feel full faster and keeps the feeling long after the meal is completed. This is why protein snack bars have become so popular (but these can be misleading as many are loaded with sugar, simple carbohydrates, bad fats, and chemicals...read the labels people!!!). Eating enough protein helps the body lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (Still noticing the trend?). Click here for more information on protein.

As we get older, our bodies need more protein on a daily basis, with men typically needing more protein than women. Men over the age of 18 with normal diets need to consume around 55-60 grams of protein per day. Women over the age of 18 with normal diets need to consume around 45-50 grams of protein per day. 

If you are trying to lose or gain weight, the basic rule in the health industry is to eat the amount of protein which matches the weight you want to be, with a maximum protein intake of 35% of your daily caloric intake. It is especially beneficial to consume protein within 30 minutes - 2 hours after a workout. Recent studies have proven that those who ingest protein immediately after a workout increase their muscle mass and drop body fat percentages faster than those who don't. Click here to learn more about consuming protein after a workout.

Eating too much protein is dangerous - don't over-do it. Extra protein is considered fat by the body and is stored as such, so always eat it in moderation just like everything else. Click here for more information about proper daily protein intake and here.

Have a great day!!! See you tomorrow!


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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Reasons Why


Greetings everyone! Who is excited to learn the lesson of the day today?! :) Well put your thinking caps on because this one is a doozy...

So, who can tell me what we learned about yesterday? Anyone? Bueller? :) Car....bo....

Yes! Carbohydrates! Can anyone tell me what group carbohydrates fall into? Mac...ro..

Yes again! Macronutrients! The macronutrients group consists of carbs, proteins, and??? (Warning: It's about to get graphic people!).

FAT! That's right! I said it! I said the "F" word on my blog! The horrible "F" word that everyone is afraid to even mention in simple conversation or think of when standing in front of that mirror at the retail store during swimsuit season. (Side note: Do NOT under any circumstances go to Google and type in fat under the image tab....my eyes will never be the same! I mean it! DON'T! Just accept the safe image of good vs. bad door choices above and move on!).

On that note, moving on...

So we know that fat can be bad for us, but what about good fat? Oh you didn't know?!? Yes, there are good fats too and our bodies need them to survive...but how do we know what's what? Isn't fat linked with obesity?

Okay, let's break it down:

Fact: In order for the body to become overweight, one needs to overindulge in all macronutrients (among other things) while maintaining a low level of physical fitness....not just fat! Fat is higher in calories than other macronutrients (containing 9 calories p/gram compared to carbs containing 4 calories p/gram), causing the need for moderation to be higher for it specifically, but it is not a complete enemy.

Still lost? Okay, let's talk about the different types of fat listed on nutritional labels so that we can get a better understanding of all this:

Fats can initially be broken down into two groups: saturated (the bad fats) and unsaturated (the good fats).

Bad Fats:

Saturated fat is linked to many diseases such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (noticing a theme in these diseases during each blog post?).  Animal products and man-made solidified vegetable oils contain saturated fats and, according to the American Heart Association, should only make up 7% of one's daily fat intake at most! Trans fats fall under the saturated fat category as well. They can be found in natural products from animals (which aren't as bad...but are still bad for you overall) and man-made products (liquid oils turned into solids through processing - i.e. partially hydrogenated oil). Trans fats are currently the most dangerous type of fat and should be limited at all costs, as they contribute to high LDL and low HDL (I'll explain these later) - leading to heart disease if not caught in time. Trans fats are typically found in baked goods, fried foods, and packaged/processed snacks.

Good Fats:

Unsaturated fats are linked to lowering the chances of getting heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, and reducing LDL. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats fall under this category. These types of fats are good for (and required by) the body as long as they are eaten in moderation.  Sources of these types of fats include avocados, unsalted nuts (other than peanuts), unsalted seeds, fish oils (Omega-3s), olives, liquid vegetable oils, flaxseed, etc. These fats contain vitamins that are scarce throughout most diets and, due to that fact, you should eat one portion of unsaturated fats a day or 10% of your caloric intake.

