Healthy Byte: “Can’t”

NOTE: It really is all a matter of perspective

Sitting motionless in my kitchen, staring blankly and hopelessly at my pantry, I felt the onset of an anxiety attack.

As a complete and total omnivore (I truly eat all the foods), it was the first time I didn’t know what I was “allowed” to eat — and I was SO hungry. My doctor had just put me on the low FODMAPs diet, which is in my opinion the most confusing, unnavigable, impossible diet on the planet with conflicting information from so many sources. The list of things you can’t eat seemed infinite . . . no peaches, no wheat, no milk, no fruit juice or avocados or honey (there are quite literally hundreds of items). I focused so much on the “no” list that I had zero idea what to eat. I sat there paralyzed (and honestly, starving, with low blood sugar that probably exacerbated this situation). Panic started to creep in.

This made me realize how much we focus on what we can’t do vs. what we can and how much that word “can’t” paralyzes us in so many ways — especially when it comes to diet and exercise.

Have you felt this way with your food? So much anxiety and unnecessary stress stems from this idea of what we can’t do, can’t have, can’t eat. I have watched friends start their new lives as vegans, feeling their frustration of what they can’t eat without focusing on all the good, delicious foods they love that they can eat. Sure, you can’t eat Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese anymore, but you totally can eat that quinoa veggie bowl you love and also that fruit smoothie and that spaghetti dish. By focusing on what we can eat, we liberate ourselves from a crippling list of can’ts.

This also applies to fitness. For years I told myself (and others), “I can’t do that, I’m not an athlete” or “I can’t do that, I’m not fit” or “I can’t run, I’m slow.” So again, I was paralyzed. It was the opposite of empowering; I did no sort of physical activity for years upon years and never attended a yoga class or went to a gym. The second I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t do and focused on what I could — in this case, it was “I can actually move my body forward for several miles at a slow pace without dying” — I opened myself up to an entire world of healthy activity.

The “I can move my body forward” became “I can run a mile” (albeit a very slow one). That became “I can run three miles,” which eventually became “I can run a half marathon.” I stopped focusing on can’ts in other areas and started small with the things I could do — one thing led to another, and now fitness plays a central role in my life.

I needed a reminder of this the other day when I started the low FODMAPs diet. And honestly, I feel like I need a reminder of this in several areas of my life! When we only see what we can’t do, we miss out on so much of what we can, and it gets in the way of our everyday life — we end up shortchanging ourselves.

Don’t get in your own way, and don’t paralyze yourself with your words. Empower yourself! What can you do? What can you eat? What can you try? Go for it!

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Get Up & Move

The perils of sitting all day aren’t good. Researchers have shown that remaining stationary for extended periods of time (like at your 9-to-5 desk job) can be detrimental to your health. While exercise is a big part of offsetting the harmful effects of sitting, it was unclear how many gym sessions were needed to help — until now.

A new study, published in The Lancet, shows the ideal formula for counteracting the negative effects of a sedentary job. Instead of a fixed number of hours spent exercising, the ratio depends on how much you sit: people who work a typical eight-hour day should spend at least one hour each day moving; if you sit six hours a day, you should spend half an hour exercising. The research also indicated that the exercise doesn’t have to be all at once — or rigorous. It can be spread throughout the day and be as simple as walking.

The team behind the study analyzed data from a pool of a million adults over the age of 45 in Western Europe, the United States, and Australia. Using previous data, the researchers examined data from 16 published studies and used it to determine how much exercise is required to compensate for sitting. Their recommended daily exercise goal is higher than previous advice but not necessarily less attainable, given it can be completed throughout the day.

Fitting in an hour of exercise a day sounds especially daunting if you have a desk job, but there are plenty of workouts you can complete before and after work. Even if it means taking a 10-minute walk during lunch, your body will thank you in the long run.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Menstrual Cycle Fueled Cravings

NOTE: It took me a very long time to figure out why once I month I became completely reckless in my eating. Ever since I noticed the pattern of euphoric binge eating in line with my cycle, I have been able to temper it because I know what it is and have found substitutes to temper the cravings. Sometimes simply being aware is enough.

Image result for food cravings before period

 

Food cravings in the week or two preceding your menstrual period are common for many women, but could be getting in the way of reaching your desired weight or eating in a healthy manner. Whether you crave chocolate, potato chips or baked goods, identifying the cause of your cravings at that time of the month can help you control them so you stick to your healthy diet throughout your menstrual cycle.

