Eating A Balanced Diet

Choosing healthy foods can be confusing. Especially when we are so removed from where our food comes from and how it is grown. It is important to start with the basics and learn how to balance your diet.

Food can be confusing. I advocate a diet without labeled foods (whole foods) and eating an abundance of colors (fruits and vegetables). If you must read a label, choose a small ingredient list (listed from most to least). Try to avoid processed foods with long ingredient lists, especially if the majority of the list you cannot pronounce, and those full of artificial flavors and colors.

Fat and carbs are not the bad guys, they are simply fuel for our bodies. Protein has a nutritional benefit; however, it can cause problems if taken in great quantities. An educated consumer has the means to make wonderful food choices each day. We have a plethora of foods available to us, more than at any other time in history. Educate yourself about food so you understand what you are putting in your body, because you are what you eat – for better or worse.

In the next few weeks we’ll look at carbs, protein, and fats individually so you’ll have the tools you’ll need to make educated food choices

What Does Organic Mean

Many people are more and more confused when it comes to food choices. The majority of Americans are increasingly concerned about nutrition and pesticides. Many base their food choices on what is in or on them. This has led to an explosion in the organic food market, and to increasingly more confusing food labels.

Studies repeatedly show the foods we eat today are not as nutrient packed as they were in the past. According to food-navigator.com, “Changes in agriculture during the last 50 years include the widespread use of pesticides, plant growth regulators, and highly soluble sources of plant nutrients, along with decreased use of humus-containing fertilizers.” Due to certain farming methods, mass planting of a single crop, and transporting foods over long distances, crops have been made to withstand depletion of soil, long journeys from vine to table, and have been bred to handle lots of handling. All this translates into less nutrients for us.

Many are willing to pay more than fifty percent more for organic food. Organic food markets have begun to grow at approximately twenty percent each year. This means organic food prices and selections have gotten better, but how do you know if you are getting organic? When confronted with the enormous amount of options how do we make good choices and not throw up our hands in overwhelming frustration? Getting educated about labels will help you make the best food choices.

Deciphering labels:
An article in the Seattle Times outlined the following label definitions:

● If the product is labeled “100 percent organic” it means that, by law, there are no synthetic ingredients. Also, production processes must meet federal organic standards and must have been independently verified by accredited inspectors.

● If the label says, simply, “organic,” no less than 95 percent of the ingredients must have been organically produced. And if it’s labeled “Made with Organic Ingredients,” you can be sure that at least 70 percent of its makeup is organic. The remaining ingredients must come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approved list.

● Labels that specify “natural” or “all natural” do not mean organic. The reason is that no standard definition for these terms exists, except when it’s applied to meat and poultry products, which the USDA defines as not containing any artificial flavoring, colors or synthetic ingredients. The terms “free-range” or “free-roaming” are similarly meaningless. U.S. government standards are weak. The rule for the label’s use on poultry products, for example, is merely that outdoor access be available for “an undetermined period each day.”

● Labeling seafood “organic” is also misleading, since the USDA has not yet developed organic-certification standards.

Why does organic cost so much more than conventionally grown foods? Organically grown foods are usually produced on much smaller farms. These farms do not receive subsidies from the government and they must follow much stricter guidelines when growing, harvesting, transporting, and storing foods. Many shy away from organic foods because they feel they cannot afford them. It is possible to eat nutritiously on a budget, I know, I do it. It takes patience as you learn to read labels and understand which foods to choose. If you have to select from both conventional and organic foods on your regular shopping list apply the following ideas.

● 1st – Buy as much organic or locally grown as possible. The farmers market season is just around the corner-we have two great ones in town. Better yet try growing your own. The Broadway Community Garden is beginning! Free plots, help, and support is here in Superior! Call: Theresa at 218-727-4820 for more information.
● 2nd – Shop the perimeter of the supermarket. Whole foods or foods with the least amount of processing will help, but get educated on companies – learn how they treat the animals or what types of growing they do.
● 3rd – Avoid the dirty dozen. These are 12 fruits and vegetables that have high levels of residue on them: apples, bell peppers, spinach, celery, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, raspberries, and strawberries. Although, scientists have trouble connecting all the dots between disease and long term, small dose exposure to pesticides, there is evidence that we have more in our bodies today than in the past. This is especially important for expectant mothers and small children, as proportionally they end up with more in their systems. There is also some concern over the combined effects of different pesticides in our systems even in low doses.
● 4th – Learn to read labels. Choose foods with small ingredient lists, avoid the “bad” fats, and learn what the ingredients are. Try to not to eat foods with lots of unpronounceable things in them, artificial colors, flavors, and lots of salt or sugar.

Hopefully, you have a better and not worse idea of what to put on your grocery list next time you shop – your body will thank you for choosing wisely.

