Lifestyle Change, What is it exactly?

You’ve heard it on Oprah.  You read it in a book by Dr. Oz.  You’ve seen it thrown around year after year like a rag doll.  Let’s just stop the b.s.  Is it a real lifestyle change that you can live with, or just a perpetual diet, based on the premise that you’d rather be miserable than overweight?  Like the woman I know who works at the weight loss clinic I used to go to, who only eats 10 foods, all low carb fruits and vegetables all week long only to “treat” herself with pancakes on the weekends?  She’s shaped like a skeleton and rarely smiles.  Or like the gung-ho gym guy who told me that if I wanted to slim down and maintain it I’d never be able to eat another cookie again for the rest of my life?

Stop Stop Stop!!!

Lifestyle change is perpetual, ongoing, forever.  But it’s not a diet!

Lifestyle change, in the context of LifeBliss Solutions, means making  fundamental changes in the way you do things so that they support, not sabotage your efforts at being healthy and happy.

For example, take Marita.  She’s a single suburban mom with 3 children.  She’s also a busy professional with a lengthy commute and thinks she doesn’t have enough time to prepare nutritious meals that her children will eat for dinner on weeknights.  She ended up going through a fast food drive thru twice a week, which was sabotaging her efforts at maintaining a healthy weight because she was eating  junky food too late in the evening.  To solve the problem she began doing basic food prep for dinners on the weekend and mid-week, and packing larger lunches and making dinner the lightest meal of the day.  She also incorporated some raw dishes to cut down on prep time and her children loved it, especially because they got to help make the meals.  With her lifestyle change, she was able to drop that 15 lbs of fat and she kept it off.  As the children got older, things got even easier.  She made a few more practical changes but NO DIET, NO CONTRIVED WORKOUTS.

In order to make effective lifestyle changes, you have to first identify your current lifestyle problems.  Then, you have to keep a wide open mind for solutions.  The key element of lifestyle change is to be honest about what changes you are able and willing to cope with for the rest of your life, that won’t make you miserable in the process.

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Working Smarter, not Harder, for Fitness

This morning I went for a 3-3.5 mile brisk walk.  I am recovering from some bizarre (and common) knee ailment that involves pain, clicking, crunching, and swelling.  I don’t even remember any injury.  I just woke up one morning busted.  So, today I’m not having any knee discomfort, even after my morning exercise. I’m happy about this.

Usually when I go out to walk I end up running.  I hate running but in my mind I’m getting it over with so I speed it up.   It used to Not my goalbother me when the strange bone-thin ultra-animated yuppie snot showoffs rudely breeze past me (invading my personal space).  But not today.  Things are different.  AND, today a rude dork came very close to getting flattened by an SUV that I had stopped at the intersection to avoid, how embarrassing, that snot.

Anyway, back to running vs. walking.  I am fully aware that in the end your can get rid of more fat for the amount of exercise time by running.  But when you start having aches and pains, like last year’s boot camp injury, plantar fasciitis, it’s time to tone it down.  My body sent me a message and I am listening. I’m not 20 years old anymore.  I need my feet and knees for what I love, dancing.  So I’m not running anymore.  I will have to exercise longer at the lower intensity to get the same results.  It’s well worth it to me to not dread my workout and also to not have these injuries that could stop me from dancing forever.  I have a friend in her mid 40s who just had a hip replacement and is learning how to walk again, thanks to her ignoring of her body telling her that running was destroying her.  I certainly don’t want to go through that.

There are plenty of other things that I can do to make up that calorie-burning deficit.  Things that I think are fun and don’t seem like exercise, like (belly, soca, freestyle, wild woman) dance!

Lesson to be learned: one size does not fit all.  We each have a set of abilities and limitations that need to be considered when we set our fitness challenges and goals.  It’s best to do an honest assessment and adjust accordingly.  Most of us are not designed to be a size zero.  But all of us can become a little fitter, a little sexier, and a little happier with a customized plan of action that doesn’t involve pain and torture.  LifeBliss Solutions is launching a program to help you get your groove back in March.  Stay tuned.

