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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Sugar and spice and everything nice! Isn’t that what they say girls are made of? I’ve always had the spice, there’s never been doubt about that. I think it came naturally with my hair color; redheads and their tempers, you know… it’s not my fault, it’s my genes. But sugar? I’ve got a whole heck of a lot of sugar coursing through my veins and I’m not sure there’s much nice about that! Having had digestion issues for years, I always knew starch and sugar were issues for me but now I’ve got the concreteness of a blood test. (A few of them, actually! I was sort of wondering if they were going to leave any blood in my arm. They did, fortunately.) Pre-diabetes. The crazy wacko part is that I eat so little sugar by normal standards!! If I ate like the average American I’d be diabetic for sure. Well, OK same with most people, but… In any case, being thin, athletic and careful about my diet, I was sure I had a food intolerance of some kind or bacteria or or or… I was not about to guess that my blood sugar was through the roof. But I’m nipping it in the bud! (About a decade after I started noticing the symptoms, but let’s focus on the positive.) Look at the healthy start to my day! Leftovers from my dinner last night were eeeeven better this morning…

Raw vegan lasagna a la quinoa mixed with healthy stuff. Mmm plenty of energy for my workout and just enough to get me through to lunch. Or at least to the green juice I had just before lunch. Ah lunch… my favorite salad from Peacefood Cafe. Pure angelic goodness.

Well, so it’s not the answer I was hoping for but at least I have a cause for my troubles. Which means I can address them. Finally. Weeding out all the possible culprits is the hardest part. Eating healthier and more regularly, exercising vigilantly, staying hydrated, etc. etc. (oooh yes the list goes on) etc. That’s my game! At least I have the tools and I’m not afraid to use ’em. So, goodbye sugar and starchiness. I don’t think I’ll miss you. It may be a pain sometimes but hey I’ll be the healthiest one in the room!

It goes to show that generalizing is never a good idea. Just because you don’t have all the signs doesn’t mean something isn’t worth investigating. I was on the right track but I and my doctors must have made assumptions that kept us from looking in exactly the right place.

Now I just have a really good reminder to be vigilant about treating my body right. Just to give you a few of the basics, if you are pre-diabetic (or diabetic for that matter), you should… Well, you should seek professional help but in addition to that: Exercise regularly. Stay the heck away from sugar and it’s cronies. Yes that includes alcohol, but paired with the proper meal you don’t need to worry too much about having some now and then. Says me. No processed food, yuck. Lots of fiber. Stay hydrated. Eat regularly. You don’t want your blood sugar (and it’s co-worker insulin) levels all over the place, nor do the people hanging out with you.

Dinner hasn’t happened yet so you will have to imagine what my final meal of the day looks like. I think you’ll be OK. Oh! But I do have one final goodie for you. I was craving something along the lines of macaroni and cheese and I had nothing resembling pasta. I had some leftover wheat berries in the fridge and some raw cheese, though. That’s it. Stuck it in a pan to warm it up with a little bit of cheese and… voila! Craving satiated!

Of course I’m not trying to say this was just like eating the most decadent version of macaroni and cheese, but it definitely did it for me. There are countless simple ways to make comfort food so much healthier for you. Any other favorites?

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Bored of Water?

It’s soooo dark out! I’m very glad I got my run in the park done earlier this morning. It’s dark, it’s wet, it’s cold. Come to think of it, when have I ever regretted getting my run out of the way early in the day? Never? Hmm yes I think that’s right. Just a little hint.

So how much water are you drinking these days? I notice that when it gets colder, it’s less automatic for me. I have to think about it. And I do think about, and do it, it because it’s important. I know some people have trouble drinking enough H2O because they get bored of it. But there are so many ways to spice it up a little! I keep my fridge stocked with a good selection of healthy drinks.

OK so maybe there’s a little beer and champagne in the back too, but let’s focus. First of all, there’s plain ol’ flat water. I happen to love it (filtered by my Brita, of course) but many people find it boring. What about adding a little sparkle? How about iced tea? There is an endless variety of different flavors, how can that be boring? Just make sure you stick to herbal. Drinking caffeine just depletes your body of water, kind of the opposite of what we’re looking to do here. A couple of my favorites of the moment are  Choice Peppermint Herb and Tazo’s citrus-y Zen green tea as well as their Passion herbal blend. No need to add any sweetener, they are delicious as is. I keep containers of each in the fridge for easy access. You can drink pretty much any tea hot or cold, so you can change things up a little right there. And what about adding fruit to your water?