Resources:
www.foodnavigator-usa.com ~ www.mydna.com ~ www.seattletimes.nwsouce.com ~ www.shns.com
Whole Foods Market ~ Whole Foods Co-Op, Duluth, MN

Heat and Exercise – Be Safe During Hot Weather Exercising

Summer has arrived, and with its sweet smells, lazy afternoons, and longer days comes heat. Just like it doesn’t have to be freezing to experience hypothermia, temperatures don’t have to be soaring to experience heat related illnesses, especially while working out.

Workouts are still possible even when the mercury rises if you take precautions. First, layer your clothing. No, this does not equal the same type of laying we must do in January, however plan for the spaces you’ll be exercising in. Will the temperature drop or rise while you are there – think about elevation or forest conditions – as we move through different types of spaces we may need different types of clothing. Once, you’ve determined if you’ll need a light jacket, short sleeves, socks, boots vs athletic shoes, you will need to chose good products. Materials are not created equal, which is why we do not see many wool socks worn in the summer. Chose materials that move sweat away from your body allowing it to more effectively do its job. Once, again I am amazed at the intelligence of your body, but we will discuss that below. Then look to design. Not all styles are created equal either. Many of us get overwhelmed by the choices, however choosing good design will keep you from packing or carrying loads of stuff. Very important when its your back and legs doing the transporting. Do your homework. If you are uncomfortable using a sales person as your teacher, grab magazines or look to the internet to find the latest and greatest gear. Make sure to check pricing, too. Gear gets expensive and you may be paying more than you need to. Do some comparisons before you settle.

Second, hydrate yourself well. Sweating is important to the body. Sweat is necessary because your body produces water as a by product of our aerobic energy system. If you are going to do work over an extended period of time your body will produce sweat as it uses oxygen to function. Sweat also works as air-conditioner. As your body moves the by-product to the exterior surface, your skin, it creates evaporation, which cools the body. Also, a necessary function during extended work periods because as you create more movement, you create more heat. As your core temperature rises your body will work to maintain its natural set-point, plus its dangerous when your core temperature rises too far. Some of us sweat more than others and there seems to be a genetic link. As your body sweats it will also lose salt. Another important necessity for homeostasis.

When working out during hot weather drink lots of fluids, and make sure to feed your body well. If you are going to be working out over a long period of time, more than 60-90 minutes fuel up with a sports drink or something to replace lost electrolytes. They make great food gear, too. For those of you looking forward to events, you may look to energy products: bars, gels, goos, and other high-glycemic options to sustain your optimal performance. For the average person however, high-tech food choices are not necessary in most cases. Water and nutritious foods are what your body craves to perform most workouts effectively.

Third, think. If the temperature is too high, this is not an excuse button, do something else and workout when it is cooler. Its not a great idea to wear a non-ventilated hat, as sixty percent of your body heat is released through the top of your head.
Plan for your outing so your food and clothing provisions last through the whole workout, and pay attention to how your body responds to heat. We are all different and have different tolerances to heat and humidity. If you are packing children, please remember that their smaller developing bodies respond differently than adults to heat and do not cool the same, so keep them in mind as you pack clothing, plan for stops, and utilize shade throughout the workouts. Sunscreen is a must these days and many brands are designed for workouts. Check labels when you buy. If you do feel any signs of a heat related illness, stop your activity immediately. Temperature related illnesses quickly get worse. Try to find shade, hydrate your body, and do something to cool your body down; i.e. Remove excess clothing, dose yourself with water, rest, etc.

Your workouts do not have to end because the temperature rises. Dress, eat, and plan well and your body and spirit will soar as you discover great ways to get moving!

20 Things to Do This Summer

Summer time is the perfect time to get outside and get active. Here are some ideas on what to do to keep moving toward your perfect health.

  1. Go for a walk – fast enough but you can still check out the flowers
  2. Grab a friend and run
  3. Take a bike ride
  4. Hike a new trail
  5. Backpack and camp
    or just camp any old way – tent, RV, or car
  6. Water ski or wakeboard
  7. Go fishing
  8. Climb a tree
  9. Walk a round of golf
  10. Kayak or canoe
  11. Enter an event – find local 5k, 10k, triathlons, and other races – even if you are on vacation!
  12. Build a fort
  13. Climb trees
  14. Plant a garden – or participate in a community garden. You could also help a neighbor weed, plant, and harvest.
  15. Push mow your grass
  16. Play flashlight tag
  17. Catch fireflies
  18. Swim
  19. Join the kids on the playground and play just as hard
  20. And most of all … make sure to laugh, smile, and enjoy yourself

Losing Weight The Healthy Way

Here is how healthy weight loss works. Extra weight is just fuel you’ve put into your tank and didn’t use up. You consumed extra calories without burning them.