Nutritional Density: Let me break it on down (Part 3) Forget it, Just Eat Twinkies

Of course you have heard about the Kansas State University human nutrition Professor Haub, who lost 27 pounds eating Twinkies, donuts, candy bars, and other jank.  It was an experiment to test his theory:  “In weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most — not the nutritional value of the food.” So, that’s all folks, let’s just all stuff ourselves with ultra-processed snack cakes and live happily and skinnily ever after, Yay!

NOT SO FAST, PRETTIES!

I absolutely hate these types of stories because in a society where the average viewer had the attention span of a flatworm, inevitably people will take this and run with it the wrong way.  So put the donuts down, I’m gonna break this on down for you right now.  Please share it with any over-zealous cake eaters in your life.

Twinkies

Every person is not fat for the same reasons.  Professor Haub expressed that pre-Twinkie diet, despite eating whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and occasional treats he wasn’t what he considers healthy, simply because he ate too much.  Too many calories, portion sizes too large.  So he was fat because he just ate too much.  On his Twinkie experiment he limited his caloric intake to less than 1800, instead of his normal intake of 2600 calories per day and lost weight.  However, not everyone is fat simply because of portion size/high caloric intake.  In many cases the culprit is an imbalance of the types of nutrients: fats, protein, and carbohydrates, which is directly related to nutritional density.  Take Judy (not her real name) for example.  Judy is from Georgia and grew up on some good old fashioned soul food, and you know what I’m talking about.  Fried chicken, greens with hamhocks, fried pork chops, and macaroni and cheese that would make you smack your mama.  Guess why she was fat.  She consumed way too much fat.  She did cut calories and portion sizes and would lose a handful of pounds and would very quickly plateau.  She wasn’t fat because she ate too much, she was fat because she ate too much fat.  Don’t get me wrong, she did have to reduce her overall caloric intake to achieve and maintain her healthy weight.  But the process went easier, faster, and lasted longer when she added more high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at the same time as her moderate overall calorie reduction.

On his nutrient deprived junk food diet the professor must have been starving, both literally and figuratively, and here is why.  Nutrient dense foods may have fewer calories but the comparatively higher water and fiber content makes these foods much more filling and satisfying.  For example, many years ago I used to eat Jiffy cornbread.  Jiffy is made with refined flour, is high in sugar and low in fiber.  [ 1/4 cup (1/6 package), 170, 4.5g, 27g, 2g Fiber: 1g]  I could eat the entire thing by myself, yes it is delicious!  But I switched to Hodgson Mill cornbread, which is slightly less sweet, tastes better, and is made with mostly whole grain, with [Serving size 1/4 cup (1/6 package), Calories: 130, fat: 1g, Carbs 27g, Protein: 4g, Fiber: 3g].  But the biggest difference is that I can’t eat another bite more than one or two slices of the Hodgsen Mill cornbread which adds up to about 130-260 calories, much less than the whole pan of Jiffy cornbread at whopping 1020 calories!

According to the highly respected Discovery Health expert, Dr. Mehmet Oz,

Since more than 40% of the calories in the American diet are derived from sugar or refined grains, both of which are nutrient depleted, Americans are severely malnourished.  Refined sugars cause us to be malnourished in direct proportion to how much we consume them.  They are partially to blame for high cancer and heart attack rates we see in America.

Nutritional density is extremely important to not only weight loss, but to overall wellness and disease prevention.  We didn’t even go into the disease discussion.

Families who live in food deserts, usually in very impoverished urban or rural communities, have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, so they often rely on the kind of food Haub was eating. I also took offense to Professor Haub’s statement,

These foods are consumed by lots of people,” he said. “It may be an issue of portion size and moderation rather than total removal. I just think it’s unrealistic to expect people to totally drop these foods for vegetables and fruits. It may be healthy, but not realistic.