Blood Sugar Issues

A fluctuation in blood sugar levels is a common cause of cravings and compulsive overeating, according to licensed nutritionist Darlene Kvist. Willpower is not enough to control your food cravings if the cause is physiological. Eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet and eating fewer processed foods can help you stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent cravings from occurring before your next menstrual period. Trade your usual breakfast of corn flakes, milk, sugar and orange juice for a hearty bowl of steel-cut oats mixed with raspberries and plain yogurt. Base your lunch and dinner on blood-sugar-stabilizing non-starchy vegetables; protein from chicken, fish or nuts; and healthy fats from avocado or olive oil.

Magnesium Deficiency

If you often crave chocolate before your period, you may have a magnesium deficiency, although more hard evidence is still needed to support this theory. Chocolate is one of the richest food sources of magnesium, a hard-to-get mineral many American women are lacking. If chocolate is your most common craving, opt for dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa to keep your sugar intake low. Discuss with your doctor the possibility of taking a magnesium supplement for a few weeks to see if it helps you better control your cravings.

Low Serotonin

Cravings at any time of the month can result from low serotonin levels, according to Julia Ross, a pioneer in the field of nutritional psychotherapy. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter your body produces from certain amino acids to help you feel relaxed. If you are deficient in these amino acids and cannot produce enough serotonin, you may experience strong carbohydrate cravings, which may translate into eating potato chips, French fries, bread, cookies or soft drinks. Although carbohydrates can temporarily elevate your serotonin levels and help you feel better during your pre-menstrual period, eating more carbohydrates to elevate your mood creates a vicious cycle of cravings. Eat foods rich in tryptophan, found mainly in animal protein as well as soy protein, to boost your serotonin.

Healthier Alternatives

If none of these techniques works, your cravings may simply be the result of the normal hormonal fluctuations that occur during your menstrual cycle. Try to find healthier alternatives to satisfy your cravings without getting off track with your diet. For example, try a sugar-free smoothie with fresh fruit and plain yogurt, a few pieces of fruit with nuts or flavorful cheese. Healthy fats from a salad of avocado and tomato drizzled with olive oil or raw vegetables dipped in a homemade mayonnaise or guacamole can also help decrease your cravings.

Originally Posted HERE

Additional Info HERE

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Healthy Byte: Three Steps to Eating Healthier for Life

A happy couple eating in Stockholm, Sweden.Maridav/Shutterstock

Every January, people making resolutions to lose weight are peppered with loads of free dieting advice. Most of it is absolutely terrible, or plain lies. Even worse, many weight loss hucksters over complicate the very simple truths we know about eating for health.

That’s why I love this chart from the Swedish National Food Agency. Its succinct (and still impressively science-based) advice is summed up in this nice graphic:

Sweden’s dietary guidelines summed up in “one minute.”

While American guideline makers are reluctant to urge the public to eat less of anything (lest they offend powerful industry lobby groups), the Swedes are clear about what people really need to cut back on: red and processed meat, salt, and sugar.

Likewise, while fad diet peddlers often suggest people eat a certain “superfood,” avoid some overly specific substance like gluten, or follow a fat-busting workout routine to stay fit, the Swedes keep it real: Just eat more plants and exercise. Instead of suggesting people do the impossible and banish fat from their diets, these Scandinavians are advised to seek out “fabulous fats” in vegetable oils and nuts. (Again, these findings jibe with what researchers have found.)

 “In truth,” the experts at the Swedish food agency write, “most people know perfectly well what they should eat. It’s no secret that vegetables are good for you and sugar isn’t.”
So here’s an idea: Save your money, and tune out the fads you’ll be inundated with this year. Ignore the unreasonable diet plans that time has shown will fail, and forget the punishing workouts. Instead, eat like a Swede.
Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Weight Loss Strategies for the Everyday Folks

Image result for regular people getting healthy

For some reason, people treat changing calendars as an event that marks the beginning of a new lifestyle, usually one that includes a focus on health. Sure enough, the two most popular resolutions are “losing weight” and “staying fit and healthy.” It’s pretty much a given that come January 1, gyms will be slammed and salad bars will be crammed.

But what about the folks who aren’t ready to dive into something extremely demanding, like CrossFit five days a week or a seriously restrictive diet plan? Are there less-challenging, yet still effective ways to lose weight? Absolutely!

