Sunday, October 23, 2011
The past few years there has been quite a lot of hype about insulin and how it affects fat storage. It's super-confusing, but I think I've managed to whittle it down to something both understandable and practical for the every day person.
Here goes...... (Er, this isn't going to be real technical, so if you are into splitting hairs or are going to suggest I should have included more information, you may just want to skip this blog.)
Carbohydrates make your blood sugar go up. Your body doesn't like this (high blood sugar is dangerous), so it sends out a storage hormone we call insulin to bring it back down. (BTW- the pancreas is what produces insulin, so that's why you hear so much about the pancreas when people talk about blood sugar.)
Insulin turns the carbs into glycogen and stores the glycogen in different parts of the body, namely the muscles and liver. BUT it also turns any excess glycogen that doesn't fit into the muscles and liver into fat and stores them in your fat cells. If there aren't enough fat cells to hold the fat that has been made, the body has to do something with it, so it makes more fat cells to store it in. And who wants more fat cells?
Okay, now lets add in one more thing Insulin does: It keeps another chemical, called hormone-sensitive lipase, from doing it's job properly. And that job is releasing fat from your fat tissues to be used as energy.
Sooooo..... when you eat a ton of fast-burning carbs (generally the kind that don't have much fiber in them), not only are you promoting fat storage because the muscles and liver can only hold so much, but you are also KEEPING the fat you do have from being burned off as energy. This is the main reason why low-carb diets work so well for weight loss.
Having said all of this, you don't need to run from carbs like they are the enemy. Slow-digesting carbs- like oatmeal, whole-grain breads (the real whole-grain stuff, not the kind that has white flour in it, too) and starchy vegetables- are just that: Slow digesting. They release the carbs slowly into your body so that you don't have an excess all at one time to be stored as fat.
Also, when you exercise heavily the body uses up the glycogen in your muscles very quickly. So you need to eat carbs to replace them so that you have power to not only get through your workout, but also through your day.
If you are anything like me, you are asking "So why do people go low-carb when they are exercising heavily?" The reason for that is another big, long technical explanation, but I'm gonna give the very-condensed-but-not-very-scientific answer: The body will turn fat into glycogen and burn it when your muscles and liver run out of it. And the process of turning the fat into glycogen burns calories in and of itself, so it's kinda like you are getting a little calorie-burning bonus when this happens.
The thing with this is that you want to be very careful: When I have gone too low-carb I have wound up with all sorts of not-so pleasant side effects, the scariest of which is that I started to lose my long-distance vision. It was to a point where I was beginning to question whether I should drive at night because depth perception was thrown off. Other interesting side effects for me were running out of steam very quickly, getting confused easily, feeling mentally "fuzzy", headaches, becoming incredibly irritable (my daughter thought this was the worst side effect- She'd of rather I be blind than a wench), tripping over things, falling down frequently when doing cardio (Once I fell off a bench when doing step-ups, making quite a racket. People were rushing from all of the gym to help me- embarrassing!), and general lack of coordination. Clearly, super-low carb (under about 100g a day) for me is not healthy. I think different people have different thresholds, but if you are experiencing things like this while on a low-carb eating plan, I'd suggest adding a little whole-grain, fruit, or starchy veggie into every meal. Non-starchy veggies ARE a carb source, but they are not a very condensed form of carbs and would take so much of them that you would no longer be practicing portion control, which I believe to be a key factor in losing weight and getting fit.
And as a final and fairly unrelated note, if you are working with a coach who is helping you with your eating and experience any of these symptoms, TELL THEM! Any responsible coach will alter your diet and get you out of the too-low-danger-zone. If they don't, dump them immediately and find someone else to help you. Your health is not worth having a super-svelte appearance.
Monday, September 26, 2011
If you are one of these people who is always blaming someone else for your current less-than-satisfactory physical condition, it's time to give it a rest.
The fact is that I've never seen one person successfully reach their weight loss goals blaming someone else for them being overweight and out of shape. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that when you start pointing the finger at yourself, all your excuses go out the window.
Look, I know I sound harsh. But I have the right to say these things because I know of which I speak: I used to be a blamer.
My favorite person to blame was my husband. I'll still say to this day that the man is hard on a diet. He's not trying to be. Truly. But focusing on eating as a prime source of entertainment and bringing goodies into the house "for the kids" does NOT help keep me in a mindset to maintain my goals. However, it is ME who allowed myself to eat garbage once I was tempted with the yummy foods he exposed me to. I had options: Ask to go to restaurants that have guilt-free foods I can eat; Saying no to junk at the movie (even if he IS holding that delicious-smelling popcorn right next to me); Telling him to please take the kids away from the house to eat the goodies RIGHT NOW; Removing myself from the house until the goodies were gone. I'm sure there were other solutions, but the fact is that it's me who was to blame, not him. After all, I am the one who lives in my body.