Slice up a tangerine and stick it in your glass. Or lime or lemon. Add berries. Works with both still and sparkling, of course. Sometimes a mug of hot water with a little lemon makes me feel fantastic. You can also buy drinks that are already flavored, but you have to be very careful. Not only is it a lot more expensive – and unnecessarily so, since you can just add your own flavors since you don’t want synthetic ones anyway – but most of them tend to be anything but natural. If you can find flavored waters that don’t have a list of ingredients you don’t recognize, they may be alright. But look at fruit juice for example, even when you find one with nothing but the fruit juice itself, it’s FULL of sugar. It’s best to stick to the basics. One drink that’s popping up everywhere that does make a good substitute is coconut water. Delicious!

So get your drink on! Do you have other ideas? What do you do to make sure you stay well-hydrated?

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Such a productive day! But, well, who wouldn’t be when hopped on enough caffeine to make a horse jittery? Particularly someone who doesn’t ever drink such evil things. I had time between appointments today and I was nowhere near home, so I sat at Starbuck’s and got a little work done in the mean time. (Thank you WiFi!) Not only did I order decaf, but I re-confirmed with the #@$! guy who made it when he handed it to me. “Yeah, it’s totally decaf. I know I didn’t say that when I called it out and that’s because I forgot to make it decaf but I’m going to tell you that it’s decaf anyway.” Seriously. You can get away with it the other way around. Maybe. But you can’t give someone (like me) caffeinated coffee and tell them it’s not and think they are not going to notice!

Today I met with a classmate I had never met before over lunch at Chopt. I had a fantastic salad full of veggies and nuts and, well, anything that would fit. On the downside, that place is so chaotic I think it might have risen my blood pressure enough to counteract the healthy benefits of said salad. I tried to capture this on film but… this does NOT come close.

Looks downright relaxing. Because you can’t see that people are stepping on each other to get to each station and you can’t see the people in the huge line just inside the door. Seriously, though… I think Chopt is a great, healthy option, provided you make wise decisions. A salad is not healthy just for the sake of being a salad. If you stick fried onions (yes, it’s on the menu) in there, that might not be keeping things light. Or heavy dressing. You get my drift.

The lunch was great. I met a fantastic new friend and potentially a new business partner if our plans come to fruition! Next on the list (after “the place that shall not be named“) was the Continuum  Center for Health and Healing. Look at the hip entrance:

Great experience! I am thinking of switching here from my mainstream primary care physician. She is great but this place is my kind of place. My mentors, people who have taught me at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, my inspirations if you will, whatever you want to call them – the likes of Andrew Weill, Mark Hyman – are the same mentors my doctor shares. It was great to be on the same page with the testing he wanted to do. No drugs were prescribed. We talked about herbal remedies, relaxation, nutrition AND more traditional treatment plans. They do it all and I love being in the hands of someone who wants to look at things holistically. I would (do!) recommend this place!

Time for bed. I’ve made my chia seeds for the morning. I haven’t had them for a while, but my new favorite cookbook inspired me.

Who knew something so UNdelicious-looking could be so tasty. I mean obviously, by the hideous looks of them, they’re healthy. (They really are.) But they are so good too. Try them! Mix them with some milk (I used almond), a TINY bit of agave and an even smaller amount of vanilla, add a little raw cacao – because who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast!?

Make them tonight so they are ready in the morning… and then get to sleep!

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Good God it feels good to be back!! My elimination diet made me feel FANTASTIC, but exercise was an unfortunate casualty for the last week and a half. I won’t get in to why…

So I decided to go for a run in Central Park this evening. I didn’t bring any music because I figured I would brainstorm for my next blog post. I wrote the entire thing, my brain was on fire! Well, “wrote” in my head, of course. Oh the witty comments! And the brilliant content, wow! Where did it go now that I’m sitting at the computer??

Anyway… It’s not entirely well-lit, so I stuck with the small (more populated) loop and just did an extra lap. That reminds me, there are a couple of drawbacks to night running. The pros absolutely outweigh them, though. For one thing, there was a good couple minutes where I actually had no idea where in the park I was! I suppose that may have just been because I was on auto-pilot while “writing” this blog, who knows. But the other unfortunate thing that was definitely due to poor lighting was the several minutes I spent wondering why the smell of horse poop seemed to follow me, no matter where I went. Hmph. Well I’ve probably put more than enough miles on these shoes anyway…

Note: in the interest of making this blog more visually appealing I wanted to try to add more photos, but I can barely take a decent photo while standing still (actually, not really) so there was certainly no hope for me taking my own photo while on the run! Alas, I must give credit where credit is due.

