Blog Wrap-Up

Hi guys, first I’d like to thank you all for following me on my journey. I’ve learned a lot about health, diet and fitness along with creating a healthy mental and emotional environment to support my lifestyle changes. I’ve made a short video recap of what I’ve learned during the last 6 months. Hope you enjoyed this little adventure as much as I did. Thanks again and enjoy!

 

Making Your New Life Stick

Time and time again we see the effects of being a yo-yo dieter. You work hard to lose weight then you reward yourself by eating what you cut out of your diet and then you gain back your weight that you just lost. What should be done instead, is you should concentrate on making a lifestyle change that doesn’t have a deadline. Making healthy decisions regarding your diet should be a lifelong endeavour, not a crash diet. Aren’t we making changes to feel better about ourselves and to elongate that feeling throughout our lives. I’ve never heard anyone say, “When I’m 45, I’m going to start eating junk food and stop exercising because I deserve to be miserable”. We need to stick to making healthy decisions and say goodbye to the old bad habits, they weren’t serving you anyway.

Here are my suggestions to help make your new life stick:

  • Visit and revisit your goals, this was your initial motivation to make this change and can help keep you on track
  •  Think back to when you felt yucky, bloated, fat and unhappy. You don’t want to go back there, do you?
  • Ask for help and encouragement. Your friends and family are part of your support system throughout your journey, just because you’ve reached your goal doesn’t mean that they aren’t there to still support you.
  • Reward yourself often, and do it in a constructive way, “don’t reward yourself with food, you’re not a dog”
  • Share your success strategies with other people. Seeing the change in someone else is empowering, and another way to keep yourself in check.
  • Remember, you’re not perfect and making mistakes is inevitable. Pick up the pieces and move on
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people that won’t make you feel left out if you don’t gorge yourself on pizza and beer.
  • Love your new you, and appreciate where you came from. You had to start somewhere, and you should be proud of the journey

I hope to come up with some more helpful hints on how to sustain your lifestyle changes, but this small list should be good enough for now. What do you do to keep yourself aligned after making a change? Leave me a comment below letting me know 🙂

 

 

Spaghetti Squash and The Secret Sauce

Hi again, I’ve been pretty under the weather over the last few weeks with being sick and breaking a finger playing softball, so I was in desperate need of cheering up. I have a fool-proof way to snap me out of any funk, and that’s by whipping up a pot of spaghetti sauce. I’ve taken an old family recipe and spruced it up a bit, making the basic tomato sauce lively and hearty. My Nana would probably kill me if she knew what I did to her recipe, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her 😉 So a pot of secret sauce is simmering away upstairs, and the “spaghetti” is soaking up the flavors of olive oil and spices. I’ve made a video for you to enjoy on how to prep spaghetti squash as a substitute for regular spaghetti. Hope you enjoy the video, please leave a comment below with any questions or amount of money you’d be willing to pay for the secret recipe 😉

 

Plyometrics How To Video Blog #2

Hi guys, I’m back again talking about and showing off my plyometric skills!

Here are the exercises that I cover in my video:

  • Squats, including regular, weighted and jump squats
  • My beloved burpies!!!
  • Tricep curls
  • Alpine Skiers
  • UCLA’s/Suicides

All of the exercises above require little to no equipment and can be done in your bedroom, or a hotel room if you’re traveling. A 45 minute workout consisting of plyometric exercises will leave you sore and dripping with sweat. So have fun, try out some of these exercises between your regular workouts or morning runs. You’ll often see me stop and do 10 push-ups or squats while running around the marina, just to break up the run and make it a little more interesting.

Watch the video below and if you have any favorite plyometric exercises post them below!!!

 

 

Paleo Friendly Sangria

I decided to make a summer treat and happened upon the perfect recipe from my friends over at Women’s Health Magazine. They were collecting cocktail recipes that were more diet friendly, and their Sangria recipe was so good I had to try it for myself. I made a little video of the steps, ingredients and preparation of the sangria. Don’t worry, I’m writing this sober since it has to percolate in the fridge overnight, waa waa 😦

Anywho, here’s the recipe straight from the source at Women’s Health Magazine

The Healthiest Summer Sangria EVER
Serves 10

1.5 bottles red wine
1/4 cup triple sec
2 cups sparkling lemon/lime/orange-flavored water (make sure the brand you choose has no added sugar)
1 pear diced
1 cup fresh strawberries, diced
2 oranges diced or sliced (not peeled)
1 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup orange juice

1. Combine everything (except the sparkling water) in a large pitcher, and store in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
2. Before serving, add the sparkling water to the pitcher, stir completely, and serve!