Although these are good, fat is fat! Keep in mind that fat is high in calories! For instance, one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil is around 120 calories!!! Just watching cooks on the FNC makes me cringe as I see them pour half the bottle of EVOO into the pan before "searing" (basically pan-frying) fish. :( They quickly turn a healthy meal into a meal FULL of fat and then have the audacity to call it good for you on the menu! (This is why you have to be careful at restaurants too! Do you think that just because the fish is labeled as "low calories" on the menu that it actually is in reality? Who knows how much EVOO or butter...or worse...margarine...they are cooking that fish in back in the kitchen). All information in this article was based off the WebMD web page linked here.

So, hopefully you now have a basic understanding of good vs. bad fats and can make healthier choices at the grocery store or the Farmer's Market. Remember, not all fats are bad, BUT all fats should be eaten in moderation! I know this was a long post, but it was necessary. :) Thanks for sticking it out with me! (If you did the google search mentioned earlier...shame on you! ;-)

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Carbohydrates: Comparing Both Sides of the Equation


Hello again everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful day! My day is getting a bit hectic, but at least I can say that I am blessed with have something to do, right? :)

Over the past few days, I've had to type this sentence on many of my blog posts "(this is the good kind...we'll get into this in a later blog)." Well, this is that later blog.

Today is the day we do a brief overview of simple and complex carbohydrates! Yay! I know you are thrilled!

So...first we have to define it: what is a carbohydrate? Do we even know? We hear about carbs. all the time, but do we actually really know what they are or are we just being sheeple? (ahahaha...I love that word! :)

To put it simply without going into the chemistry of all of it, carbohydrates are the fuel for our daily activities. They provide us with the energy to carry out tasks like exercising, running to the store for healthy snacks, or relaxing during a yoga session. A carbohydrate (a compound derived from food and then turned into glucose) is a macronutrient (a nutrient that the body uses A LOT! - fat, protein, and carbs). The body cannot function properly without carbohydrates because the glucose is necessary for healthy brain and muscle functioning. Click here for more information and the chemical breakdown of carbohydrates.

The key to understanding how carbohydrates affect your diet is to understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. All carbohydrates are essentially sugars (after the body converts the compound). Simple carbohydrates contain less sugars than complex carbohydrates, and therefore, are easier to break down and burn through faster. This is why eating simple carbohydrates leaves you feeling very hungry after a short amount of time. Complex carbohydrates are actually made up from simple carbohydrates, but the amount is greater, thus, the amount of time to break them down takes longer and provides a steadier source of energy. For this reason, simple carbohydrates have been labeled as "bad," while complex carbohydrates have been labeled as "good."

It is important to point out here that not all simple carbohydrates are bad for you. Fruits are part of the simple carbohydrate family, but they are good for you as long as they are eaten in moderation. This is why it is best to eat your fruits in the morning (as they only take about 30 minutes to break down, but give you a good boost of energy to get the day started). Honey and dairy are also part of the simple carbs. group, but they are still very good for the body in moderation.

Simple carbohydrates are typically found in the following foods and should be eaten in very small quantities if necessary at all:

  • White breads, white pastas, white rice
  • Processed foods with added sugar
  • Crackers, potato chips
  • Baked goods
  • Sodas
  • Candies
  • Most fruit juices
  • White sugar
The best types of simple carbohydrates are completely natural, such as fruit, honey, or dairy as stated earlier.

Complex carbohydrates are typically found in the following foods and should be eaten with most meals throughout the day to provide a "full" feeling, give the body the nutrients it needs, and stabilize blood sugar:

  • Whole grain breads, pastas, brown rice
  • Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, corn
  • Certain tropical fruits such as kiwis, bananas, apricots, grapefruits, and plums, pears, prunes, dates, apples, strawberries
  • Beans (legumes)
Click here for even more information on simple and complex carbohydrates!

