Number one reason people make poor food choices? Drumroll please…… Lack of time. Does this come as a surprise to anyone? Of course not! We are busy, busy, busy! Food is an afterthought. More often than not, we decide what to eat once we are hungry, and then look for a convenient “fix” so that we can move on with our day.
Yes, quantity of food is important, but that does not minimize the significance of quality. Healthy food will always be in short supply when you are stuck in traffic, at the office, your kids’ practices, in a meeting, or waiting in line. By the time we get to eat, we are “starving” and grab the wrong thing simply because it is available.
These situations happen daily and they take their toll on our health as Americans. We put more thought into the type of gas we put in our cars than we do fuel for our bodies. (We even purchase them at the same place…gross!)
The following is an action plan and prevention tips. Carve out some time each week to plan your meals and snacks in advance. You should know exactly what you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it when you wake up in the morning. In this way, you are prepared for the day ahead…mentally and physically!
1. Use an hour on the weekend to cut up fresh fruits and veggies for the day. Pre-make salads and throw enough meat on the BBQ, or in the oven, for lots of leftovers for sandwiches and stir fry’s later in the week. This will cut way down on the processed junk you eat “in a pinch.”
2. Pre-pack food in appropriate portion sizes. Tupperware containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes for every member of the family. Get into the habit of “grab and go” with healthy choices.
3. Invest in coolers! Bringing a small cooler of snacks and meals filled with healthy options to work with you may get you some snide comments from co-workers…that is until they see your waistline shrinking. Purchase a medium sized cooler to keep in the trunk of your car for quick stops during commutes or kids practices to load up on produce, and fresh protein options. Keep a large cooler available for car trips, kids games, or long days away from home so you won’t be so tempted to eat take out, or garbage from the gas station.
4. Eat every 3-4 hours. Schedule it! Never let yourself get starving. It is impossible to make healthy choices once you are that hungry. Also, the human digestive machine works most efficiently when fed at regular intervals. Small meals regularly throughout the day should be a daily habit that keeps metabolism moving, energy levels consistent, and mental clarity and focus in check.
Notice that by creating a plan, you not only save time during the week, but also money. Do the math…it’s a win/win!
The celebration at your house is over. You:
A. Start cleaning up, munching as you go on all the left over goodies, and wrapping up the remains to be eaten later, saving the best stuff in your private stash.
B. Hand leftovers to friends and family as they walk out the door, wrap up the fresh stuff, and toss the junk in the garbage.
C. Finish every last goody that night so you won’t be “tempted”
D. Let it sit out and throw it all away in the morning.
As ridiculous as some of those answers sound, we can find ourselves somewhere among them. Is there a correct answer? It serves to show us that our lifelong beliefs about food (which were shaped by our parents and their parents) affect the way we view the value of food. Many of us were brought up by our post-depression era parents who loathed wastefulness. We are bringing up our children with those same messages…“There are children starving in India,” “Waste not, want not”, “Clean your plate”, and the dreaded,“No dessert until you finish your dinner.”
Things have changed. We live a fast paced life, with very little home cooking. We eat and feed our kids what is convenient. Out of a bag, or the freezer, or a box…We eat too fast and we eat too much. The biggest problem I am seeing with the rise of childhood obesity is parents who make their children eat food that they should not even be consuming in the first place.
“Aha!” I thought. This is exactly why our kids are among the unhealthiest in the world. There has to be some kind of solution. Our kids are addicted to sugar and processed foods. Why? Because sometimes as parents, it is easier to offer them out of convenience or a method of bribery, and then insist they finish all of it, even though little tummies fill up fast.
With all of the chemicals, additives, and unhealthy ingredients, it is similar to handing someone you love a bottle of poison and saying, “Make sure you finish all of it.” Think about it.
The health implications are severe. Read the statistics. We are an unhealthy population, spending millions of dollars on diseases that are totally preventable. It starts in the home. Throw away the garbage and keep the fresh stuff plentiful and available. Trust me, it will all get eaten when you don’t default to chips!