I know people who are so busy blaming others as an excuse for their current condition that they are almost obsessed with it...... Mired down in the depressed state of victim,....... looking for sympathy from anyone who will listen as to their woeful tale of why being so fat and out of shape is not their fault.........
I think they feel like if enough people say "It's Okay- You can't help the way you are", they will suddenly feel accepted and the world will be Okay with them being overweight and out of shape, and somehow that will make them happy.
If this is you........, Guess what? Even if everyone were to pat you on the head and tell you what you want so desperately to hear, you would still look in the mirror and see exactly what you saw five minutes before they told you that. And would that image make you happy?
Didn't think so.
A lot of folks like to blame their upbringing. Okay, so I will give it to many of you that you were brought up in homes with very few good food choices and forced to clean your plate. I see a lot of kids whose overweight condition I do indeed blame on the parents. How can kids eat right if they aren't given right food choices? If you are feeding your kids garbage, it's time to accept the blame for where they are and start feeding them healthy foods, even if you don't like healthy foods yourself. Suck it up and set the example.
HOWEVER, if you are an adult who is out of shape and still blaming your parents, it's time to grow up and assume the responsibility for the way you look. Even if they locked you in a closet and fed you nothing but Twinkies your entire upbringing, NOW you are able to make you own choices. NOW you can reverse what they have done. NOW is the time to change your habits. Besides, how long have you been out from under your parents jurisdiction?
Sorry- The Mommy Excuse just doesn't hold water.
The fact is that in order to maintain a body that is too big, you have to eat too much food. I don't care how you got that body but: To maintain it you have to be eating enough food to sustain it. Make every excuse you want, but that's a fact no one can dispute. Well, you could.... but you'd look pretty stupid to the rest of the world if you did.
Unless you lay claim to your own health, you will never own a healthy body. That's just the way it is. As long as you are deflecting the responsibility for your current state on someone besides you, you are nowhere near obtaining the healthy body you deserve to have. YOU have all of the power in this. YOU made choices that got you where you are today, whether you became unhealthy on your own or entered into adulthood that way. And only YOU can get yourself out of it.
How? Start with accepting. Phrases like "I am the one who is responsible for being here." "My dissatisfaction with my body is because of me, not anyone else." "Sure, other people may not have been supportive, but I make the choices that keep me here."
Believe it. Let it sink in. Feel it.
And then? Cast it away. Forgive yourself. Move forward, making better choices. (I blogged about that here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
And enjoy life. You have gone way too far being miserable. It's time to forgive everyone, including yourself (read the above blog link), and live life out from under the cloud of blame. When you do that, you are ready to take care of yourself the way you deserve.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I know I have put this in my status updates, but I thought I would blog about it so that you would have more complete information: I have started a group on Facebook that has turned into exactly what I was hoping it would- It is a warm and friendly place for people of all fitness levels to come for advice, inspiration, and sharing. There is some GREAT information to be had, and I am so pleased with the way it's come along. It's called "Better Body" and is a closed group, because some members had issue with people like spouses and trainers (yikes!) see posts about their struggles that they would have rather not been out there for non-group members to read. But, if you click "Request to Join", I or one of my my co-leaders will add you as soon as one of us sees it.
Here's a link: //www.facebook.com/groups/1643755269
If the link doesn't work, go to FaceBook and search "Better Body". The group with the dinner plate, fork and knife as an icon is ours.
I have made it a point that I don't want members to be bombarded with advertising. Heck, I don't even advertise my OWN services there! I don't mind if people post useful links, or progress pictures (please do!), or like things. But if you are looking for a place to sell your companies protein bars or personal services, please find another group because you will find yourself removed from mine in pretty short order.
We would love to see you there.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
After trying many recipes for protein pancakes and finding nothing I considered short of gag-inducing, I came up with my own recipe in sheer desperation of wanting a different way to combine my traditional oatmeal-and-eggs breakfast.
The two key differences in my protein pancakes is that I cook the oatmeal first, and I add baking powder. I think this helps the texture a great deal.
I will be the first to tell you that I am not a purist when it comes to clean eating. It's probably because I am lazy. At any rate, if this recipe does not measure up to someone's clean-eating standards, I apologize in advance, but making a super "clean" recipe wasn't my goal: Making a quick high-protein low-fat thing I cooked in a pan like a pancake and could put sugar-free syrup on was.
