Tag Archives: resources

Eating Junk Food: We Know It’s Wrong. So Why Do We Do It Anyway?

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junk

 

The answer to the question above is in this video, short and sweet, easy to watch and understand.

Regardless of your nutritional approach (you don’t have to be paleo, or vegan, or anything in particular to get the jist of the issue here) I recommend you watch it, watch it, WATCH IT.

 

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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.

Exercise During Pregnancy? Don’t Mind If I Do

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“Oh, look at that pregnant woman waddle! I bet she walks funny out of muscle soreness from performing series of lunges, squats and deadlifts.” Said NO ONE EVER.

Sad but true, few people would believe this pregnant mom’s waddle walk is at times consequence of physical exercise. BUT IT IS. Sometimes. Other times I’m just being a normal preggo.

So let’s talk about activity during pregnancy. Or its alternative title: I’m pregnant, not dying. Yes I’m allowed to move.

Indistinct to, oh, every expectant woman in the history of the modern western world, I have been on the receiving end of advice suggesting that I should “take it easy” and “rest while it’s still possible” before the baby comes. I’ve yet to understand the logic behind this.

Of course there are situations in which a medical condition makes it difficult or even risky for mum to be active, and I’m not here to argue with that. What’s more, there are moms that consciously choose to not do anything during their baby’s gestation and I find that totally understandable (hey, it is a choice.) But what about the standard, normal pregnancy in which both mom and bub could benefit from activity, and there are no legitimate reasons (medical or otherwise) for passiveness?

I’m a true believer of being in tune with one’s body and following its cues– and if you ask me, everyone should be practicing this, not just pregnant women– but I’ve yet to understand why we feel so compelled to warn mom against doing “too much”. How much is that, exactly?

Childbirth is not only one of the most important athletic events in a woman’s life, it is also one of endurance. It’s like the Olympics but of life, and instead of a golden medal you get a chubby baby to snarfle on at the end of your race. You bet your ass I’m training.

Speaking of Olympics, what about Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who competed in London at almost eight months pregnant?

My personal logic says that if all is well and in order, and the mom is already used to a certain rhythm of exercise, it isn’t necessary to stop. Some modifications may be suitable, some days may feel not as great… but as long as mom is paying attention to what her body says, no harm is done. Most of all, exercise your common sense.

Here is what I do.

For cardio: Zumba

I’m pleased that I’ve been able to keep up with teaching two hours of Zumba per week feeling great. I was already used to this kind of exercise and have been able to maintain the pace throughout my pregnancy (I’m on week 34 and still going). Not only do my lungs and heart get a workout, it’s dance: it makes me feel happy, energized, alive. I credit this for keeping me in such a great mood and believing I can accomplish my goals. Find your thing, whatever makes you smile, and stick with it for as long as it feels right.

Now, in my Zumba class there’s a lot of hip movement, a lot of booty shaking, and a lot of whining down. Add all this to the weight of a growing baby on the bladder and things can get awkward. Straight up I can tell you nothing terrible has happened and there have been no accidents, but it does feel kind of funny/weird at times. How do I deal? I got me one of these prenatal support bands.  It sure has helped alleviate some of the pressure thus making me feel more comfortable while I dance, but don’t think you have to shell out the $15 plus shipping for results– it’s nothing more than a wide strip of elastic with hooks. That’s it. Make it yourself and even better because you’ll set the hooks to close exactly where you want them to.

For flexibility: Yoga

During pregnancy there is a release of relaxin, a hormone our wise body produces to make our joints stretchy and limber in preparation for birth. Relaxin is the reason we need to be careful not to over stretch. It’s a matter of paying attention to how our body is feeling, and remembering that this isn’t the best moment to attempt twisting into a pretzel for the first time.

As much as I would love to go to a prenatal yoga class, truth is the budget doesn’t allow for that right now. The good news is, there’s still a way to get our yoga in. Video, baby! I follow Shiva Rea’s Prenatal Yoga video in the comfort of my living room and frumpiness of my pj’s. I find this video very easy to follow, even for a beginner, as it clearly explains modifications for women in second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

*Many thanks to Angelina, Amy and Christine, all whom in one way or another made it possible I have this video now. Teehee!

For muscle strength: Strength training

Squats and I are like BFFs now. Word. Hey, I figure I’ll be doing my share of squatting at the moment of birthing my baby, so might as well get all the practice I can get.

For obvious reasons I can’t do situps, but I keep my core in check with planks.

For upper body strength I mostly go for dumbbells. I love dumbbells. Bicep curls, triceps kicks, shoulder press, chest press (with plenty of breaks and attention to how I feel– lying on our back isn’t the most recommended thing during the third trimester), upward rows… the possibilities are endless.

For mental sanity, entertainment, and fun: Random things

Hiking

Fun in nature, fresh air, a workout. Extra points for dragging your friends along.

Swimming

Being so light and buoyant in the water feels ridiculously wonderful.

Rock climbing

Fun challenge trying to keep the body close to the rock wall with a 7.5 month pregnant belly. Totally doable, quite enjoyable.

Canoeing

My shoulders, back, and core really felt the workout with the paddling. Very relaxing once I got over the fear of flipping over.

And when all else fails… walk.
Walk to the post office, to the store, to the library, around your block. You don’t have to act like an elite athlete every single day of your pregnancy, and chances are you will have many days, like I do, in which there isn’t a hint of desire to move. That’s ok, those days have their place, too. When I feel ready to get going again walking helps me start slow and get back on track.

