Jun 23

Under Pressure

Does Queen’s song, “Under Pressure,” pop into anyone else’s head with this title? I can’t help play the tune in my mind while drafting this post. And on that note, what does this song have to do with health? A lot.

Do you feel pressure when you ask yourself how your health is? Do you either immediately think of your waistline and if it’s a measure you want, or maybe focus in on some labs you had done most recently? When I ask myself this, I do a little of both, I think of my latest diabetic labs, including my fasting blood sugar and A1C% and also how I feel. With the latter part of that question, I include my thoughts on my weight. Am I alone? I am afraid not, as many of us are on  diet, or attempting one. Granted I just had a child, my second, I still have a weight loss goal, and know how hard it is to lose the lbs I put on in 9 months. As for my labs, my latest A1C% (which is a measure of an average blood sugar over the last 3 months) was a 5.6%; which is pretty darn good. But I want better.

Yet, above all, regardless of where our health is, why do many of us self impose pressure to be at a “better” place than where we are currently? It’s funny really. When I counsel clients I provide nutrition advice, lifestyle habits to improve on, and lastly, to be kind to oneself.

If I were to listen in on some internal conversations that we have with ourselves, I am afraid I’d be confused whether or not we like ourselves. All in all, let’s break down this pressure we consume ourselves with and learn better steps to get to where we want.

Does everyone relate to this post? No, but maybe we all do or did at one time.

Let’s begin with simplifying things.

fam

“The very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.” The Dali Lama

Agree? If so, feeling good, having an optimal quality of life, tucks right into this. So take each day one at a time, and strive to not overthink our food and drink choices, our gym membership, etc. Focus on what is best for us ay hand and in the long-term for happiness. Life is not a promised timeframe, it’s what we had yesterday, hold today and hope for tomorrow. We need to use our time wisely and have no regrets, large or small.

“Eat only when hungry and drink only when thirsty.” Maimonides

Common sense, eh? Yes, but we have lost our ability to do just this around the age of 3 years old. A study done on 5 year old children showed that at this age, most kids ate a plate of macaroni they were served, bypassing hunger cues. When trialed with younger pupils around the age of 3, the kids naturally stopped when they had enough.

Intuitive eating is a practice to be learned again. We should not eat by the clock, use food as entertainment or be swayed by advertisements. We need to know the difference between a craving and true hunger. Again, easier said than done. But little steps and effort can go a long way. Start small with something like thoroughly chewing food. Put down the utensil between each bite, take smaller bites. Goodness, lets eat everything with chop sticks! Too far? Maybe, but I have clients who try to do this at meals eaten at home.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can, 

and the courage to know the difference.” Serenity Prayer

Self love my friends. Religious or not, this statement is strong. Indeed on my phone camera I have an image with this quote, and for example, if I am mellow over a blood sugar that won’t move into an ideal range, I say this prayer. When I do I feel a lot better. Maybe this quote doesn’t tick for you, but find an affirmation that does, and capture it somewhere and say it when needed.

In closing, let’s remove the stress we create. As my mom always says, “don’t invite worry,” and keep thoughts positive or constructive and enjoy the journey of wellness.

Jun 04

Lose Weight Naturally and Healthily

This is a bold title. If weight loss was a matter of understanding a top 3 tip list, then you would probably not be reading this post right now. It’s hard, complicated, confusing and not a one size fits all approach. But with the tidbits I am going to list will help all people in the journey of losing pounds; and surely it is NOT a formula of calories in (eaten) = calories out (exercise).

Chicago Dietitian

Chicago Nutritionist

Chicago RD

Tip #1 – Eat foods ideal for a hormonal/metabolic response in the body.

What does this mean? We want to make meals and snacks from foods that do not cause an insulin/blood sugar spike nor inflammation. What foods does this mean to avoid? Obvious ingredients such as processed foods, man-made oils, vegetable oils, sugar, gluten containing grains, and all grains for some, dairy for some, GMO foods, conventional protein, to name a few. It’s hard to tell what foods we are each individually sensitive to, thus this proves to be one negotiable reason to do an elimination diet, following a paleo template by eating foods of only clean protein (wild seafood, grassfed meat, organic poultry, pasture-raised eggs), heaps of vegetables, including starchy forms like yams, sweet potatoes and the likes, fruit, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats from olive oil, coconut oil, lard, bacon grease and avocado. Once the lapse of time is up, reintroduce avoided foods, dairy, grains gluten free versions and gluten full grains and legumes and assess how the foods affect digestion, sleep, energy, mental clarity and mood to determine if it’s a good fit for you or not.

