Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Poor wheat. And fruit. And Corn. And potatoes. And dairy. And red meat. They are all getting an unnecessarily bad rap.
I don't know about you, but I have heard reports speaking against all of the above, even to the extremes of saying many of these shouldn't have been in the human diet in the first place and should be eliminated. I think this is, at least, very inconvenient (and expensive) and, at most, dangerous. My belief is that God put on these foods on earth for our consumption. Eliminating any or all of them from our diets, for reasons other than allergies or intolerance's, leaves our bodies void of many nutrients they need to run at max efficiency.
Food fads come and go. Someone will decide that a food "causes" problems. Remember when they said peanut butter caused cancer? The same thing came around about cauliflower. Now, peanuts are considered a valuable source of healthy fats (A-hem... They always were!), and cruciferous vegetables, to include cauliflower, are considered healthy for their unique blend of nutrients and fiber.
Hey, if you overeat ANY food, even a healthy one in it's most natural form possible, there are going to be negative side effects. The key is to eat a very wide variety all the time.
So, starting with wheat, I plan to do a series of blogs on what I have heard to be the reasons to avoid the above mentioned foods, and my rebuttal to these reasons:
Reason to avoid: It has a high glycemic index, making it mess with blood sugar.
My rebuttal: When wheat isn't stripped of it's wheat bran, bleached free of it's nutrients, smooshed to bits, and then sprayed with vitamins to "fortify it" (in other words, been turned into common white flour), the glycemic index isn't bad at all and it can actually help to stabilize blood sugar, due to the high fiber content. It's the fact that man has jacked with it so much that has screwed it up. If you want to use white flour for a special and rare dessert, be my guest! Whole wheat flour does not a light dessert make. But for your regular, day-to-day use, go with whole wheat: either white (it's actually a type of wheat, still in it's whole form) or regular brown whole wheat flour. King Arthur is my favorite brand of either. Try it once, and you'll see why. Totally worth the extra cost, IMHO
Reason to avoid: The glucose in it is bad for you.
My rebuttal: The glucose in your regular, cheap, processed white wheat is indeed bad for you. The glucose in whole wheat is not. (See above.)
Reason to avoid: It is a high allergen.
My rebuttal: Are you allergic to it? If so, then avoid it. If not, this is a moot point. I am allergic to tree nuts, but I'm not going to tell you to avoid tree nuts if you are not allergic to them. They are good for you, but they are bad for me. You should eat them, I should not. Duh.
Reason to avoid: It makes you bloat ("wheat belly").
My rebuttal: When some people digest wheat their midriffs do indeed temporarily swell. It's the gases produced by the bacteria in the intestinal tract that are digesting the wheat. In other words, it's air. And this is a good thing: It means the body is breaking the wheat down and sending the good stuff into your body to be used as healthy fuel, as well as separating the fiber to keep your elimination system moving regularly and in a healthy manner. It's a temporary, healthy, and necessary process that will go down as soon as the digestion is complete. Additionally, this tendency tends to be worse if you haven't had wheat for a while. As your system adjusts to it, "wheat belly" will usually go away.
Reason to avoid: It has little nutritional value.
My rebuttal: Hogwash! It's an excellent source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, choline, betaine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, copper, zinc, potassium, not to mention fiber. If that's not a nutrient-rich food, I don't know what is.
Reason to avoid: Celiac Disease
My rebuttal: If you have celiac disease, wheat is going to be a problem for you. So is anything else with gluten in it. But do you know how rare celiac disease is? Last I heard, about 1/2 a percent of all people actually have it, and only 15% of the population are gluten intolerant. How many of the remaining 84 & 1/2% are avoiding gluten because they think it is bad for them? They are missing out on important nutrients, all packaged into one very healthy food, unnecessarily. This is ridiculous. Gluten is what gives wheat it's protein and is rich in iron, among other things. Vegetarians often use it for this reason. Don't go for gluten-free foods unless you have been medically diagnosed as being sensitive to gluten.
Next up: Fruit......
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Do you ever struggle with how often you should weigh yourself? I've seen rather heated discussions on the subject. Everyone seems to have an opinion. It can get confusing.
Personally? I don't think there is one answer for everyone. I think this has more to do with your own personality than anything else. And, to a lesser degree, your goals.