Tips for healthy eating and reducing waste:
1. Don’t buy so much junk to begin with. Offer fresher, healthier alternatives. Don’t be afraid to clean out the pantry and pitch the junk!
2. Do not, under any circumstances, force feed a child food that most health professionals would agree is “poison.”
3. Limit your opportunities for junk. Just say, “No thanks,” when someone hands you the leftover cake to take!
4. Don’t finish it yourself, just to satisfy your urge to not be wasteful. Pizza crust really doesn’t taste that good! You can save hundreds of calories a day with this tip.
5. Learn to throw garbage where it belongs…in the garbage!!!
Oh, and those starving people in India? They are still starving.
-Volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter once a month.
-Adopt a child overseas and send a monthly donation.
-Get the family involved in community outreach events.
-Sponsor a family for the holidays.
If you are really concerned about starving people, there are thousands of ways to help. Eating all the left over birthday cake isn’t one of them.
Eating shouldn’t be complicated! There is so much information available on what to eat, when to eat, what not to eat, cleanse, don’t cleanse, what celebrities do, what your neighbor does…it’s overwhelming. Confusion is understandable, but it is also avoidable.
This series will focus on the reality of the diet (which is not a dirty four letter word, but a basic necessity of life.)
Introducing “Rules for Eating” exclusively for Smart Fem subscribers:
Rule #1 Spend more money on food.
Yes, I just said that. I find it sad that we spend more on a purse or a pair of shoes than on groceries, don’t you? Our basic fundamental need for nutrition is superseded by our desire to obtain inanimate objects and fun. Think about it. Last time I checked, being healthy IS fun, and all your clothes look great, regardless of where you buy them.
Your physical health and well-being is directly impacted by your dietary choices. Period. Spending more on organic, healthy, all-natural products, and less money on eating out, crap from vending machines, and alcohol at the local bar equals better health.
Whine all you want about the price of healthy food or high quality nutritional supplements, after you have examined your monthly expenses on entertainment and luxury items. If your priorities are backwards, you really aren’t in a position to cry about your health, your weight, or your dress size.
We are the only nation in the world that spends an average of 10% or less of our income on food. As the highest priority in life after clean drinking water, why is it that we grab the first thing that looks like food and shove it in our mouth without ever tasting it or reading a label to see what it actually is?
The obesity epidemic is a problem. Our problem. The top three deadly diseases are totally avoidable. Your healthcare costs are rising in direct relation to the way this country eats. Take a good, hard look at how your money is spent. Re-allocate funds, and redirect your priorities. Feeding your family garbage so that you can afford the $400/month car payment just ain’t right.
When I was a freshman in high school, I skipped my last class of the day to watch the boys’ swim team practice. I spent hours and hours in the comfort of the humidity watching the strength and the power and sleekness of the male swimmer. When I was a sophomore, I volunteered to become a “flasher” for the boys’ gymnastics team. This meant I sat at the judges table in posted the scores. I was as close to the action as you could get. Gymnastics: the art of physical perfection.
My junior and senior years were spent as a student athletic trainer for the football team. Every game I spent on the sidelines, and every afternoon, in the locker room taping ankles, nursing injuries, and cultivating a passion.
I never dated any of the guys on those teams! I am quite certain none of them even noticed me. I was madly in love with athletics, not the athletes, to be honest.
I went away to college and studied the human body. The more I learned, the more I craved to learn. To this day, I can’t get enough. It does not really matter what sport, or at what level, it is about movement. It is poetry and it is science. There is no limit to human potential.
Everyday I hear excuses why someone can’t do something. I have been the cheerleader, the coach, and the slave master, but it is the people out there “just doing it” that are the inspiration, really. Everyday I see someone go beyond any expectation they started with. Everyday I witness the transformation that happens from getting off the couch and moving. The option is to grow old, and soft, and weak, and sad.