One more note, before I share the recipe: This is NOT going to taste like anything like the fluffy white pancakes you get at IHOP. This is simply something I consider edible that won't ruin your dietary goals.
Now that I've completely slammed my own recipe , here it is. I hope someone else can use it!
Nancy Anne's Oatmeal Protein Pancakes:
Cook 1/2 C oats in just enough water to make them really thick.
Next, spray a pan with non-stick spray and heat on Medium-high. (My burner goes from 1-10 and I put it on an 8.)
While the pan is heating, mix into the cooked oats:
- 1 scoop whey protein powder (I use Syntrax Nectar in Chocolate, which has no carbs, but I'm sure whatever you have on hand will work)
- 1/4 C liquid egg whites (or a whole egg, if you aren't concerned about the yolk)
- Small splash of vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of baking powder
- I guess if you wanted you could stir in some sweetener, but I don't.
- You could also add cinnamon and/or some kind of fruit, if you want. I personally don't think cinnamon or fruit belong in pancakes, but whatever floats your boat- It's your taste buds!
By now your pan should be good and hot. Pour about 1/3 of the above mixture into the pan. It should spread out by itself, but if it doesn't push it around until it's a round shape. Cook until the edges look dry, then flip and brown a little on the other side. (At this point it is mostly done, so no need to leave it sitting as long on the second side. You are just trying to make it un-gooey.)
Plate the pancake, take your pan off the heat, spray with non-stick spray again, and repeat two more times. (If you spray it on the heat your spray will scorch and make the pancake taste not as good, never mind make the pan more difficult to clean.)
When you are done, you will have three Oatmeal Protein Pancakes- it's a good sized plate of food! You can top with whatever you want. I use sugar-free syrup and sometimes Smart-Balance light margarine.
Here's a pic of my finished product:
Let me know what you think!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Recently both of my adult daughters, one who is in college and the other who is married to an enlisted Marine (in other words, not much money right now) told me that they try to eat healthier, but it's expensive. And you know what? They're right. Since being more selective about my food choices my grocery budget has gone way, way up. I've been thinking about blogging about this for a while, but I've hesitated because it's a difficult blog to write. First of all, while I am very good at saving money (I was the broke single Mom of four- I can pinch a penny til it squeals!), I am not by any means a guru of all the healthy foods out there, so I certainly don't know every tip available to mankind.
My daughter Alex, however (the one married to the Marine), encouraged me to blog about it so I'm going to give this a shot. But I'm doing it with the warning that this is NOT a blog on how to eat cheap and super-healthy. It's a blog on how to eat healtiER on a budget. Because if your income is severely limited the sad fact is that you probably won't be able to eat 100% clean or have an optimal food supply. There is no way I could afford to eat grass-fed organic meat (expensive!) with every meal.
Having said that, here are some tips you can implement to help reduce your grocery budget while making healthier choices. Pick and choose as they apply to you:
- Eggs! They're usually less than $2 a dozen, and are packed with all sorts of good things for you. Also, a whole egg will usually keep you feeling full for a long time. If you eat two whole eggs with toast and a salad or a piece of fruit, that's a filling and quick meal that costs very little. Also, egg-based dishes like quiche can be made crust-less and poured into a greased pie pan for relatively little money. I have a recipe that uses canned skim evaporated milk (store brand very cheap), cheese (I use 2%- this is a couple of buck), and ham (I buy the cheapest cubed store brand they have). Lots of protein, and the whole thing goes together for about five bucks and lasts at least a couple of nights. More if you are not feeding other people.
- I've done the math and liquid egg whites, while they appear to be expensive per container, are usually less expensive per white than separating the white from a whole egg. Plus, it's a lot more convenient. Having said this, if you want the most nutritional value for your buck, eat two whole eggs and forget about separating whites. You'll get a little more fat and calories, but you'll be full longer for less money.
- Turkey bacon is less expensive than pork bacon and lots lower in fat.
- Frozen veggies, particularly store brand, are economical, usually more nutritious than fresh (fresh usually loses nutrients in shipping and shelf-ripening), and keep better so there is less waste. Make sure they don't have pasta or sauces added. When you see a sale on them and have a few extra bucks, stock up! Then on those days when you are flat broke you can have a veggie omelet and fill your tummy with nutritious food.
- I know everyone touts the benefits of Ezekiel bread, but at $5 a loaf it's almost a mute point to even suggest it to someone on a limited budget. If you can, get double fiber bread. Or at least 100% whole grain. And don't feel guilty about eating packaged bread- You know how much better whole-grain bread is for you than the white junk most Americans consume? Which reminds me: No matter HOW broke you are, don't buy white bread. Bad, bad, bad. It's completely and utterly nutritionally void, and I don't care what kind of stuff they've sprayed in there to "fortify" it. This is one place you need to spend an extra buck.
