Life On Purpose

Day 25 : Happy Calories July 31, 2013

I believe food was meant to be enjoyed. Real, nourishing, whole foods. Our culture is so accomplishment driven that we could probably count the number of meals we shared at the table with our families in a given week on one hand. When we count calories, I think it robs us of the joy and pleasure of eating. I encourage you to shift the focus from how much you are consuming to how nourishing it is for your body: the scientific term for this is “nutrient-dense.” Think about how many bowls of sugary cereal you have to eat to feel satisfied. What if you ate an egg and 2 slices of bacon? The feel of satisfaction is completely different. Real food fills you and satisfies you. Now think about what time you’d be hungry after these two meals…I’d say you’ll be hungry in 90 minutes after the cereal or in 2.5 hours after the egg and bacon.

Here are some tips for simplifying and enjoying food:

1. Stop counting calories. Pay attention to your natural hunger signals.
2. Make food choices that are whole and nourishing.
3. Sit down to eat…I’m so guilty:(
4. Try to eat with family and/or friends as often as possible.
5. Allow your palate time to adjust. You aren’t going to automatically love whole foods. But give them a chance. Don’t pass judgment until you’ve given them a fair chance (at least 3 months).
6. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Your taste buds change. (I speak from experience!)

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Day 17 : Pantry Raid July 12, 2013

I saved this for a Friday because you will need time for this. It’s also likely going to require you to go to the grocery store to restock with whole foods. I’ll be extra nice on Monday-I promise!

I’ll make this short and sweet. Today’s challenge is going to be painful for many of you. This is a huge step to healthy living. It’s time to reject the SAD diet. Raid your pantry. Let’s keep this simple. We are going to focus on the two ingredients that I believe are probably the worst offenders of health: high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil.

Read each label in your pantry and fridge and throw out any item containing “high fructose corn syrup” or “hydrogenated” anywhere in the ingredient list. Hear your body shout for joy as it hits the trash! That’s where it belongs! Let yourself enjoy the excitement of a new beginning!

 

Day 12 : Guest Post-The Hormone Factor July 1, 2013

I’d like to welcome Karen Vogler, my guest blogger today! She has written a very practical and helpful post on hormones and wellness. Enjoy!

Hormones
The world of science and research has provided literal volumes of books, studies and reports on various hormones and their importance to optimal wellness. With that understanding, it is impossible to give even an adequate summary in a short guest blog on all the hormones, their functions and their relationship to other processes in the body. I am not an Endocrinologist or a doctor at all but I am a woman who has been on a hormone journey which has necessitated learning more than any human would want to know about hormones on my personal path to wellness (early fertility issues, hypothyroid, menopausal, adrenal dysregulation….you get the picture).
In a nutshell, hormones are little chemical messengers that trigger certain processes in our bodies (visualize a domino effect where one domino topples over and hits another and causes a chain reaction). Hormones are vital to our existence and well being. You are probably familiar with the major sexual and reproductive hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and you have certainly experienced the hormone adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone) the last time you were frightened. But can you name other hormones? Surprisingly, there are 60+ hormones!
With all of them In perfect balance….
• we have uninterrupted sleep and wake feeling rested
• we have abundant energy
• we respond to stressors without debilitating anxiety and worry
• we have a stable, balanced mood
• we lose weight and/or maintain a healthy body weight easily
• we enjoy being active
• we have balanced blood sugar levels
• we have normal menstrual cycles and no fertility issues (females obviously!) • we have healthy sex drives (men and women)
• we have the metabolism of champions
• we have sharp memory
• we have glowing skin, hair and nails
• we maintain muscle mass
• we have few struggles with food cravings
There are some lifestyle choices that you can focus on to support healthy hormone function. They are (and you’ve likely heard this before):
1. Eat an organic diet of whole foods. Whole foods include: fresh veggies, greens and fruits (in moderation if weight loss is a goal because of natural sugar content), grass- fed meats, healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, mac nut oil, grass fed real butter), whole grains and grass fed dairy (if not intolerant). Processed foods, refined grains and food-like substances can wreak havoc on several hormones including insulin, cortisol and thyroid. The result is a sluggish metabolism, weight gain, lethargy and a potential host of other issues. Soy foods can also have a modest effect on estrogen levels.
2. Get regular exercise. Exercise impacts almost every hormone. Exercise reduces the stress hormones and their unfavorable side effects while increasing the “feel good” hormones and raising the metabolic rate. Growth hormone is excreted during physical activity which has an extensive list of biological actions with positive benefits. Choose what you enjoy doing for exercise and do it consistently.
3. Get adequate sleep. Sleeping less than eight hours per night can severely affect the hormones that control metabolism and may contribute to insulin resistance. Experts recommend getting to sleep by 10 pm to maximize the benefits of the natural circadian rhythms such as cell regeneration, melatonin production and other important biological processes. Sleep can be enhanced by getting up at the same time each morning, avoiding stimulants after 3 pm, eating three-four hours before bedtime and having a dark, cool bedroom.
4. Chill out! Stress activates the fight-or-flight response which causes the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol jacks up appetite especially for simple carbs and sweets. Eating those foods causes insulin to spike and then bottom out leaving you ravenously hungry in a short amount of time. You know what happens next…you gain weight and cortisol-induced weight gain goes straight to the belly! My favorite stress busters include walking and hiking (taking time to play), practicing yoga and getting monthly massages. Anything that increases endorphins will help with stress reduction….laughing, making love, etc.
5. Get an education about toxin exposure. Certain natural and chemical substances can cause hormone dysregulation. They are referred to as endocrine disrupters. Some are thought to mimic the estrogen hormone. These environmental and man- made toxins can be found in certain pesticides, plastics, cookware, soaps, detergents, beauty products/cosmetics, paints, lubricants and other items. Concerns also exist regarding some food additives (excito-toxins) like MSG and artificial sweeteners and their impact on hormone modulation.
A word about Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin….Vitamin D is more of a hormone than a vitamin and I keep reading reports that many of us (especially those of us living north of Atlanta) are deficient. Thirty minutes of sun exposure with 40% of our bodies exposed and without sunscreen is needed daily to prompt enough Vitamin D production. Food sources of Vitamin D include fish, egg yolk and fortified dairy products. I take a Vitamin D3 supplement daily. Optimizing my levels of Vitamin D has contributed to an increase of energy and has supported my weight loss efforts.
Hormones can become imbalanced (meaning we have too little or too much of one or more hormones) due to many causes including genetic predisposition and cell receptors becoming resistant, so a trip to a Functional Medicine Practitioner is recommended if you are experiencing anything less than that blissful list at the beginning of this article! (I see a Naturopathic Physician who practices functional medicine. Functional Medicine focuses on treating the cause of illness rather than a list of symptoms. Functional Medicine sees the body as a whole, connected being rather than fragmented systems and generally uses the least-invasive treatment products and practices to support the body in its healing and wellness. Think: integration of “alternative” and “Western” practices.)
My journey with balancing hormones has often felt like I have been a passenger on a fast-moving train trying to hit a moving target going in the opposite direction! It has not been easy. When I first began seeing my current health practitioner, I could only report one positive thing from the list above which was that I enjoyed being active but that was nullified by the fact that I didn’t have the energy! Two and a half years later, I can say that I am experiencing every single item on that list.