My added advice, make sure your pitcher is big enough! Kinda a no brainer, but I even messed this one up as you’ll see in the video.

Here’s the video, thanks for watching! Leave me a comment below with your thoughts or suggestions as to where I can buy a bigger pitcher 😉

 

Some Tricks To Help You Stay On Track During Summer

Let’s face it, summer means long days and warm nights, perfect for get togethers and BBQ’s with friends and family. So what do you do when you’re faced with the option to stick to your diet or splurge and eat a bowl of artichoke dip and half a loaf of french bread? Don’t worry friends, I’ve come up with a plan of attack to make the decision to stick to your diet guns easy.

  • Step 1: Make sure you bring something to the pot-luck or BBQ that is delicious and diet friendly. This serves 2 purposes, first if all else fails you can simply eat your dish and not feel bad about your food choices, and second by providing a healthy dish you are exposing your friends and family to delicious healthy food which could spark their own transformation.
  • Step 2: Steer clear of the chips and dips! Holy calories batman, and empty ones at that! Opt for homemade salsa and guacamole or hummus with veggies if you must. Be careful with portion sizes, these types of foods encourage grazing, before you know it you’re scraping the bottom of the bowl of red pepper hummus and just consumed 500 calories.
  • Step 3: The grill is your BFF, and here’s why. Grilling lean meats and vegetables is one of the healthiest ways to prepare food since there is little oil needed. On that note it’s probably a good idea to pass on the Sweet Baby Rays drenched ribs, and the cheddar jalapeno stuffed bacon wrapped cheeseburger. Still make healthy choices, stick with chicken, fish, veggie kabobs, lean beef etc…
  • Step 4: Mind your manners at the bar. This is a slippery diet slope to be on. Of course you want to enjoy a few drinks with your friends on a hot summers’ night, but again this is a quick way to rack up empty calories. Also alcohol has a way of slowing down digestion making it very hard for your body to absorb nutrients from food. I’m not saying don’t drink, just be mindful of the 150 calories per beer or glass of wine. There’s a neat website called, Rethinking Drinking, that shows calories per drink and type.
  • Step 5: Enjoy strawberries as dessert instead of strawberry shortcake, have a slice of watermelon or cantaloupe to quell sugar cravings. Tis the season for fresh fruit, so take advantage of it.
  • Step 6: Host the party! This lets you dictate a large portion of the menu, and when people ask what they can bring you can give them suggestions that align with the rest of the diet-friendly cuisine.
  • Step 7: Try out some new recipes, or better yet try some old recipes with a paleo twist like this Paleo Potato Salad. Prepare for your friends to be impressed at your culinary prowess.
  • Step 8: Go bunless, this seems like a no brainer, ditch the empty carbs.

So there you have it, I think it’s a pretty solid game plan for sticking to your diet when you’re around lots of yummy food. Heck you might even convince a few people to change their eating habits.

Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll be sharing with you some of my favorite paleo recipes!

Prepping Your Pantry For Success

You all know how much I love getting rid of things, but for some reason I’ve had a hard time ridding my pantry of non-essentials. Why am I so emotionally connected to the $3.89 jumbo sized tub of Crisco that’s been in my baking cupboard since I moved in in 2007? Why can’t I simply toss out the 4 packages of cornstarch, or the Frosted Flakes? I think it stems from a small problem I have with food possession, fair warning that if you ever go out to eat with me, never under any circumstance take a bite of my food without asking, and even if you do ask there’s a pretty good chance I’ll stab you in the back of the hand with my fork. Yikes, someone should send me to food rehab 😉 So there it is, my dirty, food-hoarding confession. Now I see that I have a problem, and maybe you do too, so I’ve set out to conquer my problem with a simple checklist that will get your pantry in tip-top shape in no time making it easier to make better food choices.