Calories(kcal) in MUST EQUAL calories out to MAINTAIN your current weight. This means if you want to lose weight the healthy way you must figure out how to create a deficit. In other words calories in MUST BE LESS THAN calories out to LOSE weight.

We can cut our food intake or increase our daily calorie needs (movement or exercise). To lose weight the healthy way create a plan which combines the two. By limiting food calories and adding more exercise to your daily routine it is easier to create enough of a calorie deficit without compromising your energy or health.

For example: Cut 500kcals from your daily intake (about two 20-oz bottles of soda) and increase your exercise by 300kcals per day (30-60 min of activity depending). This creates an 800kcals deficit per day. If you could do this 5 days a week you would expend an extra 4,000kcals per week. To lose a pound of fat you must burn 3,500kcals. So under this plan you should be losing at least 1 pound a week.

Some words of caution.
Food is not the enemy – load up on nutrient dense foods (foods with low calories and lots of vitamins + nutritionist). Healthy weight loss is approximently 1-2 pounds per week. It took time to put the weight on it’ll take time to take it off. Do not cut your calories too low. Less is not always more. See a nutritionist for help. Not eating enough will put your body in conserve mode. This backfires on weight loss because instead of letting go of calories your body will slow functions down to conserve calories. You won’t be getting the workouts because you are likely to be more tired and possibly more sick. This is not where you want your healthy weight loss program to be.

Obesity Rates Are Rising

Many people are trying to lose weight. This is no surprise as more than 60% of our population is overweight and obesity has become one of the top health concerns, even surpassing smoking. But unlike smoking, weight gain may not have been 100% personal decision.

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

First, food company marketing budgets are huge. Companies spend a lot of money figuring out how to sell their products. Small, local farmers selling non-patented things like vegetables don’t stand a chance in the marketing arena. However, we still have choices, and we need to make good choices about what we eat.

Second, we are busy people. Many have been removed from their food supply for more than a generation and have no idea how or where their food is grown or created. Until recently I had no idea you could make cheesecake in your own kitchen! We’ve been duped by our trusting nature giving away power in our food choices just because it was packaged good, tasted close enough, and was easy. Unfortunately, these choices have allowed us to take in extra calories without expending more – ta-da extra weight.

Third, portion sizes are bigger than ever before. This portion growth happened over time and many have no idea what a good portion size is anymore. This portion distortion causes us to overeat just because it the food is sitting on our plate.

The above reasons aren’t so you can blame big industry, your job, or restaurants for extra weight you carry. Instead look at them as educational tools. Now that you know these problems are contributing – how are you going to change your eating choices?

How To Lose Weight With Healthy Eating

Fresh Fruit

In my last blog posting I talked about some reasons obesity is rising in our country. Although, these are not meant to be excuses for extra pounds it is helpful to understand how we got to this point so we can make better choices now.

Understand that marketing is a business meant to make money both for companies represented and the marketers. When looking at products look beyond packaging – even if it has fruit on the package it doesn’t mean it is really in the food contained within. Pay attention to how the packaging caught your attention – was it a commercial, a reward, a celebrity, a promise? This will give you insight into your own buying behavior and allow you to step back from habitual choices. Become an educated consumer.

Learn how to eye ball portions sizes. Split your meal when it arrives putting anything above a portion in a takeout box. This will allow you to maximize your money and keep your waist line under control. In addition, begin to put extras on the side so you can control how much goes on. For example, salad dressing and condiments can add calories quickly, but if you put them on the side you can dip your fork with each bite for plenty of flavor and a lot less calories in your belly. Blacken, bake, broil, steam, and grill your meats and veggies. Treat yourself to fresh, in season, fruits instead of baked and smothered desserts. Add veggies to your sandwiches and burgers.

Basic portion sizes are: Meats – the size of your palm
Cheese – a pair of dice
1 cupped handful – 1/2 cup
Both cupped hands – 1 cup
8-oz drinks – your fist

Aim for a balanced plate each meal – carbs, protein, and fats. Reduce your meat portion and add an extra veggie or fruit instead. Eat a rainbow of foods with each meal. The more colors on your plate the more nutrients and vitamins you are getting. Try these tips to lose weight with healthy eating.

5 Ways to better life balance. Balance your life responsibilities

On Monday we looked at our lives subjectively. Are there areas I feel out of balance and I can I see ways to change. On Wednesday we took an objective look at how we spend our time and decided if how we spend the majority of our time is how we want to spend the majority of our time. Today we look at 5 ways to manifest better balance into our lives.

Once you have determined areas of your life you want to change it is easy to blame why you don’t change on others:

  • My kids need too much
  • My significant other doesn’t want to eat healthy
  • I have too much to do
  • I am taking care of my parents
    the list could go on.