 

Day 7 : Goals June 23, 2013

Purpose. That’s what a goal gives you on the journey to health and fitness. Not having a goal is like getting in your car and driving not knowing where you want to go, but hoping your time and gas will take you somewhere awesome. It isn’t efficient or effective, and exercising and eating well without goals is not nearly as fun or rewarding.

If you are new on this journey, you’ll probably be basing your goals on your weight and/or measurements. If you are more focused on increasing your fitness level, your goal will likely be making a goal based on how you’d like to perform.

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

1. Waist to Hip Ratio of 0.7 for women and 0.9 for men is considered healthy and at lower risk for chronic diseases and is also correlated with fertility. This was my first target goal for my own journey back before baby #3. Calculate the waist to hip ratio by dividing waist circumference by hip circumference. For example:

Waist 32inches/hips 37 inches= W to H ratio 0.86.

2. Weight or inch loss- this is essentially the same as number one except number one is more belly fat focused.
For example, you may want to lose 5 or 10% of your body weight. Or you may choose to lose by clothing size. For women, approximately one inch off of your bust, waist and hips (3 inches total) will take you down one dress size.

3. Cardio mileage-obese individuals will want to start with walking or swimming to ease stress on the joints. I recommend finding a 5k to work toward for your first mileage goal. If you aren’t obese, try working up to jogging the entire 5k. Couch 2 5k is a great tool for working toward this goal.

4. Strength goals-Fit and healthy-weighted individuals can work toward strength goals by doing challenges like the squat challenge or the plank challenge . You can also set weight or repetition goals for yourself based on the results you want. Another option is to follow challenges from free trainers online like the insanity killer challenge

4. Consistency-you may be more interested in establishing consistency before you set a particular goal. I suggest that, if you go this route, this period of time be four weeks or less. You should then create a true fitness goal. For example-aim to exercise four times per week for two weeks and then work into a 5k training routine or do the squat challenge.

So today, make your goal. I am working toward a 10k race in August. I’ve never EVER run that far EVER in my whole life EVER! It’s a big challenge for me, but I’m ready to take it on. Today is my first official training day.

By now you should have a picture and measurements to mark the start of your fitness journey. I encourage you to stay away from the scale and measuring tape for at least one week. Begin to develop a long term mindset. The results will take time. You will feel better before you look better. Make sure to review the Label Reading 101 post and make wise choices at the grocery store this week to capitalize on your workouts. Also be mindful that this is a journey we are on-there isn’t a final destination. After you meet your first goal, and even if you fail, you will make a new one or lengthen your timeframe. When the sweat drips, the struggle comes and you want to give up, look at your picture, measurements and goal. You already made up your mind at the beginning. Discuss your struggles with your accountability partner and talk/think through how you can overcome any obstacles. Then push onward. Remember-this journey is not about perfection, but rather progress.