Thirty two years ago, a little 14 year old girl could not take her eyes off the swimmers. Human movement captivates me to this day. Follow your passion, see where it takes you! For me, it has taken me to places that level the playing field and I think that’s what I love most.
It’s not about what you look like. It’s not about what you have. It’s not about who you know. It’s about what you can do. It’s about hard work, commitment, and understanding that discomfort is a part of the game sometimes. The discomfort makes us tough, and strong, and enviable. It’s about reaching potential. Everyone gets to be a winner; all you have to do is get up.
Move, dear public, just move!
Well it is officially time to set a new goal!
My fitness has always been a priority for me. It is important for me to set an example as a fitness professional, but it also important for me to take good care of myself so that I can take good care of others. For the last five years, however, my fitness program has been centered around doing what it takes to manage pain and chronic fatigue. Eating right and exercising at lower intensity levels were required in order to combat chronic adrenal fatigue that was brought on by the emotional and physical toll of the harsh reality of life. To compound the struggle, I was also diagnosed with skin cancer earlier this year and I am plagued by cervical spine degeneration and cranky SI joint.
Throughout all of this, I knew exactly what I had to do to stay on my feet and working to support my family. I had to give up teaching group exercise, training for half marathons, and anything that required heavy lifting. I learned how to back off and rest. It was not an easy lesson for my hyperactive personality, but it was critical to my healing process. I did a lot of walking, structural strength in the weight room, and stretch/release work in order to come back strong.
The excellent news is that I can feel my strength and energy returning. I began teaching group cycle again after a three year break and each class brings a renewed love for the format, power in my legs, and an intense desire to get outside and ride. I am running again, too! I am slow and it is not for very long, but I finish with a big smile on my face because the joy is back and the pain is minimal in comparison to what I have dealt with in the past. I am swimming again. It is a time of peace and meditation for me and the movement keeps my neck loose and my shoulders strong. I am not going very far or fast yet, but I feel like a million bucks for the rest of the day after a swim.
Today I decided to sign up for a half iron-man triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.2 mile run). It has been on my bucket list for years. I need the motivation. I feel healthy enough now to take on the volume and intensity of training that will be required. I have a training partner committing to do it with me. We have five months to train. We are not trying to set any records or place in our age groups, we just want to do something different and train for a goal…just because. We are going to laugh our way through the saddle soreness, blisters, and freezing cold water temperatures. Most of all, its just going to be a heck of a lot of fun to get out in the fresh air and breathe again.
I think it is important to understand that life has a way of getting in the way of your dreams. That is okay, as long as you do not give up on them just because it gets a little complicated. Patience is the biggest gift that has come with the turbulence of the last half decade. Rolling with the punches and learning to adapt to the situation are valuable skills that hopefully will now assist me in the adventure of the next several months as I ramp up the workload and juggle responsibilities. I have been granted a wonderful opportunity to share that with others. I saw people working so hard and seeing awesome results. It was so hard not to be jealous of them. I kept reminding myself that my day would come.
It is my turn now and my hope is that others will join me.
To those of you who need rest, take it. Be patient and allow the body to heal. Fill it with healthy things that nourish, slow down and breathe, take days off, and know you will come back stronger for it.
Wherever you are in your fitness adventure, embrace it fully and smile, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Originally posted on www.mindbodyunlimited.com
Every 12 weeks, you should be changing something about your fitness program. For my clients, Labor Day signals the beginning of a new fall cycle. Summer is over, the kids are back in school and life is settling into routine – Now is the time to get back into the swing of things!
If you were active during the summer, great! All you have to do is change a few things and keep your fitness schedule this Fall.
Intensity - If you were doing mostly steady state cardio work, switch to some interval training several times per week. If you were doing a lot of interval or high speed stuff, switch to lower intensity and longer duration at least twice a week. Ditto with strength work. If you tend to go light with high reps, now is the time to increase the weight and back off the volume a little.