Tip #2 – Focus on quality over quantity.

I was listening to a podcast yesterday, The Paleo View, and the hosts were elaborating on how other (healthier) countries spend more on food and less on healthcare, vs the U.S. stance on spending more money on healthcare compared to our cheap food supply. What does this indicate? While it does not prove a causal relationship it’s interesting to consider when we are forced to spend more on our food, perhaps we appreciate it more and make better choices. Just a thought, and indeed this is something I brought to light when I lived in Australia where food was much pricier than a grocery run here in the States. Yet, let’s hit directly on this tip. What do I mean by quality over quantity. Do you know anyone who lost weight by eating 100 cal packs? I do. But can I vouch they sustained that weight loss? I am afraid not. When we want to lose weight, we need to choose healthy ingredients, including foods that are rich in nutrition, protein, fat and fiber. Many of my clients come to our first session a bit fat-phobic, and I have to help them feel comfortable in adding more fat items to their meals, enabling satiety and happiness from their food. As well, protein is very important. We need a base of it at each meal to help keep us sustained for hours. Lastly, when and if budget allows, sourcing produce that is organic (I recommend following a dirty dozen/clean 15 list), high quality protein, clean dairy (organic, grassfed, raw, and only if one tolerates it) can also enhance nutrition in one’s diet. Lastly, losing weight is not about tracking every bite of food in a journal or app. It’s not about hitting an exact calorie target. It’s about eating a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates and growing an intuition of understanding what our body craves and needs. We are naturally inclined to eat ideal portions of protein, where we could use more structure on carbs and fat. To know what can work, think about what your body wants. If it’s ice-cream, dig deeper to understand what can fill that craving. Perhaps it’s an emotional void, perhaps you need more fat in your diet. Work to understand what your body needs.

Tip #3 – Being health is a journey, and bring a water bottle!

One of the easiest things we can do is drink more water. Hydrate throughout throughout the day and keep water handy wherever you may be. And understand health is a journey. If we take 2 steps forward and one step back, that is success. Enjoy the ride because life is short and food is pleasure.

Jun 02

Food For Thought: Spirulina

I had a business counter-part email me last week about the perks of spirulina. He had a client touting the benefits of the ingredient and wanted to know if it was worth investing. Beyond the facts in the graphic below, I suggested yes. I especially use it with vegetarian clients, those with blood sugar variation and more. All in all, though, with anything healthy it can be overdone.

My favorite way to use and consume spiraulina is adding it to a vegetable and berry smoothie. More tidbits can be found from this industry site. Have a healthy and fit day!

https://nuts.com/cookingbaking/powders/spirulina/

https://nuts.com/cookingbaking/powders/spirulina/

May 27

Summer Meal/Salad Ideas

I am craving more variety in my meals with loads of produce to help nourish my body and soon-to-be daughter. I was playing with Yummly and selected the following for inspiration. Perhaps you can enjoy too and you will likely need a Yummly login to access some of the recipes.

A salad with cinnamon? Why not?

What a fun idea for a summer BBQ right? Or perhaps if you are short on time, like I will be with 2 little ones, I may toss all the above in a bowl and call it a day. Fun idea, nonetheless.

This extra serving of gluten free grains will be helpful in keeping my carbs up for breastfeeding. Looks tasty!

I’d make this recipe but omit the sugar. Perhaps swap in lemon juice instead? I’d have to play with it, but a great way to add detoxifying onions to my diet.

May 21

Five Fitness Trends That Might Actually Be Worth Trying

 

(Guest Post)activities in Chicago and beyond

For many of us, finding ways to stay active starts with getting motivated to actually embark on the journey of getting back into shape. This often times is one of the hardest part, especially if your previous workout experiences left you bored and exhausted. If you’re tired of monotonous exercise routines that follow the same order and routine, break away from videos and one-option fitness guides and try something new.

In this article, we will explore five fitness trends which are gaining in popularity which will not only leave you in much better shape, but get you there in new, revitalized ways which yield higher motivation to stick with it! If you haven’t tried these new fitness trends yet, consider giving them a whirl. Some may require memberships to facilities that have the appropriate equipment or trainers, but in this list there should be something for everybody.