I am so glad I did it!! I highly encourage running at night – provided you can do it safely. It is such an easy way to add variety to your workouts! You can do the same run you usually do and yet it feels different. Varying the direction and even location of your workouts is a great idea too. In fact, given how much I go on and on about variety and its benefits I almost want to make that the theme of this entire blog. Really, when is variety not a good thing? With nutrition, it helps you get all the nutrients you need from all sorts of different (healthy) foods. When it comes to exercise, you will most definitely see better results if you change up your routine! Swim one day, bike the next, run the next, try a new class the next… you get the idea. You want to challenge your body and work different muscles, right? With travel… who wants to go to the same place all the time? No, you want to explore the world! And on goes the list. OK I guess I can think of one area where my husband might discourage variety, but… if you really think about it, you want to try all sorts of different people out before you settle in to something permanent! See?? It still applies!

So that’s my message for you today. And now on to my healthy, easy and hopefully delicious dinner idea. Asian-inspired chicken and veggies over soba. Only without the soba, ha! Quinoa was a tasty stand-in luckily, as that’s what we had in the cupboard. A side plate of roasted Japanese sweet potatoes made for a DE-LISH addition.

How easy is this? 1. I chopped up some cucumber, red bell pepper, green onion, poached chicken and cashews. 2. Mixed up a pinch of this and a pinch of that with no measuring equipment at all whatsoever. Sesame oil, tamari, chili garlic sauce, fresh ginger and… nothing, that’s it! 3. Finally I mixed it all up and threw it over the quinoa.

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Sometimes it seems impossible to work out. You know how good it will feel afterwards but you just can’t get yourself to do it. Maybe you need a break! Had plenty rest days already? Well then maybe one of these motivation tips will help you:

1. Set detailed goals. Write out ahead of time a list of daily and weekly goals.

2. Tell yourself you just have to go to the gym and get on a machine for five minutes. Or fifteen. Or whatever it may be. Chances are you will not quit before doing more than that. Maybe get on the treadmill and start out just walking. Or start with sit-ups.
3. Plan your visit to the gym around your favorite TV shows.You can watch TV while you work out and the time will go by so much faster. Make sure it’s not too funny, you don’t want to fall off the treadmill. Watch Biggest Loser – if they can work out ‘til they puke, you can at least work out!
4. Try something new! Try a class you’ve never tried before! Do an activity that you don’t usually do. Maybe try a new workout DVD at home.
5. Make a great iPod song list. Change it often so you are always excited to listen to it. Right now I love listening to P!nk, Madonna’s Hard Candy album, and anything JT or MJ gets me revved up!
6. Train for something. Sign up for a 10K or marathon or triathlon!
7. Be accountable to someone. Work out with a friend – tell each other about your daily workouts or schedule workout dates together. At those tough times it is really nice to have someone you can call that will motivate you, even if they are not a workout buddy. You can also publicly log your exercise at places like www.strands.com. You can follow other runners and they can follow you – how lame will it be if people are following you and you never do any workouts! Hey, you can even make a bet! Set the stakes, sign up for www.stickk.comand make it official!
8. Give yourself a reward afterwards. Give yourself motivation by telling yourself you can get a massage if you work out. And think how much better that massage will feel! But do make it a non-food reward.
9. Sometimes you just need to have that food splurge. Fine. Once in a while, and if it gets you moving, maybe it’s worth it to tell yourself if you get out there and work your butt off, you can have that treat. Hey, if it gets you in the routine of working out… Just make sure it’s REAL FOOD.
10.Think how much energy you will have! I know it sounds corny, but visualize yourself after the workout. You know how good it feels. You know how much energy you always have afterwards. Talk about a reward!
11.Look at magazines for motivation. OK so the pictures may not be realistic, attainable goals of real people, but they do motivate you!
12.Write about it! Lots of people are blogging these days. It turns the exercise in to a fun project. You get to share it with all sorts of people and even get feedback if you want it. Also you can look back and see what you’ve done!
13.Look at what someone else has written. Check out another bloggers’ web site and get inspired! When you see all the workouts they are doing and see the photos of how great they feel and how much energy they have, you will want to do it too!
14.Feel like you don’t see your family enough as it is?Involve your kids – exercise with them!
15.Just do it! It may be difficult to motivate at first but it WILL get easier. The first week or so you may have to just suck it up and get out there. Ignore your inner excuse-maker!

See how far you’ve gone!

You might find some new exercises to try here:

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Need a Boost?

Are your energy reserves running on empty? You would not be alone! Lack of energy is way too common these days. Especially with the hectic pace we try to keep up in today’s world. There just aren’t enough hours in the day anymore, are there? I know, I hear myself say it ALL. THE. TIME.