Mode - If you have been taking the same set of classes, sorry to say, but its time to switch out some of your favorites for a while. You can always go back in 12 weeks, and your body will thank you. If you only do Zumba, try a cycle or step class instead. If all you do is cycle, try a Total Body Conditioning Class to mix it up. The possibilities are endless and now is the time to join a class you have been meaning to try.
Exercise Selection - If you usually hop on a treadmill, switch to stairs. Ditto elliptical. Changing your movement pattern will change your body and keep joints healthy and fresh. The same thing goes with the weight room. There are hundreds of exercises to choose from, doing the same ones over and over will guarantee stagnation. Incorporate fun balance exercises into your strength work in order to maximize sculpting.
Nutrition - Summer was fun, but now its over. Obviously there is always room for improvement and change up in the diet. Remember, you are going to want to relax and enjoy the holidays, so now is a perfect time to clean it up and drop a few pounds.
If you fell off the wagon (hey, it was summer) then it is time to get back to it! Don’t let another Fall week go by without adding some type of fitness activity into your schedule. Any type of exercise will do since you haven’t been doing anything at all. Don’t try to do it all in one day, however! Ease into your fitness program slowly, stay consistent and allow your body to adapt to the new workload. You will be back at it in no time!
Article was originally published on Jerny Rieves’ website and has been republished on SmartFem with Jerny Rieves’ permission.
What is it about us that prevents us from living life to the fullest?
The easy answer is fear. It is true that giving life all of your effort may result in disappointment. It may result in heartache or financial setback or loss of pride. Loving life and people without reservation comes with risk, no question. It is easy to look around at those who are saving their energy, passion, material goods, and love for “someday.” However, when you admire a person, isn’t it usually because they aren’t holding back? They have what we only dream of because they were willing to risk it all.
We envy those who are out there having fun, living that life we long for, and having the relationships that seem so easy. We want what they have, yet we hesitate. We have our reasons, our doubts and our insecurities, but no one is ever successful without real risk. We have been hurt before, some of us very early in life. Sometimes our role models taught us how to save, keep, hoard and harbor.
It will require actual effort to overcome the fear. To jump off the cliff of safety, into the abyss of uncertainty, takes faith and strength. It is those who are willing to put their money, their heart and their energy on the line that are the most successful at this thing called life. We talk about someday, maybe, luck, and wishes, but they are actually out there doing what it takes.
If you want more out of life, if you want to skid into the grave with a smile, there are steps you need to take today. Here is a list of the daily efforts that reap the biggest rewards
• Forgive those who have hurt you. It is holding you back from what you want. They may not even know that pain that they have caused, so it is up to you to let it go.
• Tell the people in your life that you love them. Today, right now, go tell someone how much you care and how much they mean to you. If it isn’t reciprocated, that’s okay. It isn’t about receiving, its about letting your feeling be known so you can move forward unencumbered.
• Give of yourself. If you have money or resources, do not hold on to them. If you have talents, share them. If you have time, give it away. No one ever got to take their time and talents and money with them when they died. If we are to be judged at the end of our life, how do you want to be remembered? As stingy and selfish or as generous and thoughtful?
• Take a minute to count your blessings every morning. We get so wrapped up in what needs fixing that we forget to appreciate all the things that are wonderful about our lives. Start each day with an attitude of gratitude!
• Reach out and give a compliment, a pat on the back or a hug to someone who needs it. There is someone who is hurting more than you. Someone who is having a dark day or who struggles with fear and doubt. Be the light in someone else’s life on a daily basis.
• Finally, take calculated risks. Nothing foolish, just chances that you wouldn’t otherwise take. From the greatest risks come the greatest rewards. It would be sad to look back one day and say “if only.”