The bottom line is – change is hard, there is a reason you are caught in the patterns you are caught in, and if you really want your life to look different you will have to figure out ways to make that happen. Small steps can make that happen.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Write down your goals
  2. Delegate – are there jobs you do (laundry, cleaning, cooking, errands, car pooling) that others could do. Hint: they will do it differently than you and that is ok.
  3. Create some boundaries. Do you need to tell people no more often – “no I can’t cook X for the upcoming pot-luck”, “no I can’t coach soccer this fall”. Get clear about what you want. This is critical to honoring yourself and others in your actions. Be kind, open, and honest when turning down offers and be ready for resistance from people who are used to hearing yes.
  4. Create a goal poster – clip pictures of your life vision and set the intention to achieve them. Place it where you will see it often everyday.
  5. Commit to live with intention. In each moment ask yourself if this is what you want to be doing/thinking and honestly listen for the answer. When you find yourself answering no decide what you do want to be doing and make efforts to move in that direction.

    These are not suggestions to shrink from life responsibilities. All of us would rather be doing something else at times but by listening to what you would rather be doing you begin to see a pattern of what is working and what is not working in your life. By visualizing what you want you are better able to recognize activities which might move you in that direction. In doing those activities more often you are more likely to get the life you want one step at a time.

Your Life – In Balance. How to Find Life Balance

If you checked out Monday’s blog I hope you did some thinking over the last few days about where you might want to create better balance in your life. And if you feel pretty balanced right now you may want to think about strategies to keep it that way. Life has a tendency to cycle and the more tools you have in your toolshed to better able you’ll be to handle any curve balls thrown at you.

Here is an exercise I like to do in workshops to help create a visual of where life may be out of whack. I usually do it as part of a long workshop (more than 2 hours) so take some time with it and see what comes up for you.

Materials Needed:
Large piece of paper – make it work for you
Crayons, markers, or colored pencils – at least 3-5+ different colors
Some quiet time to think

Fold your paper into four quadrants – you can also use the back if your paper is small.
Across the top list your major areas in your life – give each its own color, for example:

  1. Work
  2. Home
  3. Me Time
  4. Social
  5. Spiritual
    1. etc – put as many labels in as needed to get a complete picture of your life obligations.

In the top left square – using a different color for each activity (work, home, me time, social, spiritual, etc) place your average daily schedule – from the time you wake up till the time you go to bed. Mine might look like this:
6am – wake up (me time – red)
6:30 – yoga (spiritual – green)
7 – breakfast (home – purple)
7:30 – shower (me-red)
8:00 – leave house (work – orange)
and on throughout my day – each activity has a connection to a larger area of my life and is colored coded accordingly.

In the bottom left quadrant draw a circle – using the visual of a clock (but don’t use the actual time numbers as your segments) begin to fill in the number of hours you spend in each major area of your life.
This may sound a bit confusing – but the idea is to take an honest look at how much one area dominates your life.
I like to start with one area
Count the hours I spend “doing” in that area
And color all my hours in one block – so I end up with a neatly shaded pie
Each color representing a different life area, and each area/color a different slice. It soon becomes clear which slices/areas dominate my life and which are lacking. In the above example I would have:
1 hour – me time
1/2 hour – household
1/2 hour – Exercise
1/2 hour – work

Once you have completed this exercise it is easy to repeat every so often to determine an objective look at how you use your time and what areas of life are controlling the majority of you. This objective look creates space for you to determine if the activities you spend the majority of your time on are the ones you want to be spending the majority of your time on and better able to make changes accordingly.

Health is More Than Just Physical

As I enjoy a much needed summer break I thought I would focus on wellness this week. Being healthy isn’t just about being physically fit. In fact, that is only part of the equation.

Being healthy has many layers. Wellness can be thought of as a wheel (think pie – sorry to be using food but it works!) encompassing such things as career, relationships, and culture (the slices). It is important to examine each area to understand where you may be losing energy and in need of better balance (one slice is huge and the others slivers)

Although, my background deals mainly with physical health I can’t ignore the impact the other areas of wellness have played in my personal training clients’ success or failures.

Do you feel out of balance in any areas of your life? Have you thought about how they might be effecting your efforts to be more physically healthy? For example: Do they impact your food choices, your exercise habits, or your motivation and confidence levels?

After noticing how these imbalances are effecting you can you see ways to change and stop patterns of behavior? Sometimes just noticing can be so powerful the choice to changes becomes easy. Other times it may be incredibly difficult to change even though it becomes obvious you are self-defeating the hard work you are doing (or have done) to live more healthy.

Take some time today to notice the impact other areas of your life may be having on your physical health. In our next posting we’ll look at ways to bring better balance to life.