Tag Archives: changes

The One In Which I Feel Like A Miserable Walrus Because Science

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I bet if I sat you down you could recite me a list of milk slogans and benefits that have been drilled into our collective heads ad nauseum for the past few decades. It’s a big source of calcium, It makes you grow!, Your bones need it, It has protein, Got Milk? Milk, it does a body good.

Or, does it?

But, sometimes, the benefits of a particular food ain’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Are you surprised? Don’t be. The food industry relies heavily on marketing just like any other business.

The difficult, and sometimes even dangerous part is when we allow for these marketing strategies, this loud information, to override what our own bodies are trying to say. 

See, healthy food is healthy… as long as it isn’t harmful. Doh.

Kind of obvious, right? But you’d be surprised at how many people blur the lines and ignore serious signs of potential problems simply because they continue to be convinced they should be eating x or y since they’re “healthy.”

Whole grains are healthy, as long as you don’t have Celiac disease or an intolerance.

Milk is (debatably) healthy, as long as you don’t have a lactose allergy or intolerance.

Heck, even vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and everything under the sun can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on whether your body loves it or hates it.

See where I’m getting at?

Enter: Me.

I grew up with the same information as you, and thus I grew up drinking many-a glass of milk. Everything was fine.

And then I became an adult. And at some point over the past five years I began noticing that milk doesn’t settle in my stomach very smoothly anymore. Sometimes it gives me a stomach ache. It causes me inflammation and bloating.

I drank milk yesterday to show you exactly what happens to my body (see what I do for you). The first picture is what my abdomen typically looks like after a normal exhalation. Then I drank one glass of milk. And about 20 minutes after, that’s what my stomach looked like after a normal exhalation. See the crazy bloating? It was painful, too, like heartburn. It becomes hard to stand up straight or move freely thanks to some sharp cramps, and all I want to do is lie down in a bundle until the pain is gone. Not pretty.

 

milkafter

 

 

Even though I never had issues with milk when I was a kid (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention?), as an adult willing to experiment I did begin noticing patterns: I discovered straight up milk gives me discomfort. Milk chocolate bars do, too. But somehow cheese, butter and yogurt don’t seem very problematic to my body.

Why the changes? I have no clue. They may be linked to the fact that as we grow we produce less of the enzyme that helps us break down milk, which in turn causes people who could tolerate milk just fine to begin having issues with it later in life.

But the reason doesn’t matter as much as the straight facts: Milk doesn’t benefit my body now. And I know this because my body yells it out loud and clear.

Should I continue drinking milk because calcium! bones! osteoporosis!  Hell no.

I get all my calcium from spinach, kale, beans, almonds, almond butter, salmon, and sardines. None of these foods make me feel like a beached whale in agony. That’s how I know they’re a superior option for me.

 

So now the question becomes… Are you ignoring any clear signals from your body?

There is a reason why our bodies react the way they do, after all.

We’re only wise to tune in and truly listen.

 

Still Counting Calories? At Least You’re Not Working Out To Jane Fonda. Are You?

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Fad diets come and go with the times, as did leotards and fuzzy headbands– though leg warmers seem to be making an interesting comeback. (I still don’t know what to make of that.)

But something that needs to go away already is the useless practice of calorie counting. But. BUT. You’re going to say. And I’m going to wiggle my finger in your face because Nuh huh.

The control that calorie counting offers is more of an illusion, because it allows too big a room for unhealthy practices to be justified. “I’m 300 calories short for the day! This means I get to have a slice of chocolate velvet cake deep fried in butter stuffed with lard.” You know what I mean. If at the end of one day you discover you have consumed a smaller amount of calories than what your goal is it will be easier for you to convince yourself it’s totally fine to snarf down a bag of chips, raid the leftover cake, or finish the extra big chocolate bar. And it’s not.

I honestly believe counting calories sets you up for failure, because there is no specification about the quality of said calories. Two hundred calories of cookies is not the same as 200 calories of raw veggies. You know which one is the smartest option and yet, given the chance by having “spare space” in your calorie count for the day, you’ll choose the unhealthy sugary shit. You know I’m right.

Besides, tell me the truth: Do you really want to be a slave to counting that shit every day for the rest of your life? Do you think it’s  healthy mental practice to obsess about amounts and counts of this or that? Do you honestly want to be that person that brings their motherfucking scale to parties and reunions? Please don’t be. Those people suck the fun right out of getting together with friends.

BUT. You’ll argue. That’s what they do in The Biggest Loser, and they lose a lot of weight! And you’d be correct. But what you don’t see much of in the show is the kind of food they eat. They aren’t limiting their caloric intake and still consuming crap foods. They have a team of people showing them how to eat, when to eat it, how much to eat… it’s television and it’s in the show’s best interest that these peeps lose a lot of weight, and fast. Ratings, babeh. Their meals consist mostly of fresh food. REAL FOOD. Food that is alive and in turn gives life, because that’s the food that allows the body to shed unnecessary weight.  My guess is that thorough nutritional explanations aren’t what most of the population would describe as enthralling TV entertainment, and this is what they don’t show us much of that. Seriously, if you think they lose weight by pure magic of the brutal workouts they’re subjected to, you’ll be highly disappointed. It’s been proven time and time again, you can even repeat after me: You cannot out-train unhealthy eating habits.