  • Take a deep breath, and a before picture this isn’t for the faint of heart
  • Throw away anything that is expired (no-brainer)
  • Throw away anything you haven’t used in the last 6 months, I realize that I make seasonal meals that require special ingredients so these can stay just as long as they won’t expire before you use them again
  • Throw away anything that has an inch of dust on it or a faded label or just looks funky

Clean pantry also means clean diet, so we’re going to be getting rid of a few more things

  • Wheat flour, white flour, rice flour etc…
  • Sugar, granulated, powdered, brown
  • Sugar substitutes like splenda, sweet and low anything chemical-based
  • Powdered or condensed milk
  • That 7 year old tub of Crisco (boo hoo)
  • Sugary drink mixes
  • Get rid of the spices in your cabinet that are expired or not fresh or loaded with MSG
  • And lastly, give your Ghirardelli chocolate chips to your mom since it would be a sin to throw them away

Now comes the time to go shopping to replenish your pantry with the good stuff!

  • Buy almond, coconut, or other nut flours to replace the traditional flours
  • Agave, maple syrup, and honey are pretty good natural sweeteners, stevia is also good too
  • Buy organic coconut oil, and a good olive oil. Also many baking recipes use applesauce as an oil replacement
  • Buy green tea
  • Buy some really good organic dark chocolate and find a good paleo chocolate chip cookie recipe like this one here.

Active.com also has some helpful tips on spring cleaning your pantry.

The bottom line is that having an unhealthy attachment to something even as silly as a tub of crisco is still unhealthy. The best thing to do is to ask yourself, “do I need this?”, “is it serving it’s purpose?”, “is there something better?”. The less clutter you have in your life the easier it will be to live your life happily. Downsizing doesn’t mean you’ve lost, it means that you are smarter for not allowing your brain to be consumed with clutter.

What do you do to declutter your life? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Should You Supplement? Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of the supplement debate. This post will investigate the myths and fears of supplementation, as well as how to choose the right supplements and what to stay away from when shopping for supplements.

There are a few fears surrounding supplementation, some are serious and need to be listened to, while others are just silly. The biggest fear and medically proven problem with supplements is that they can interfere with other medicines that someone is taking. Like I said before, I’m not a doctor, and this is a very serious concern, so before starting any supplementation regimen consult your healthcare provider. Some well known interactions include:  B12 interacting with many things including aspirin, oral contraception, alzheimer’s drugs etc…People taking antibiotics should not be taking an Iron supplement or many other things. There is a great website that helps check drug and supplement interactions. You can visit it here. Another concern with supplements is that they haven’t gone through enough pharmaceutical testing to be considered safe. The FDA doesn’t have as strict of a set of rules and testing requirements that it does for pharmaceuticals. The FDA treats dietary supplements as more of a food product rather than a drug, since the supplements aren’t claiming to “cure cancer, or depression”. Should there be more regulation for supplements? I tend to think that the FDA is evil and doesn’t do a very good job of protecting people, but that’s a discussion for another time. Another myth is that supplements cure disease, obesity, or other ailments. Unfortunately, there is not enough empirical evidence to support these claims, so supplement manufactures have had to revise their efficacy claims on their products, thus they can continue to be regulated as a food product and not a pharmaceutical. According to an article posted in 2013, there are virtually no barriers to anyone wanting to produce supplements and sell them to the United States. There have been famous issues with supplements, mainly weight loss supplements (remember my warning from part 1), like ephedra from the early 2000’s and another weight loss supplement taken in Hawaii that caused severe liver damage to 30 people. People assume that since supplements aren’t “drugs” that they are safe and can be endlessly taken. This is a bad idea and even worse practice.

Moving on to how to choose the right supplements. First keep that dialogue open with your healthcare provider. They probably have some good advice for what to do and not do. Plus, they will know your medical history and prescription drug history. They can also suggest what brands are great, and which are junk. Remember to read your labels and opt for supplements without a lot of extra filler, it’s just going to be stuff that you’ll have to worry about interacting with your other medications. Also more expensive is not better! Read trusted product reviews to prevent potential side effects that make you want to throw your $40 miracle powder down the drain. Also, give it enough time to be effective! You may not see results right away, but it may need to build up in your system just like some allergy or acid reflux medicines.

Keep away from “cure alls”, added sugars or artificial additives or fillers. Cheap or generic supplements should probably be used under a high level of scrutiny, so it’s best to do your research before buying. Also be careful when going into a place like The Vitamin Shoppe, Complete Nutrition and GNC. While they probably have more training than the staff at WalMart, they are a retail store trying to sell you something. Bottom line don’t be a sucker for a grand claim to change your life!