While I do agree that it is unrealistic (and unnecessary) to expect people to eliminate junk food entirely from their diets, I can not throw my hands up and say to hell with the fact that some communities basically get all of their food from convienience stores, and are suffering from obesety and various serious ailments as a result.  We will cover this important issue in a later post.

No Fake Ass Food and (New Rule) No Real Food Faking as Other Food

I saw this “healthy mac and cheese recipe” and my foodilicious panties got all in a bunch!  I am all for taking a classic dish and making it a little healthier.  Like greens, nowadays I use smoked turkey neck to season them if I’m using meat at all, instead of the traditional pork.  Or using whole grain pastry flour to make my pizza crust.

I saw this on the site of a totally cool healthy foodie but she lost major points on this one.  Here’s what’s in the fake ass healthy “mac and cheese”:

Looks delish huh?

spaghetti squash
cashews
nutritional yeast
Arrowroot starch (just for thickening)
lemon, juiced
dry mustard
turmeric
paprika
sesame seeds or tahini
miso paste
garlic
sea salt

WTH!!!!  Does your macaroni and cheese normally taste nutty?  Lemony?  There’s no cheese nor anything remotely cheese-like!  I wanted this to be a good dish when I saw the spaghetti squash.  It has the shape of pasta but not the texture.  If you’re okay with that then mo’ power to you.  But one of the major attractions to mac and cheese is its TEXTURE!  It’s just not acceptable.  I’m being closed minded.  I’m not gonna even try that crap.  I may have been a little more understanding if this were not even offered as a mac and cheese alternative, but as spicy, lemony, nutty squash crap.  I’d try it then.

I have a better alternative to mac and cheese that won’t piss you off, cheesy quinoa.  Although quinoa is technically a seed it has a starchy mouthfeel.  And when you add some real cheese–badow!  you’ve got something your family won’t stage a violent mutiny over.  And oh, so simple:

Prepare quinoa as the instructions say.

Add a little milk or soy milk, stir in some mild cheddar cheese, and salt to taste.

Trust me!  I wouldn’t try to pull the wool over your foodie eyes.

It’s fine to substitute or make things similar to others but the nutty-lemony spaghetti squash trying to pass as macaroni and cheese is simply perpetrating a serious fraud.  Remember, everything tasty won’t kill you.

The 10 Pounds in 30 Days Plan Went Bust: I Confess

See, wha-haa-haappened wuz…back on September 9th I went on a mission to drop 10 pounds in 30 days with no diet or fake food and no boring crap.  The whole plan went straight to hell when I discovered a health problem and took action to correct it.  I will spare you all the gory details but I went through a minor surgery (which didn’t seem so minor at all) at the end of September.  Before that I had lost 3 pounds of fat.  After, I don’t know.  It looks as though I gained seven, but the doctor insists that this is water weight.  I my mind I know he’s right because just the same as how the body can’t get rid of more than 1-2 pounds a week, the body can’t manufacture more than 1-2 pounds a fat per week, unless it’s a Supersize Me situation but still, I had a few resulting cookie episodes.  I had to take it easy from all physical activity for 2 and a half weeks after the surgery, which kinda threw me off a little bit more.

So, here we are again.  These things happen because this is real life.  I’m back on the program because I want to slim down a little but also because I love the variety of foods and the exercise, well, is not just exercise.  It’s all fun and games.  (Yasmin unlocked some new songs on Dance Dance Revolution, woo-hoo!)

I don’t know whether I can lose 10 pounds in 30 days or not.  But I know I can slim down and look fabulous in 30 days, but it might take a few more weeks to total 10 pounds, or maybe not, who knows?  I’ve learned that this doesn’t matter.  I was wasting energy worrying about something stupid that just causes unnecessary anxiety and a fall off the bandwagon. I decided a while ago that I am not willing to make any drastic dietary or exercise changes that I am not willing to reasonably keep up forever.  However, I fully acknowledge and take into consideration that  to lose weight requires that we intake less and exert more than maintaining weight does.  But the difference between the two should not be drastic if I’m generally eating nutrient dense delicious foods and keeping my body moving.