To live life fully means feeling all the emotions in the spectrum. Great joy and great sorrow. Yes, sorrow, because with every pain is a lesson that will teach us what we need to know to grow stronger. Those who live in fear never truly live, and that my friends, is a really sad thing to watch.
It is impossible to be completely happy if you are not healthy. It is impossible to be productive if you are not healthy. Most importantly, it is impossible for you to reach your full potential, if you are not healthy. Regardless of gender or socio-ecomonic background, we all have one thing in common: a hierarchy of needs.
As described by Maslow (1954), a hierarchy of needs is a pyramid which can be divided into basic (or deficiency) needs and growth needs (cognitive, aesthetics and self-actualization). He stated that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Maslow described self-actualized people as those who were fulfilled and doing all they were capable of. We understand this in other words as “reaching potential”.
If you desire to grow in any area of your life, your basic needs must be met before you can move up to the higher level of needs. Whether you aspire to achieve higher career goals, successful relationships, or personal accomplishments, the needs are the same. One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.
Problems are created and steps are taken backward in this process when the lower (more basic) needs are disrupted. For example, job loss or divorce can send someone back to the first two levels of needs that will then affect all of higher growth areas. We have seen this time and time again in our own lives as well of those around us. We get frustrated because we think we should be achieving success (many times as defined by others) however our security and survival must always come first.
Among this first level is your health. If you are not functioning physiologically at an optimal level, it affects your sense of self esteem and personal success, which in turn makes it impossible to move up the hierarchy. Most of us have our food and shelter provided, but what about sleep, medical conditions, aches and pains? These are ground floor needs! Taking care of your needs means taking care of your self mentally and physically. Only then can you begin to realize your full potential.
Where do you fit on the pyramid? Where would you like to be? Can you organize your life in such a way that you put the bottom level needs higher on the priority list? We all want to be happy, some of us want to achieve a self actualized state, however only 1 in 100 people successfully obtain and maintain the self actualized state. Why? Because American society has taught us to focus on “things as needs”.
‘What we have’ has become more important that ’who we are’. We are more concerned with accumulating wealth and power than cultivating relationships and understanding what makes us feel secure. I could write all day on this subject, but I think it is up to each one of us to individually decide what we want and who we want to become. Then simplify life in such a way that ensures our base of support is healthy so we can grow into the self actualized individual that we all admire.
Characteristics of self-actualizers:
• They perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty;
• Accept themselves and others for what they are;
• Spontaneous in thought and action;
• Problem-centered (not self-centered);
• Unusual sense of humor;
• Able to look at life objectively;
• Highly creative;
• Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely unconventional;
• Concerned for the welfare of humanity;
• Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience;
• Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people;
• Peak experiences;
• Need for privacy;
• Democratic attitudes;
• Strong moral/ethical standards.
Receipts litter our drawers, old mail sits on our counters, clothes we haven’t worn for years hang in our closets and emails with no further purpose clog our inbox. Check the garage or the basement..oh my! What is it about stuff that is so hard to let go of?
Hanging on to things we will never use, and information that is outdated has some negative repercussions that extend far beyond just being messy. Is it just throw back to our post depression era parents, or is there something else going on?
It’s called baggage. Physical clutter leads to distraction and clouded thinking. Having things that don’t matter keeps us from maximizing the present and focusing on the future, because the past surrounds us on all sides. Most of the time, we don’t even realize it is there. It weighs us down and keeps us from moving forward, literally and figuratively.
Perhaps we don’t want to let go because at one time we hung on to those things. They brought us joy and they are a reminder of better times. Perhaps we don’t want to let go of the person associated or the era that is long gone. Everyone has different reasons for hanging on to stuff.
At some point, we realize it is too much, but the task is overwhelming and it isn’t until we move that we realize how much stuff we have. Some people just carry it from place to place, but it’s unhealthy – moving through life efficiently and with purpose becomes impossible.