 

Nix the sodas and fruit juices
Here’s something to think about: if you currently drink two servings of soda or juice a day, and you simply stopped drinking it right now, opting instead for healthier alternatives like sparkling water or just plain water, you’d easily be able to eliminate 300+ calories from your day and shed almost 1lb a week without any additional exercise.

2016-01-06-1452098034-4041274-weightmain.jpgCredit: Anthony Humphreys/Thrillist

Simplify your coffee
Since coffee contains caffeine, it can stimulate fat burn and weight loss. Unfortunately, coffee loses all of its weight-loss potential when you cram it with unhealthy additives like super-sweet syrups and sugars. End result: a once-healthy black coffee becomes a fattening sugarbomb. So here’s a simple solution for coffee-lovers who also want to lose weight: start taking your coffee black, and if you really can’t stand the bitterness, go for a naturally low-calorie sweetener, like stevia. Bottom line, by going au natural with your coffee, you’ll tighten up your waistline.

2016-01-06-1452098285-8879627-weight2.jpgCredit: Flickr/Jpellgen

Reduce your carbs three days per week
Not all carbs are the devil, but eating a diet high in refined carbs (think white rice, pasta, cereal, bread) can cause elevated blood sugar and insulin. End result: eating a diet high in refined carbs can make you fat and sick— and it can make it harder to lose weight.

 

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Eating Healthy – It’s Not What You Think

NOTE: I’ve found that there’s a lot of misconceptions out there of what eating healthy looks like. Eating healthy in a way that can be maintained for the rest of your life is not about deprivation or writing off entire food groups at a time. Rather it’s trying to find the healthiest alternatives to what you like. At least that is my approach 4 years in weight loss maintenance.

(Photo: Getty Images/ Lauren Ahn)

Want to make your diet the picture of health ? Just follow some simple guidelines, conceived by registered dietitian Isabel Smith, to keep your meals, snacks, and treats (yes, ~*TrEaTs~*!) as healthy as can be:

(Photo: Lauren Ahn)

To make it even easier to clean up your diet, here are some stupid-simple recipes to get you through the day — just pin or screenshot them to reference the next time you’re hungry for…

Breakfast:

 (Photo: Lauren Ahn)

A Snack:

(Photo: Lauren Ahn)

Lunch:

(Photo: Lauren Ahn)

Dinner:

(Photo: Lauren Ahn)

A Treat:

(Photo: Lauren Ahn)

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Turn Fitness Goal to Lifetime of Good Health

NOTE: If you are like me and you simply don’t like to exercise then perhaps finding something that you “love” may be too far of a stretch. Try finding something that you don’t hate and can be consistent with and you may just end up with something you can tolerate for the long term. 🙂

While you’re working on your fitness resolutions, let’s clear up a few misconceptions:

●Your weight will fluctuate, even after hitting that feel-good goal. It happens to everyone, even elite athletes.

●At some point, you will hit a plateau.

●Your running pace will regress after initial gains.

●You will get stuck on a weight-lifting benchmark.

None of this means your work is done and you should quit. In fact, it means the work is just beginning.

Many people who accomplish short-term goals get a rush of achievement in the moment but don’t create the behavioral changes needed to maintain and improve, said Tom Raedeke, a professor of kinesiology at East Carolina University who specializes in exercise psychology. “Somehow, we have to help people go beyond . . . just meeting the New Year’s resolutions or just accomplishing this goal,” Raedeke said.

MAKE YOUR SYSTEM WORK FOR YOU

The main difference between an average adult and a high-level athlete isn’t a lack of talent or willpower but rather a lack of a system.

Sam Zizzi, professor of exercise and sports psychology at West Virginia University, points out that athletes succeed because of the infrastructure created for them: coaches and trainers, set practice times, and a methodical approach to nutrition.

All that’s left for them is to, well, just do it.

The vast majority of adults, however, do not have that in place.

“We’re competing with a wide variety of priorities, and things kind of get lost in the mix,” Zizzi said. Individuals have to either make their fitness goals a top priority and pivot their life to accommodate that goal, or merge a goal with something or someone that already is a top priority.

“There’s not this coherent goal where everyone is on board with you walking 10,000 steps a day,” Zizzi said. “You have to put the structure in place. You have to hold yourself accountable.”

Creating that structure takes accountability and support, something Evan Hakalir is building for himself. Hakalir, a 35-year-old New Yorker, lost 70 pounds in his early 20s and was physically active. During the Great Recession, he lost his real estate equity job and decided to start a new children’s clothing line, Andy & Evan, with his partner.