I really want to be clear and say it is not my intention in the least to make other moms feel bad if it hasn’t been possible or desirable for them to stay active while pregnant. Nor do I wish to set a bar for others to compare themselves and decide if they’ve been a better or worse expectant mom than I. This is just my personal experience, so different from my first pregnancy, and we’re each on our individual path to follow with our own lessons to be learned.

I have received many benefits from staying active. Forget about the physical benefits… the mental ones, holy cow! I don’t know how I would be feeling right now if I hadn’t stayed as mobile. It’s as if keeping myself reasonably challenged has lit a spark inside– I feel happy, accomplished, relaxed and peaceful. This process has reminded me to trust my body because it is capable of achieving many wonderful things. I’m very grateful.

For more information on exercise and pregnancy, read Precision Nutrition’s article on How To Exercise During Pregnancy.

Ah, Sunday

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If you’re anything like me, Sunday means kicking back and relaxing. And doing laundry and baking for the week and freezing meals… When you’re done showering the dads of your life with love and chocolate (of the organic, sustainable, fair trade kind *wink*) take some time to catch up on your reading. Come on. It does your brain good. Here are some cool articles I read during the week and that you may find interesting!

And the video at the very end? Also very cool.

Growing Up With A Fat Dad, The New York Times.

A complex story, with a savior and a dash of hope.

Ultramarathon Running: How a Vegan Diet Helped Me Run 100 Miles  by Scott Jurek, for the Huffington Post

I don’t have to remind you how much I love Scott Jurek, right? I mean, we did share a moment, after all.

Ironman Champ: Train Your Brain, Then Your Body

Beautiful article in which four-time World Ironman champion Chrissy Wellington reminds us what we already know but consistently choose to ignore: To win the race, you must first win it in your head.

Brilliant TED talk by Christopher McDougall on what he learned about endurance running from living with the Tarahumara indians in Mexico. Must watch!

Field Trip For Sanity Preservation Purposes

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Some people go to church on Sunday. We go to the health food store. Wut.

Nature’s Emporium Wholistic Market, located in Newmarket ON.

I’ve said before I’m lucky to have found a bunch of friends who are into the same kind of stuff that currently rocks my interest, and it’s particularly lucky if you have a husband with no desire to sort through the latest health trends.

This is how my friends and I left our hubses and kids behind (sanity!) and spent three hours of our Sunday looking at every product, reading every label and comparing every price in the huge health food store located 45 minutes outside of our hometown. Pure heaven.

I took the liberty of highlighting the most important aspects in this picture. In case you’re wondering it took me forever to figure out how to add the text. Every duck-faced girl in Facebook was smarter than me for a second there. Glad that’s over.

Health food stores are tricky. The title itself, health food store, imposes an image of wellness or of wholeness, like is the case in Nature’s Emporium, described as a wholistic market. As in Did you go to the market? No, I went to the wholistic market. Bitch.

However, a bit of label reading will shed a whole new light on the reality. One quick look at the ingredients on an unreasonably priced box of meager, weightless cookies proved that yes, said cookies were in fact sugar free, but they still contained a bunch of ingredients I didn’t want my 10 year-old daughter eating. Can I make something better and cheaper at home? Absolutely.

If honesty was the name of the game, health food stores would really be somewhat healthy but still full of shit- stores. Or depends on your concept of health food-stores.

Just like with any other business, these shops are popular because they have a niche, an appeal, an allure. I guess some people think shopping here gives them automatic respectability, because they’re, you know, better. Of course going to a wholistic market doesn’t make us magically health oriented, better than others or worthy of recognition. It’s a store.

But one thing is certain: health food shops are a great place in which one can find items and ingredients not commonly available in the average supermarket. The fact that they provide a lot of different options to what is found in the usual stores is very valuable, even if we do have to be careful and sort through the junk to find the really beneficial stuff. It’s ok and it’s part of being an observant consumer.

They do have some great deals and some very low prices but, again, make sure you sort through until you find what’s right for you.

Stepping into a health food store for the first time can be daunting, at least for me it was. It seemed like such a different world full of things I had never heard about before.

Here’s what I did to make shopping easier for me:

-The list. Have a list of the specific ingredients or items you know you need, along with an idea of their prices (check online or call other similar stores beforehand). You want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, especially because costs at a holistic store can add up very quickly.

-The no-no’s. As you become aware harmful things you no longer want to consume make a list of ingredients to avoid. For example, if you want to avoid sugar make sure you know all the alternative names with which companies hide it in their ingredients. If you’re avoiding hormone-disrupting chemicals in your skincare and body wash products, know which ingredients are harmful and buy only a product that does not contain them.

-Take notes in the store. You’ll come across so.many.things. you didn’t even know existed that it’s very likely your interest will be piqued. Write down the things you want to learn more about when you get back home before deciding if they’re a worthy purchase for you.

-Bring friends! Aside from making it all more fun, they’re also a big help. At least a couple of times I would have ended up buying things I could easily find at my hometown grocery store if it hadn’t been because Amy gave me the heads up. No harm would have been done, but really this was a trip to stock up on the things that aren’t easily available in our hometown.

Ignore your husband wanting to know how much you spent. What?

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!

Of goals and challenges: The Happiness Project Toolbox

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If you haven’t surfed The Happiness Project Toolbox yet, I highly recommend you do!  It’s a free website designed to help you keep track, stay motivated and log progress throughout any goal you set for yourself. It can be anything, from improving one’s finances to resolving to travel more and everything in between. I’m thinking it could be a fantastic aid in pursuing our fitness achievements as well!

I’m new to it myself, but already I’ve found inspiration reading through what other members have set out to do. Enjoy!