You cannot out-train unhealthy eating habits.

You cannot out-train unhealthy eating habits.

YOU CANNOT OUT-TRAIN UNHEALTHY EATING HABITS.

Basically this means you can kill yourself in the gym, on the treadmill, or run your dog to the ground, and the changes in your body will likely remain insignificant for as long as you keep eating the same shit you’re still eating.

And this brings us back to the calorie conundrum. You’re right in that there are amounts of nutrients the body needs for optimal functioning, so how can we know how much to have of what? I’m glad you asked.
Enter the Calorie Control Guide, from the geniuses at Precision Nutrition.

FOR THE GUYS:

                                     FOR THE LADIES:

Click on either picture to be taken to the full article, with more reasons why counting calories sucks and to access printable versions of this guide. It’s very simple to remember! Everything you need is… wait for it… in the palm of your hand. Ba dum tss.

Information is key: Vegan resources

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As some of you have read I’m getting ready to face PCRM’s 21-day Vegan Kickstart, and to my great fortune I have discovered friends and readers alike who want to dip their toes into veganism like I do. First of all, kudos to you guys! I think the moment we let ourselves try something outside our norm, something different to what we’ve done for years, we’re allowing our vision of the world to expand. If or not you feel the benefits, if or not you stick to veganism for the rest of your life, I think that’s all secondary. Right now what’s worth applauding is your willingness to try. You’re giving yourself a chance at something new, and that’s worthy of recognition. How many lives go by and end in the sleepy lull of boring routine? Far too many, if you ask me.

The countdown is ON. One week left before we begin on September 5th!

I think planning will be essential in order to succeed.  Eating purely vegan meals isn’t a part of our normal habits yet, and so planning will prevent us from falling– out of convenience, laziness, or plain ole hunger– into the typical meal options we would choose if we had nothing vegan already made and on hand.  In preparation for the Vegan Kickstart, here is a list of some of the resources I have found helpful so far:

This is Vegan

Custom-made life    Mostly vegetarian, though a lot of vegan recipes included.

Choosing Raw   Vegan and raw cooking.

Going Vegan: My Journey

A Midlife Vegan

Vegan Dad

The Vegetarian who hates tofu  Some vegetarian, some vegan recipes.

Show me Vegan

Rawdorable

Little House of Veggies

Lean to the sun

Living Vegan

Peas and Thank you

Fat free Vegan

Vegan for $3.33 a day  A blog on being vegan AND frugal?  BE STILL MY HEART.

My Vegan Journal

Your Vegan Guide

The Vegetarian Resource Group  With lots of info on veganism as well.

Pure 2 Raw

Nutrition MD

This is what I eat

Vegan skinny bitch

Veganizzm

Really, there are tons of websites and blogs where you can find fantastic and easy to follow vegan meal ideas, all you have to do is google. Are you on Facebook? Since I ‘liked’ a gazillion vegan pages and groups I’m constantly reminded of my upcoming challenge, and by reading their articles I feel much more prepared to face the changes. Every day my news feed is inundated with vegan information– and information is key!

Do you have any other blogs or resources you’d like to share? I’d love to learn more!

The de-junkification of a kitchen

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I promise you this won’t turn into an exclusively foodie blog, but we can’t deny the connection between physical health and the food we eat. Fitness and healthy food go hand in hand, and while you most certainly can work out your body and shape it with exercise, the equation will be complete when you introduce wholesome meals that take care of your insides as much as you take care of your outside.

With this in mind I figured I’d rid my kitchen once and for all of all the stuff I no longer want us to eat. This sounds really easy, and for the most part it is– the only tricky bit is to keep in mind that I share a life with another adult who can very well choose for himself what he wants to eat. Stephen has gotten better and better at trying some of the healthy stuff I make, with mixed results for the most part (he loved the vegetable whole wheat wraps, hated the quinoa-hemp homemade energy bars).

This is what my pantry was like before:

Top shelf:

Canned ‘goods’. And I use the term lightly because really, after reading the sodium contents and knowing that toxic chemicals leech into the food from the can, how good can it be?

I got rid of all the canned soups (yes, even the Shrek one. Or actually, the Shrek one especially. I won’t want my kid eating any of that again) and most of the canned vegetables. Admittedly, I kept two cans of red kidney beans because I felt safe knowing they’re there if I ever need them for an emergency chili or similar. Quite honestly, I’m thinking those will fly out the window soon as well, because with a little organization I can continue to cook and freeze my own dry beans.

Second shelf:

Crackers, pasta, nuts, seeds and grains.

Not a lot of it was bad, though I did get rid of all the white pasta and white crackers, as well as the ever-evil Kraft Dinner. I kept the good stuff like my whole wheat noodles, rye & buckwheat crackers, the walnuts, chia seeds, flax seed, brown rice.