The lesson learned:  do the right things and skip the arbitrary deadlines and quotas.  Motivation should not be found in a date on the calendar or a number on the scale, especially since the journey never ends there.  I’ve found some super motivation (besides the good feeling) though.  I’m dancing in a show in February.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need to work towards a certain weight or size.  The motivation is to get back down in that studio working on the most deliciously fantastic erotic tantric bellydance creation ever!  Stay tuned for details, dates, invites.  What’s YOUR motivation?

Nutritional Density: Let me break it on down (Part 2) Whole Grains

Whole Grains

What is a whole grain?  A whole grain is a starch with the entire kernel left intact.  A refined grain is the starch that has the hull or coarse outer bran removed.  The problem is, the bran contains most of the fiber and nutrients, so when it is removed you are left with the endosperm, which is just a starch, a starch that is very rapidly converted to pure sugar, even before it reaches the stomach or bloodstream.  In high school we did an experiment where we took ordinary processed white wheat saltine crackers and chewed them up.  We spit the chewed cracker into a test tube to measure the sugar level.  The change was significant.  Processed starch turns to sugar before it is swallowed.

So, food manufacturers can be pretty tricky when trying to get us to buy their products and will say anything to confuse about the whole grain issue.  Here is a quick guide to what exactly you get when buying grain products at the market:

  • Made with whole grain – probably processed grain (endosperm) and perhaps a touch of bran added.  Usually unclear about how much of the grain used was whole.
  • Multigrain – has nothing to do with the wholeness or unwholeness of the grain used.  Multigrain means that more than one type of grain was used, such as wheat and oats.
  • 100% whole grain – this is the best one.  Indicates that the entire kernel was used–bran, endosperm, and germ.
  • Wheat bread – means nothing.  Most bread is made from wheat, but if there is no indication of what percentage of that wheat is whole, assume that is not.

Generally, though not always, when looking for whole grain products they are more brown in color and less white.  The higher levels of fiber in the food slows down its conversion to sugar, causing a slower spike in blood sugar in addition to the higher nutrient level.  Examples of whole grain products are brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread, whole grain rye bread, 100% whole wheat pasta, 100% whole wheat couscous, and oat bran.

Nutritional Density: Let me break it on down (Part 1)

In a previous post, I declared that I am going to lose 10 pounds of fat in 30 days by eating nutritionally dense foods and fun activities.  I told a very good friend about it and by her response, I discovered that she does not quite get the concept of eating for nutritional density, rather than being on a diet.  This made me wonder if there are lots more of you out there who are having trouble with this brilliant idea of eating nutrient dense food.  I’m going to fill you in on what it is, how to do it, and the super-fabulous effects.  I’ll do this in 3, 4, oh maybe 10 bite-sized entries.

So, what does nutritionally dense mean?  It is similar to nutritious, except that it does not stop at simply the amount of essential vitamins, minerals, and other complicated nutritional components.  Nutritional density takes into consideration the number of calories in the food in relation to the nutritional value.  Ideally, we would choose to eat an item that has a lower calorie count and full of vitamins and minerals over a higher calorie item with fewer vitamins and minerals.

There is a handy list of common foods that are nutritionally dense here.

There are unlimited numbers of creative ways to incorporate these foods into your diet.  Most people who are not health nuts or foodies prefer to slowly introduce these foods.  I found it particularly pleasing to incorporate sensuality into these food adventures.

Generally, berries are nutrient dense.  If you wind up with a batch of not super sweet berries, warm a little honey in a small glass bowl and dip them.  Ok, the bowl needn’t be glass, that’s just one of my crazified foodie obsessions (I promise to tell you about that later)  I know the sweet honey will ramp up the calories but remember, we’re easing into this.  Generally these foods are whole (close to thier natural state–minimally or  not processed), beautifully colorful, and inexpensive. More guidelines to come.

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