  1. Obstacle Course Racing

While obstacle course races have been around for quite a few years now, they are becoming more popular than ever. From mild resistance races like the Warrior Dash (typically 5k) to grueling races such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Race (upwards of 12 miles with over 20 obstacles), there is a growing variance of these races which allows for beginners up to fitness gurus to all have opportunities to grow. These races encourage training regiments that focus on high-level cardio exercise, as well as strength training as both will be required to successfully complete these obstacle races. If your daily run is stagnant and you’re hoping to find an end-goal to train for, consider signing up for an obstacle race coming near you. If you are not already at the level of fitness required for such a race, allow for at least 12 weeks to train (and many of these races even provide training modules for you to utilize).

  1. Aerial Fitness

Aerial fitness is a newer trend gaining in popularity. By utilizing a hammock by which you hang, your body is able to take on shapes and exact maneuvers that otherwise would not be possible. Aside from a tremendous core workout, because of the unique nature of this equipment, you will have the opportunity to utilize both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle building to deliver even more effective gains. A simple online search should help you find if any locations that offer this fitness movement are near you. Variations including yoga and other forms of movement can be incorporated, as well.

  1. High Tech At-Home Fitness

If that stairclimber you bought five years ago serves solely as a clothes rack in your basement next to the washing machine now, we have good news. At-home fitness is stepping into a higher level of technology to ensure that you have the opportunity to stay fit and motivated from your own house. If your work schedule leaves it difficult to get to a gym or a 24 hour fitness building isn’t in your town, working out at home can feel like your only option. Enter Peloton. Peloton is an at-home fitness bike that streams live classes from the New York studio and even includes the fitness data of other class participants so you can compete from home. By utilizing this technology, Peloton not only operates on your schedule, it provides the motivating factor many of us need to push ourselves when, otherwise, no one would be looking.

  1. Trampoline Fitness

Similar to the idea of aerial fitness, this movement seeks to introduce a level of spontaneity into your fitness regiment through the atypical workouts trampolines provide. While this fitness trend has had a worldwide following for a few years now, it is only beginning to take hold in the United States. Luckily, while the first official Jumping Fitness gym isn’t slated to open for a few more months in New York City, there are numerous online routines which you can utilize on your very own trampoline. Now you can turn your kids’ toy into your next workout and the continual movement is excellent at torching calories, allowing for a high-speed set of exercises that utilize less impact than typical jump-based movements.

  1. Competition Based Fitness Courses

If you haven’t investigated competitive fitness classes, now is the time. Programs like the most well-known program CrossFit not only introduce a variety of workouts which allow you to stay mentally engaged while physically pushing yourself, the courses very purposefully rely on your competitive nature to push you to work harder than you would in a tradition, partnerless workout routine. Through competition based courses you not only find yourself working harder, you also create accountability with others to stay the course. Between the ever-evolving exercises and the communal sense of teamwork, your likelihood to drop out diminishes.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who is trying to be healthier this year. She currently writes for AEDs Today, a leading supplier of automatic external defibrillators.

Apr 30

Just Do It

I honestly can’t think of a better slogan than Nike’s “Just Do It.” It eludes to many things, but simplifies the action for one to get up and go – run, sign up for a race, try something new, enjoy an active lifestyle, etc.

But what if they replaced the word “It” with exercise? Ahh, no bueno. Exercise feels like I am barking an order or a chore. So, how does any of this relate to you and I? Yes, well done Nike, but the point I want to make is when we think about exercise or talk about it, or even put it on our to-do list, we need to keep it positive. And what ticks for one, may not tick for all.

For me – I like to label my exercise as a workout or hobby. And what lies under this changes just as does our mood and the season. I talk about this often with my nutrition clients, so can easily recall what I’ve enjoyed over the last dozen months. I fully embraced tennis as soon as I could postpartum with my first. Man did it make me feel like a teenager again. And the gals I did a weekly class with, made me feel like I was on a team! It was awesome, and indeed I credit my 90 minute tennis lesson per week to my decent shape of running Chicago’s 10 miler in May 2014. Next though, I wanted to move on so I didn’t lose the enjoyment of tennis and fully engaged in pilates and soaked up yoga. Come Fall, I fell pregnant and the strict and intense pilates teacher told me to move onto something else until I had better technique or no bun in the oven. One, I can’t be perfect at everything right?! At least I was trying something new. And, two, I wasn’t going to let this push-back hold me back from being active. Next, I joined aqua aerobics. And guess what, I loved it so much I got my AFAA Group Fitness Certification in March so I can teach it post arrival of baby #2. All things happen for a reason, eh? Nonetheless, you can see I participated in a variety of activities and I believe this is one tactic to be successful in enjoying an active lifestyle. While there is more, keep this in mind.