Are you getting enough sleep? That, of course, is central to just about everything the body needs to do. You have to have time to relax and repair yourself from the inside out. It’s not just about the quantity but also the quality. You need deep, uninterrupted Z’s. No waking up because you have to use the restroom, you should have finished your water intake well in advance of bedtime. And hopefully you finished eating with time to spare as well – your body has enough to do to fix you up, it doesn’t need to add digesting a mountain of food to this list. If you have problems getting the rest you need, let me know. The arsenal of tips to combat this are too many to list here.

Get moving! What, too tired to exercise? Maybe that’s because you don’t exercise! You may need to start slowly and ease your way in, but the best way to build up stores of energy is to build up your strength – that’s your muscles and your cardiovascular stamina as well.

Are you getting a variety of whole, organic foods?** Without variety you cannot get all the nutrients your body needs. And even then, given that the quality of foods available to us isn’t always top notch, you still may need a supplement. Are you getting enough iron? Vitamin B? Antioxidants? (Tip: eat a rainbow of bright-colored fruits and veggies!) Are you eating enough, period? You need a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and fat (the good kinds, that is) to fuel your daily routine.

On that note, are you eating a lot of sugar? Processed food, i.e. high fructose corn sugar? Drinking diet or regular soda? Too much alcohol? Coffee? Off-kilter hormones are another common culprit for low energy. You know how it goes… you eat some candy and you get some energy and then next thing you know, you have less than you started with! Caffeine has a similar effect. And the more you get, the more you need to get the same effect, until before you know it you can’t even get that quick burst of energy anymore.

Life is frenzied so make sure you have an outlet for stress. Did I mention that exercise is a good option?

If you feel you have an issue, consult your doctor. Lack of energy can be caused by any one of the reasons I mentioned. It can also be symptomatic of something more serious – anemia, thyroid issues, depression, etc.

**P.S. it’s not enough to just eat all the right foods, you have to absorb them properly. So make sure your digestive system is working properly so you get the benefits!

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Ah food cravings… why can’t they ever be for things like steamed kale or raw broccoli spears? No no. Of course, the most common craving known to man – actually it seems to be more often woman, no fair! – is for something sweet.  I suppose there are evolutionary reasons behind it but that hardly helps us now, does it. Well, the good news is there are plenty of current, easily explained reasons for it now too. This is especially good news because it means there are ways to manage these cravings and use them to our benefit rather than let them be our downfall. With a little practice it’s not even that difficult! If I can get over my cravings for sweets, trust me, anyone can.

The truth is that cravings really are – no, really – our friend. They do happen for a reason, our bodies are trying to tell us something! We just need to figure out what that message is. If you just ate something salty, your body may be trying to compensate with something sweet to balance itself out. Heck, maybe you just ate something sweet – sugar is addictive so having some doesn’t help much in alleviating the craving, it just makes you want more! You could be craving nutrients that you aren’t getting or your hormones could be out of whack. Have you ever tried drinking water when you crave sweets – maybe you are just thirsty. Maybe it’s not even biology-related, perhaps you are just bored! Sometimes we crave that immediate satisfaction that we know we are going to get from that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth cupcake. And sometimes it’s a much bigger issue, something we are missing in our lives on a deeper level. All of these are things we can deal with!

The biggest problem today is that what was once sweet is no longer so sweet. Our ancestors may have had sweet cravings, but I think we can be pretty sure they were not looking for Jelly Bellies or Coke. They found sweetness in fruits and vegetables, even grains. Well, we can too! It’s just a matter of adjusting how we eat. Try adding more fruits and sweet vegetables to your diet. OK, sometimes you just really want a tasty dessert, try using a replacement for sugar like raw honey or agave nectar. (Try the recipes below!) Are you just bored? Try doing something else that will bring you pleasure without taking in calories! There are tons of strategies for overcoming that overwhelming desire for candies, cookies and other desserts. It really is worth it for your health. Despite their bad name, there is increasing evidence that sugar may be more of a culprit than dietary cholesterol and fat when it comes to cardiovascular disease. You only get one body, take care of it!

Gluten Free Coconut Macaroons

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ cup agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1. In a mixing bowl whisk egg whites and salt until stiff
2. Fold in agave, vanilla and coconut
3. Drop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet, one rounded tablespoonful at a time
4. Pinch each macaroon at the top (like a kiss)
5. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned

Raw Brownie Bites

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup flax seeds or flax seed meal
2 T coconut oil
1 small pinch of vanilla extract
1 small pinch of Himalayan sea salt
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Place all ingredients in food processor until combined, roll into balls and refrigerate or freeze for storage. Serve cold from the fridge.

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