“With a baby on the way, I felt, ‘Oh my God, this has gotten out of control,’ ” Hakalir said. “So instead of buying the larger suit size, I decided to recommit myself to being fit.”

To keep himself accountable, Hakalir joined Weight Watchers. Wanting to use the in-person weigh-ins (and the embarrassment of a bad weigh-in) as initial motivation, he’s instead found a supportive environment.

“What I actually found were nice, like-minded people of all shapes and sizes who were on this journey. Some were much thinner than I ever was, and some were heavier. They all were on this lifelong struggle of staying healthy and fit,” Hakalir said.

Zizzi said making a plan is key. He encourages his clients to have a Plan A and a Plan B so they are prepared when life intervenes.

Raedeke recommends that individuals focus on planning an activity with details a reporter wants to know: the who, what, when, where and how. Instead of saying, “I want to walk more,” make a plan: “I will walk one mile every Monday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. with my co-worker.”

An action plan shifts the “Why?” from the outcome to the process.

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CULTIVATE CONFIDENCE

Just as in other areas of life, competency is a key marker when it comes to long-term health. “People are very good at their jobs and feel good and competent as a parent, but they don’t feel competent as a healthy person,” Zizzi said. “We invest and take time to do things we are good at.”

With his clients, Raedeke starts by finding out whether they have been successful in making a change in the past. “If you have, what things helped? Then, I know right away I can build on what’s worked for them in the past. It can be something unrelated to diet, but what worked for them may work for diet and exercise,” Raedeke said.

To keep the momentum going, you have to be dedicated to educating yourself (perhaps taking a healthful-cooking class or hiring a personal trainer) and to experimenting.

“Even when I first started out in my journey, I’ve had confidence to try things. I started out with workout videos, and now I have more of an idea about what I can do,” Williams said. “And I had a personal trainer a few years ago, and it was extremely helpful to get me comfortable with the gym.”

When the weight fluctuates or the running pace slows, people often get discouraged and give up or overcompensate in training, which can lead to burnout and injury. Self-sabotage is the pathway to undercutting confidence. Raedeke said individuals start viewing the regression “as a failure and also a reflection of their underlying ability versus it’s just a process.”

Understanding the science and psychology behind fitness regression and plateaus — even understanding that plateauing is a natural component of getting stronger and faster — can save a person a lot of frustration.

Experimentation not only combats boredom but also allows short-term goals to grow into long-term behavior. Williams said her goals evolved from losing weight to being healthier to becoming stronger, an activity Williams said is particularly hard for women.

Women are “fine doing a group fitness class but shy away from lifting weights, and I’ve heard so many say, ‘I want to get into weights, but I don’t know how. I’m too embarrassed.’ That’s frustrating for me,” Williams said.

Image result for regular people workout

DO WHAT YOU LOVE

In 2012, Mike Stollenwerk, a Philadelphia-based chef, made the decision to get healthy.

On a friend’s advice, he took up the martial arts discipline of muay thai. “The first month was hard because you don’t see results right away,” Stollenwerk said. “I couldn’t do a push-up, I couldn’t do a pull-up, I couldn’t jump rope. I was really out of shape. After the first two to three months, I started seeing results. I lost 10 pounds. It was getting exciting.”

In a year, Stollenwerk lost 160 pounds and was going to muay thai five days a week. But life intervened: He was in the process of opening a new restaurant in Philadelphia, which consumed the majority of his time and disrupted his eating schedule of six small meals a day.

Stollenwerk had to cut back on his hobby because it didn’t fit his schedule. As a supplement, he took up hot yoga because it “keeps the chi correct and keeps you feeling good.” It also fit his schedule; he goes to hot yoga at 6 a.m., then goes to work. Now that the restaurant, 26 North, is up and running, he’s looking forward to working more muay thai back into his weekly routine.

A sense of enjoyment is key to staying motivated for the long haul, Raedeke said. “If they can grit through it for a week or two, that’s not a lifestyle change.”

Ultimately, the goal of living healthfully is to find meaning and to embrace, rather than fight, all the peaks and valleys.

“In the process, there’s going to be natural fluctuations, and it’s part of the journey,” Raedeke said. “And the delicate nature is how to help people find meaning in the process of change, not just the outcome.”

Originally Posted HERE

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