Making ourselves move is showing up for our health and loving ourselves. The benefits are many, as are the excuses to not do it. But, Just Do It. Find something new and pull along a friend to make you more committed to be active.

At 33 weeks pregnant, riding on some strong insulin resistance (type 1 diabetes for 2 decades plus) in my third trimester, I am still pumping iron, attending spin classes, restorative yoga and core courses. Are there challenges to being active, especially with moving blood sugars and kicking baby? Yes, but pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone brings numerous benefits and happiness.

With diabetes, even pregnancy, I am taking extra measure in what I am eating, how well I am hydrated and monitoring blood sugars, but I am still out there. Are you? Everyone has different things that maybe challenging their physical fitness, but let’s engage, move, set goals and motivate one another.

If you fall into the pregnancy or diabetes camp, I have some tips to offer, yet I am not a pro. As well, I have included motivators for anyone looking to move their body:

TRYING A NEW ACTIVITY – STAYING MOTIVATED TO MOVE – BEING YOUR FITTEST

  • Variety. As eluded select a number of things that sound interesting to you and sprinkle sessions of such over your calendar for the next month. These activities do not have to be in a gym setting either. One thing I always try to plant on our weekend agenda is a bike ride. Beyond something that looks like exercise, broaden your brainstorm to dance lessons, putt putt with a date and more. A great trend here in Chicago is something call ClassPass. Heard of it? It’s growing into numerous other cities, but instead having to have a membership to one type of studio like Core Power or Bikram yoga, it gives you access to a diverse offering for one flat rate. It’s quite genius I think.

PinterestInterval PinterestWorkout

  • Budget. Memberships and personal training can definitely stack up and if this expense isn’t a priority, seek low cost or free things. Since I have been modifying so much in my classes, I have created some of my own workouts and have used Pinterest to help me with a plan. It’s too easy to do the same. One practice I do, is find a workout I like and take a picture of it on my phone, as shown below, and pull it up when I am ready to break a sweat.
  • Efficacy. Being our fittest doesn’t mean the more the better. It’s easy to overdo exercise, just know your limits and when you start to show signs of too much ie. fatigue, poor recovery, soreness, amenorrhea in extreme cases, etc.

DIABETES + ACTIVITY

  • Move – start small and measure. When I had my son Declan, it took a great deal to feel the edge to want to engage in anything more than walking. So I started small; like real small. Instead of giving myself a deadline to get to the gym, I told myself I had to do 5 pushups a day. Not only was this goal small enough for me to easily engage in the objective, but I often did more than 5 pushups. Over the following weeks, I started doing more weight bearing movements and then went to a class. An easy class too. With each enhancement I also kept an eye on my blood sugar. I test before and after activity, and if I sign up for a class, I also avoid large boluses of insulin before the engagement. This helps prevent hypoglycemia and I am better able to predict what my blood sugar is going to do. Also, in a perfect world, I try to place activity before a meal, so if I didn’t use a large enough temporary basal on my pump, I’d already have a plan to eat after. Depending on the activity and the duration I will take my pump off or at a minimum use a temp basal of 80%. What I decide to do, also varies with the time of day. In the AM I need a smaller temp basal or none at all, verse the evening, I am more insulin sensitive. Everyone is different so be sure to test, measure and not guess for yourself.
  • Food – As mentioned, I try to have a meal planned post activity, but this isn’t always the case. Pre-activity if I need something, I will have a handful of nuts any maybe some berries. Overall something lower in carbohydrate to keep active insulin low. Depending on the intensity and what my starting blood sugar is, this can all change. If I was about to do some low stress cardio (running, swimming, non-sprint biking) I’d maybe grab a Raw bar mini. (And I have no ties w/ this product, they just work with my blood sugar really well).
  • Test, don’t guess. I test preworkout every time and post. Even when I know I am low, I will still test to know exactly how much I should treat to put me back at a good level. I have learned the hard way of consuming too many carbs then putting myself of a roll-coaster cycle. What works for me will vary with anyone else. Some of my go-tos include fruit leathers and Kind bars. I will first have the leather and then followup with carbohydrate that is combined with protein and fat. What do you use?

PREGNANCY + ACTIVITY

  • Boundaries. Know your boundaries and trust your intuition. You don’t want to engage in a new activity once you are pregnant, and a positive pregnancy test doesn’t meant to freeze the gym membership. While walking is wonderful pre and postnatal, and all around, so is weights and breaking a sweat. This is a good article to understand more advice on being active while brewing a baby.