Clearing the clutter takes effort, but is necessary . It starts with the decision to begin the task. Here are some tips for how to work toward a life that is full of abundance, but not full of stuff:
1. Pick one room or area at a time. Give yourself a certain amount of time to clear it, and stick to it. I recommend starting with you email boxes. It’s easy and there is a tremendous amount of freedom that follows. File the important stuff in clearly marked files for easy access. Check the boxes for all the rest and do it…hit delete. If it is negative mail you have been hanging on to, this is probably the healthiest thing you have ever done for yourself. DELETE IT.
2. Get organized. Put a box somewhere prominent that is marked “give away” first. As you go through each room. Fill it with things that are in good condition and useful to others. It feels good to know that someone else will benefit from your ability to let go.
3. Throw it away. We feel wasteful if we throw stuff away. Garbage is garbage. If you are not going to use it or wear it, and no one else will want it either, pitch it. If you can’t, get someone else to do it for you. Rule of thumb, if you haven’t used it in several years, the chances are you won’t ever again. It may have seemed like a good idea and you may have spent a lot of money on it, but everything loses value over time, accept it.
4. Eliminate paper. Grab the recycling bin. Scan copies of important documents or create hard copy folders and organize 1 filing cabinet to keep it in. Get rid of the rest. If it isn’t taxes or legal documents, you don’t really need it in paper form. Start getting your bills electronically, and keep sticky notes only until you can get that address or to do list into your planner or smart phone. Then pitch it. Get someone to put your pictures in albums or scan them on to your hard drive. Any pictures of ex’s should be tossed, your current love will thank you.
Do not underestimate the power of letting “stuff” go. It isn’t useful and it is downright harmful for many of us. Getting rid of things and moving on doesn’t minimize the importance of people, times, events and places that are precious to you. It means you are a grown up that understands that memories are in your head, not your closet.
Hang on to the memories, get rid of the junk!
Many of us take nutritional supplements to improve our health and as an “insurance policy” against poor dietary choices. We think we are going something good for our body, right? Think again! If you haven’t read the label on the pills you are taking, please do! Many of the supplements out there are full of fillers and binding agents to make manufacturing and processing cheaper and easier for the companies that mass produce these products. These companies are banking (heavily) on the uninformed consumer.
One of these substances is called magnesium stearate. It is formed by adding a magnesium ion to stearic acid. The compound has lubricating properties, which is why it’s often used in the making of supplements, as it allows the machinery to run faster and smoother, and prevents the pills or capsules from sticking to each other.
Research has shown that stearic acid suppresses T cells, your natural killer cells, which are a key component of your immune system. Stearic acid can also cause the collapse of cell membrane integrity which, ultimately, can destroy cell function.
This filler also stimulates your gut to form a biofilm. Biofilms are a sort of sludge lining that acts as a barrier to the absorption of not only that particular vitamin but ALL the nutrients you’d normally get from food sources as well.
Naturally, when you take vitamins and other supplements, you do it with the idea of strengthening your immune system. However, if you take supplements containing magnesium stearate, you could end up doing the exact opposite as you’re actually consuming chalk-like substance with each dose you take.
I do believe that dietary supplements, including vitamins and minerals, can help compensate for what is lacking in the American diet. However, it’s not wise to use supplements to justify eating crap. In my experience no amount of supplements will ever be able to substitute for healthy food choices.
If you are going to spend the money on supplements, I strongly recommend you make whole food supplements your first choice, and steer clear of synthetic vitamins. How do you tell whether or not a supplement you’re looking at is a good choice? Ask questions and read labels!
For starters, make sure it has the following characteristics:
- It is as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form.
- Use independent third party labs that check the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage.
- Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
- The utmost care has been taken in all phases of its production, from growing its ingredients, to manufacturing, testing for potency and quality control.
- As this article states, avoid any supplement that uses magnesium stearate. Read the labels carefully as companies need to declare it if they use it, but it is in very tiny print and you might need a magnifying lens to read it.