So supplements should be carefully considered just like everything else we put in our bodies. Do your research, make sure you are doing things in line with your overall health goals, and don’t take shortcuts. What do you have to add about the topic of supplements? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Should You Supplement? Part 1

One of the defining principles of the Paleo lifestyle is that we should change our diets to include adequate amounts of all essential nutrients directly from our food sources. While the idea that we can provide our body with perfect nutrition is a fine and dandy, I think that there may be room for additional nutritional supplementation, and they shouldn’t just be written off.  Hopefully in this post I can share some insight as to why you might want to include some supplements in your regular diet, and in my follow-up post I will be sharing some myths about nutritional supplements and what to stay away from when choosing your supplements.

Lets start with why you may want to include in your diet vitamins and mineral, protein, energy, and weight loss supplements. Not all bodies are the same, and in the beginning of a transformation (aka weight loss) the body is likely going through a cleansing stage, and may not be receptive to nutrients in food passing through the system. Also, there may be damage done to the digestive tract making it difficult for nutrients to be absorbed at all. This is where vitamin injections can be helpful in providing your body with what it needs. Of course consult your doc before doing any of this, I don’t even pretend to be as knowledgeable about this sort of stuff as they are. Another good reason to increase your vitamin and mineral intake during weight loss is that during this initial stage your body may go into survival mode, and become immunosuppressed, making you more susceptible to illness. Remember my post about Being Healthy Sometimes Makes you Sick? Well, there’s another reason to get a good dose of vitamins early on. The germy gym is also a good place to pick up a bug, and preloading your body with immune boosting vitamins isn’t going to hurt anything.

Protein supplementation is also important early on. As you transition from consuming mostly carbohydrates to mostly protein and vegetables, you will feel hungry, even HANGRY all the time. Most of our brains and bodies have gotten used to having an easy source of sugar in carbohydrates, and since protein breaks down more slowly and without causing a rush and crash of glucose, we have the false sense of feeling hungry. A great way to alleviate the hunger pangs are to supplement with a protein shake, my favorite product being Muscle Egg. It has no sugar and very low carbohydrates compared to other protein products.

Energy supplementation can be a slippery slope, so just be conscious of your sources of that extra kick. It’s safe to say that green tea is a good option, followed by black tea. Coffee is not allowed on the Paleo diet, but there is more and more medical research supporting the consumption of coffee as part of your daily diet. It’s probably a good idea to stay away from anything that has added sugar, or ingredients you can’t pronounce. Energy drinks, even sugar-free are not the best. A good source of energy boosts is a big glass of ice water with lemon, or vitamin B12.

Finally, weight loss supplements should be evaluated very carefully with a nutritionist or other medical professional. I fear that most products claiming to be a miracle weight-loss supplement are a hoax, and are trying to make a quick buck off anyone they can. Bottom line, don’t believe everything you hear on TV! So make sure to do your homework before buying or taking any supplements, and make sure they come from a trusted and tested source.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post where I share myths, fears, and what to stay away from when choosing your supplements.

How Your Cravings Are Telling You What You May Be Missing In Your Diet

I’ve recently stumbled upon some nutritional research that suggests that cravings for sugar, salt, fat and otherwise junk food may be more than just wanting to eat a box of Thin Mints because they taste good and you’ve only been eating salad for the last 6 weeks. The research shows that certain cravings suggest a dietary imbalance or insufficiency. The chart below shows some of the reasons you may crave the junk and what you should eat instead.

It seems pretty straight forward, our bodies require nutrients to perform at an optimum level, and when we are under nourished our brain sends signals to our body to get the nutrients needed or we feel bad. Let’s look at the chocolate craving for instance: chocolate does indeed contain the essential nutrient magnesium, the thing our body is lacking and craving.  Dark chocolate is even on the top ten list for foods highest in magnesium. What the chart provides is some alternatives to the “bad food” that are more nutritionally dense, and provide a bigger bang for your buck. A half a cup of pumpkin seeds provides 606 grams of magnesium, which is 152% of the recommended daily value, where the same amount of dark chocolate is only 95 grams of magnesium and 24% of the daily value. All the “craved foods” provide the nutrient that your body needs, just in small quantities that are surrounded by non-essential nutrients like excess sugar or fat.

It’s pretty easy to find out what your body needs by your cravings. There are several similar charts online, and you can just as easily google your craving to find out what you may be missing nutritionally, and make a better food choice.

So next time you go for the Snickers bar, google “chocolate craving” or candy craving and see what the better alternative is that will satiate your craving and fulfill your body’s needs.