 

Apr 22

Sample Low FODMAP Meal Plan

If you have IBS and looking to resolve some of your symptoms, look into what foods fall within the FODMAP family. Either way, here is a sample meal plan of foods that are ideally tolerated by those avoiding FODMAPs.

Breakfast:

3-4 egg (pasture-raised eggs) omelette. Fill the omelette with ingredients such as spinach, bell peppers, olives. Pair with high quality bacon and/or fruit such as raspberries. Cook in ghee.

Lunch:

Stuffed baked potato (loaded w/ high quality protein). Keep it dairy free until it’s known what can be tolerated. Consider veggies on this list. 

Snack:

Plantain chips (made with coconut oil)

Dinner:

Large dinner salad with protein such as grassfed beef, organic poultry or seafood. Use a homemade dressing of olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Apr 21

Real Food Muffins + Resistant Starch

Hitting my third trimester of pregnancy, my blood sugars are surely feeling the insulin resistance. During this time I am trying to approach the challenge by of course increasing my insulin dosage but also holistically with manipulating what I eat. Have you seen the research on using resistance starch, such as potato starch, for optimizing insulin resistance? If not, check out what they have to say on freetheanimal.com. 

I’ve found some good recipes online (original recipes included in title of recipes) but have modified the amounts of flour and included a dose of potato starch with the followed.

Please note: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, circumstances or adverse effects. if you also have type 1 diabetes, understand the research in that resistant starch can lower blood sugars. If chosen to consume muffins like this, or resistant starch in general, it is a good idea to monitor blood sugars more than normal initially and know that potato starch carbohydrates are not absorbed. Please consult your physician as well.

Blueberry Muffins

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease a regular size muffin tin or line with paper liners. (You can also use silicone cupcake liners for better “non-stick” results)
  3. Mix (or sift) the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  4. Whisk the “eggs”, honey, oil and vanilla in another bowl.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  6. Gently stir the blueberries into the batter.
  7. Spoon into 12-14 muffin tins. (They will be fairly full)
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden on top.
  9. Serve warm

Pumpkin Chia Muffins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder and then mix the chia with the water.
  3. Add pumpkin, honey, vanilla, coconut oil, lemon, then mix well.
  4. Sift in the coconut flour and baking soda
  5. Add in spices
  6. Grease a regular size muffin tin or line with paper liners. (You can also use silicone cupcake liners for better “non-stick” results)
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until dough is set.

Apr 07

Educate Me: What’s So Special About Lemon Water

Lately I have been making a large pitcher of filtered water with cleaned/sliced organic lemons and enjoying over a matter of days. Why am I doing this? Well, I feel better drinking a large glass of lemon water while prepping breakfast every morning, but also it inspires me to drink more water throughout the day. Yet, let’s explore what else this habit is doing for my health.

Justaddgoodstuff.com has a fabulous info-graphic displaying such.

Just Add Good Stuff Lemon Infographic detailing the health benefits in a visual way

 

Mar 14

Type 1 DM and 26 Weeks Pregnant

The insulin resistance is full on – but for once in my pregnancy, I feel pretty good and on-top of things.  I’ve increased my insulin pump basals and now every-time I eat, I dose with plenty of time in advance (30 minutes – 50 minutes depending on the time of the day) and usually use a dual bolus. If you are reading this post for insight on your own situation, I of course advise talking with your health care team before making any changes. The dual works well for me as my meals are moderate carb and protein and high fat. A sample of my meals lately below.

Breakfast – 3 pasture-raised eggs, cooked over easy (yes, this is a pregnancy no-no, but I trust where I source my eggs), 2 pieces of breakfast meat, usually Applegate chicken sausage and vegetables (mushrooms maybe something fermented). All paired with a black coffee and organic cream.

Yup – I also drink coffee. I didn’t with my first pregnancy but have a cup in the morning with baby #2.

Lunch – Vegetable meat muffins – I have been making mini meatloafs and having 2-3 depending on their size and pairing with a green apple or salad.

Snack – nuts or organic cheese and maybe some melon or gluten free pretsels.

Dinner – bunless, lettuce wrap burger – homemade with grassfed beef paired with either green beans cooked in bacon, onion, garlic or a side of warm organic berries.

This is pretty much the backbone of my meals but there are typically some lows that I have to treat as I continue to tweak my basals.

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