Third shelf, odds and ends:

Got rid of the breadcrumbs and the sugary peanut butter. Kept the almond milk and all the yogurt containers you see, which keep my dry beans and lentils (of course!)

Fourth shelf:

Holy. This one was bad. It has all my baking stuff, so lots to weed out.

I got rid of the white sugar, white flour, chocolate chips, table salt, pre-packaged bread and cake mixes, pancake mix and muffin mix. Whew!

Lower shelf:

This one was something else, too.

Got rid of the bacon bits (why was this ever in my house in the first place? What was I thinking?!), the pre-packaged meals, ramen noodles, and a bunch of  sauces and dressings I had in stock.

 

I know it can be overwhelming for some to transition away from what they’ve always had to eat, from what they’ve always cooked. If it helps, here is my humble list of some of the substitutions I made to replace the bad stuff I won’t be seeing in this house again:

I got rid of                             Substituted with

Canned tomato soup          Fresh tomatoes to make my own

Canned vegetables            Fresh vegetables, for freezing in batches

White pasta                         Whole wheat pasta, brown rice pasta

Small pasta for soups         Barley grains

White rice                            Brown rice, quinoa

Soda crackers                    Wasa rye and buckwheat crackers

White sugar                        Stevia, pure maple syrup, molasses

Breadcrumbs                     Freshly ground flax seed

Sugary peanut butter        Natural peanut butter

White flour                         Whole wheat flour, ground oats

Prepackaged mixes          Google for homemade versions!

Table salt                           Iodized sea salt

White bread                       Whole wheat bread, rice cakes

Bottled dressings             Olive oil with balsamic vinegar

Sugary cereals                 Oatmeal, buckwheat, spelt

Meat                                  Beans, beans, BEANS!

 

 

The Vegan factor: The 21-day Vegan Kickstart

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You know how the internet is: you click here and there, follow one link and the next, and next thing you know you’re considering a drastic lifestyle change.  (This is normal, right?)

For the first time, the thought of adopting a vegan (or at least as close to vegan as my knowledge thus far allows) diet sounds very appealing.

I have signed up for the 21-day Vegan Kickstart, and I’m actually excited! This program will begin on September 5th, so you’re still on time to sign up and give it a try yourself.

The decision came after learning about athletes like ultra-marathon runner Scott Jurek, weight lifter Jane Black, Ironman triathlon professional (and Canadian!) Brendan Brazier, and mixed martial arts fighter Mac Danzig. The world of vegans in athleticism is eclectic, including a vast number of sports and disciplines that require endurance, speed, strength and agility. All of this can be accomplished– like the aforementioned have demonstrated with their example– through a vegan lifestyle. And I want me some of that.

I’m curious to see if or which differences I will notice while going vegan for 21 days.  If you choose to join this challenge leave a comment so I can read about your experiences!

The bike and me

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A time or two I fell into the ways of a common saying, expressing I have a love-hate relationship with the bicycle. As logic dictates, this expression is erroneous and nothing but an illusion, because regardless of my affirmations the bike has remained neutral and I’m pretty sure it has never loved nor hated me.  Of course in our logic we know this, and yet we still manage to state what is not. Habit? Excuse? Self-sabotage? And, why?

I bring this up because this specific workout session on the bike taught me lots. Aware of many limits that needed to be broken I hopped on the machine and pedaled, focusing only on my breathing. The first indication that things were changing for the better came when Amaru (my trainer and boss) asked if I had been doing something during my three-week holiday, because I was performing much better than I had before. No, I hadn’t worked on my cardio for over three weeks; the only difference was that this time I wanted my cycling session to be better.

As I kept going and many minutes passed the first recognizable signs of tiredness appeared: my legs felt heavy and my breathing was coming out of synch. Soon after I focused on these signs it was like my mental auto-pilot kicked in and immediately jumped into old ways. “I can’t!” I said.

As soon as the words came out of my mouth my awareness came back, allowing me to learn a valuable lesson. I noticed how instantly after saying the words my legs felt many times heavier, each pedal a difficult task. I could sense my body slouching by the second, pain on my shoulders. The heat coming from my face was so intense it reminded me of the sensation previous to passing out. I felt like I was shrinking into a puddle of sweat that would quickly dissolve entirely. I gave myself a moment to observe what I had done, not mad or reprimanding, simply knowing.  I corrected myself out loud “Yes I can.”  and my eyes fixed on a spot on the wall as my conscious effort to overcome mental barriers began.

I visualized myself riding the bike through a beautiful forest, up a hill and down another. Then I saw myself pushing hard to finish a race in first place. I even had an inner chuckle when I thought to myself  ‘just pedal like you stole something’ (nice to know that even in times of full concentration I can keep my sense of humor!). At some point I noticed Amaru had been talking for a while, and I tuned in just to hear  “You’re not even hearing what I say right now, you’re gone into another world. Good. Keep going.”

And I did. For a total of 32 kilometers, which is much much more than I had ever done before.