Eating the right type of carbs on a daily basis will help lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It will also help you manage your weight in a healthy way.

Enjoy the rest of your day and I'll see you back here tomorrow!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Life Source Neglected



Hello everyone! Today we are on day seven of our "Eat the Rainbow" Challenge! How is everyone feeling? If you completed the challenge, congratulations!!! If you keep it up every week, your body will be thanking you and so will your doctor. ;-)

It's easy to make excuses not to do the "Eat the Rainbow" Challenge: "fruits and vegetables are too expensive," "healthy food doesn't taste good," "I take vitamins to get the nutrients my body needs." Well, think of it this way, eating healthy is the simplest way to give your body what it needs and, once you remove the junk from your diet, you will actually be saving money! :) Plus, would you rather eat junk now and have thousands of dollars of medical bills later from type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. brought on by a poor diet, or would it be a better idea overall to spend a little extra at the grocery store now and live a healthy life? Hopefully you choose the latter!

Good news for the day: Farmer's Markets are officially opening across the U.S. Today is the first Wednesday that most FM's are open, since there is now enough produce coming out of the fields to sell it two days a week!! I love Farmer's Markets! Where else can you buy a month's worth of groceries for $20.00? Plus, many FM's even have spices, grains, eggs, and "clean" meats for sale now! Just last week, I bought five live herbs at the FM and they are now sitting in brightly colored pots along my window sill...making a pretty decorative addition to my living room. :) So, get out and help support your local Farmer's Market today if you can and relish in the idea of having fresh fruits and veggies (among other bonus items) for the rest of the month!

Moving on...

Today's challenge was to drink at least 64 oz. of water. Some of you may still be working on that challenge and I applaud you for giving it all you've got! Why is drinking water so difficult for most people, you might ask? Well, it's one of those things you have to do without feeling a need for it. Most people don't remember to drink water because they don't feel their bodies longing for it the way they do with food. A surprising fact is: 1/4 of the time that you feel hungry, your body is actually thirsty. Yes, your body is able to make you feel thirsty by drying out your mouth, but by that time, you are already somewhat dehydrated. There is no signal for your body to say "hey, I'm getting thirsty over here," like there is for hunger. That's why it's your responsibility to ensure that your body is getting enough water. Of course, water intake usually spikes in the summer with the heat baking our skin and reminding us, but you have to remember to drink it during the cool times too (like when you are sitting inside in the safe zone - a.k.a. air conditioning).

Why is drinking water, rather than juice, Gatorade, soda, alcohol, etc., so important? Let me give you just a few reasons out of many. Water:

*This picture was originally shown on the www.globalhearingcenter.com website in 2013.
  • Since the brain is comprised of 90% water, it should be obvious that it is necessary to replenish the water level in our bodies on a daily basis, however, most don't. This is why doctors often tell patients with headaches or migraines to increase their water intake. As a person becomes dehydrated, the water level in their brain drops, and muscle cramps ensue, thus, leading to headaches and/or migraines. In other words, headaches and/or migraines are a symptom of dehydration. It's your bodies way of telling you "HEY, I NEED WATER!"
  • Blood consists of a high level of water as well - over 80%, while muscles contain over 70%, and bones consist of over 20%. If you begin to feel cramping in any area, your body is crying out for assistance! Give it water before it gets to that point and you won't have to deal with the pain! :)Click here for more information about symptoms of dehydration

Need more reasons to drink water?? How about these benefits:

  • Remember the last time you looked in the mirror and started noticing little wrinkles or cellulite building up around your eyes, mouth, neck, hamstrings, buttocks, etc.? Did you wish for an easy trick to make it all less noticeable? Guess what?!? I have the solution! You don't need expensive creams or injections...the answer is: DRINK MORE WATER! Water keeps skin looking young because it keeps the skin hydrated. You can slap on as much lotion as you want, but if you don't take care of the inside of the skin, the outside will continue to be dry and wrinkles will continue to appear. (It should be noted that drinking water will not make a difference when it comes to stopping acne...This rumor was most likely started by people saying "you have acne, drop the soda and drink water." The water won't clear up the acne. It's simply a tool to use to help you avoid the sugar-and-chemical-laden soda which can cause acne. (Don't believe me, do a little research on Dr. Oz's twin study concerning drinking water).
  • Need a solution to help you lose weight? I've got that too! DRINK WATER!!! Water keeps you feeling full when you start getting the munchies and helps you prevent snacking in-between meals. (Of course, little snacks between meals aren't horrible as long as they are healthy and moderate snacks...but let's face it, the vending machine is right around the corner and there is nothing healthy about it!).
  • Trying to build muscle or tone up?? DRINK WATER! By replenishing the water in your blood cells, they are able to move throughout your body longer without depleting and making you feel tired. This enables you to work out longer and build stronger, leaner muscles! :)
  • Joint Pain? DRINK WATER! Just like spraying some WD-40 on squeaky hinges, our "hinges" need lubrication as well, and water is that lubrication! The more you drink, the better those joints will feel!
  • Feeling sluggish? DRINK WATER! Drinking water can help you feel energized and increase the brain's ability to function quickly and properly.  I recently heard on the radio that drinking at least 16oz. of water as soon as you wake up has been linked to increasing the metabolism as well...giving you another boost of energy! :)

Water is soooo important! Click here to find out more about the benefits of drinking water. Keep a glass of water at your desk or in your car to remind yourself to drink it all day long. It's one of the best things you could do for your body! Remember to drink extra on hot days and/or after exercising or getting a massage!!!

Whew! That was a LONG post but SUPER important!

I hope you have a great day!

See you tomorrow!!! :)

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Better Together Than Apart


Hello world! I hope everyone is doing well today!

Yesterday I gave you the challenge to eat at least one cup of beans and/or whole grains. I hope you all met this challenge because, if you did, I'm about to tell you all the ways you helped your body out today!! :) Here we go....

So, did you know that beans and whole grains both struggle with the fact that neither one of them is a complete protein source? (Not saying there is a bean sitting in a therapist's office somewhere trying to cope with it's lacking abilities, just saying it needs a little help from it's buddy - whole grain). So, from this point forward, just think of Mr. Bean (the food, not the actor) and Mr. Whole Grain as best friends. :)

Yes, it's okay to eat beans and whole grains separate, but you won't be doing your body nearly as much good unless you eat them together. They are like soul mates...one completes the other. <3 Aww! In other words, their proteins are complementary, and when eaten together, all of the super important amino acids that our bodies need are provided at one time rather than only getting half at one sitting. Whole grains contain high levels of the amino acid methionine, while beans contain high levels of the amino acid lysine. Both amino acids mentioned here are essential to our bodies and can only be obtained through our diets, so it just makes more since to eat them together! :)

Beans and whole grains provide a multitude of other benefits as well, to include:

  • Fiber - great for the digestive tract; leaves you feeling less hungry after eating smaller meals; balances blood sugar levels

  • Iron - used to create red blood cells

  • Complex Carbs - (these are the good kind of carbs that should be eaten in moderation...I'll be going into these in a later blog)

  • Several other vitamins (i.e. niacin, B vitamins, riboflavin, etc.)

  • Low in fat

  •  Linked to preventing (or lowering the risk of) diabetes (type 2), cancer, and heart disease
Click here for more information on the benefits of whole grains and beans or here or here!

I'm just full of links tonight! :) I hope you enjoyed this brief lesson on the benefits of eating beans and whole grains! I love learning and sharing something new every day about food and fitness and I hope all of you are enjoying this blog as much as I am!!

Tomorrow's challenge is more about what we drink  rather than what we eat:

It's time for the final challenge of "eating our way through the rainbow:" You're in the clear! Clear stage of color that is....Drink Water!!! (drink at least 64 oz....in other words 8 (8 oz) bottles :)

This is one of THE most important challenges yet!!! Come back tomorrow and find out all of the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of drinking enough water! :)
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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.