- Keep in mind that lots of things, like bread and even milk and cheese, freeze. So if you find a really good deal on something, toss it in the freezer until your current supply has run out.
- Skim milk is usually lower priced than other milks that have fat in them. And look for the store brand of milk! It's usually less expensive than name brand. Often people don't realize more than one brand of milk is on the shelf.
- Forget soy, almond, and any other non-milk "milks". First of all, they're expensive, and second of all, their calcium count is usually far below that of cow's milk. Furthermore, I've found that almond and soy milk, while lower in calories, are higher than fat than skim milk (Which has no fat)
- If you are military and have access to a base commissary, USE IT! Particularly for perishable items. Produce, meats, dairy, and frozen foods are almost always significantly less expensive in base commissary's. If they are a bit of a drive away, go once a month or every two weeks to stock up on the staples. On canned items, though, you can often do better price-wise if you buy the Walmart brand.
- If you have an Aldi near you, peruse the aisles of it to see if there are any healthy options. Their milk and produce is usually quite a lot less expensive than a regular grocery store Be sure to bring your own bags and be prepared to fill them yourself after checking out!
- For canned items, get the store brand. The truth is that they are often made in the same facility as the more expensive stuff.
- Check the price of ground turkey breast against the price of lean ground beef. I've been surprised to find in some stores that it is less expensive.
- Speaking of ground beef, be aware of which level of fat is REALLY the best deal. Sometimes the leaner cuts are more expensive by the pound, but when you figure that 1/4 of the bulk will cook out of the cheapest kind in the form of fat, sometimes the leaner beef actually winds up being a better bargain. On the other hand, if you are making a recipe that calls for cooked and drained ground beef and the fattier kind is significantly less expensive, go ahead and get it, making sure to buy 1 1/3 pounds of 75% lean ground beef for every pound of beef called for in your recipe, since 1/3 a pound will cook off as fat. Then after it is done browning rinse it REALLY well with hot water for several minutes in a colander (keep the hot water going after the beef is drained, to keep the fat from clogging up your sink), before proceeding with your recipe. You will be left with beef that is just about, if not as, lean as the 95% lean beef.
- Work beans into your diet frequently. They help take up bulk and stretch meat dishes farther, and are really good for you! And are they ever cheap! Canned are inexpensive (rinse then first to reduce their sodium content), but dried are cheaper yet. You have to soak the dried kind, but they are a wonderful dollar-stretcher.
- If you have a local Farmers Market USE IT! You will get very fresh produce that tastes better and is healthier than anything you can get in a store for a lot less money.
- Buy in bulk. If it is something you know your family will eat a lot of and the price is less per ounce (you need to check), go ahead and stock up. But make sure it won't go bad before you can eat it all.
- Don't buy in bulk. Yeah, I know I am contradicting myself, but if you are trying something for the first time and not sure you will like it, or if you can't eat it before it goes bad, or if the container isn't going to fit in the space you have to store it, buying in bulk is risky business. You could wind up paying $8 for that big box of cereal that you are never gonna touch again, or have to throw away because it spoiled, or your roommate throws away because they are tired of it sitting on the counter since it won't fit in your dinky little dorm cabinet. That eight bucks coulda gone in your gas tank. Better to spend half as much for a much smaller size.
- Fake crab meat. It's an inexpensive and low-fat high protein food that tastes pretty good. With it I make crab enchiladas, crab omelets, crab quiche, and crab salad.
- Canned Tuna in water. It keeps for a ga-zillion years on your shelf and when you're hungry and low on money it's a good, lean source of protein.
- Before you go shopping make menus and a list of everything you will need to cook them, and then stick to it. The one exception here is if you find a great deal on meat in the store- Then it's okay to swap out for one of your more expensive meat meals on your menu list. For this reason, bring your menu list to the store, too. (Mine is typed right into my shopping list- After I get back it hangs on the fridge.)
- Eat in! It's really hard to find a meal you can eat out for less than the price you can eat at home.
If you found yourself saying "I don't like that!", or "My family won't eat that" to all of my above suggestions, then I am sorry, but I can't help you. Sometimes to compromise and save money while eating healthier you just have to eat what is not your favorite. My kids and I learned to like beans when I was a broke single mom. You can, too. What's more important? Your taste buds, or your health?
Additional suggestions would be appreciated! And if you see comments on this blog below, be sure to read them: You might pick up even more tips!
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