If you are someone who needs constant accountability to keep your head in the game, daily weighing is what I would suggest. Knowing that you have to face the scale every morning might help you to stay on-track during the day.
On the other hand, if you are someone who gets discouraged with the daily (normal) fluctuations in scale weight, a weekly or bi-weekly weigh-in might be better for you.
And some people do better if they just don't get on a scale at all and instead focus on the changes in how clothes fit, measurements, and how they look in the mirror. Which are actually more accurate, albeit slower, gauges, anyhow.
Then there is the factor of goals. Weight loss is a completely different mindset than maintenance. You might decide you need to weigh more or less often, depending on where your head is in your current journey. Personally, I do best during maintenance when I weigh daily. But that's me. Some people are better at letting it go entirely or just jumping on a scale every once in a while to make sure they are still on target.
Now let's consider the goal of muscle gain. When I start with a new client, I ask them to step away from the scale, if at all possible. This is because, for reasons unknown to me, often the scale weight will change very little while the body shape changes fairly rapidly once intense resistance training is introduced. If someone is focusing on the scale it makes it very hard for them to acknowledge the physical changes taking place in their body.
Likewise, if you are working with a trainer who wants you to weigh in at certain intervals, that is what you need to do. Don't jack with their program! (I did a blog by [almost] that title here: itallmakesadifference.blogspot.com/2
There is so much more to your fitness than a number on the scale!
And lastly, however often you decide to weigh, strive to do it at the same time of day, in the same amount of dress, having eaten (or not eaten) the same number of meals before hand. The most accurate time to weigh is first thing in the morning, after you have used the restroom and buck naked. But even then, there are fluctuations, so don't let a gain of a pound or two ruin your day. Just make note of it, keep doing the right thing, and weigh at the next scheduled weigh date. The most important thing is that the overall trend is downward.
And don't let someone else's opinion of how often you should weigh guilt you or have you second-guessing what is right for you. We are all individuals. Do what works for you, and respect what others say works for them. It's a big fitness world and there is room for all of our differences.
Monday, March 11, 2013
I've heard so many people who are not where they want to be in their fitness journey worry about what others in the gym will think about them. I get this- I have been not fit and afraid to go to the gym, not fit and going to the gym, fit going to the gym, and a trainer who works IN the gym. Basically, all sides of the equation.
And so, based on not only my own personal experience but from what I have polled other people of all categories, here is what people of various points in their fitness journeys are thinking when they see a very overweight and out of shape person in the gym:
- The person not fit and afraid to go to the gym sees you walking into the gym and is envious that you have the guts to go in there. As a bonus, you may have unwittingly inspired them to try it, too.
- The person not-fit and going to the gym is thinking the same thing you are, of course. Which is something along the lines of "Oh, look! Someone like me!". You help to make them feel like they belong.
- The fit person going to the gym... well.... no offense, but they aren't thinking about you much at all. They actually are so focused on and/or worn out from their own workout that they don't have the energy to think of you. Their primary thought is "Dear God, please let me survive this workout." But if they do have a fleeting thought about you it is "Good for them! They are just where they need to be!"
- And the Personal Trainers in the gym are thinking several things, depending on their situation. If they are with a client they probably aren't paying any attention to you- They are focused on their client. If they aren't with a client, they are thinking the same thing the fit person working out in the gym is thinking- That you are just where you need to be, although probably with a bit more pride in you being there, since Trainers are schooled in how hard it is for someone who is not in stellar shape to even get themselves through the door.
Another thing the trainer might be thinking is that they wish you would ask them for help if you have a quick question. The fact is that we see people execute a lot of moves incorrectly and so very want to straiten them out, but we don't. This is because we have learned that 9 times out of 10 people don't appreciate it and look at us as judgmental, even though we were truly trying to help. So we learn to bite our tongues and wish that someone would ask "If you have a minute, could you please show me how to do this?". Just don't ask us when we are with a client- They are paying for us to pay 100% attention to them.
It's your workout, it's your business. Do it because it is good for you, not because of what anyone else thinks. Odds are it's not nearly as bad as you are imagining, anyhow.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I really suck at making brown rice on the stove. White rice? I'm a pro. But Brown rice? The long-cook kind? Just about every time it comes out crunchy.
I knew about rice cookers (Who doesn't know about rice cookers?), but I thought it would wind up being just another appliance that was more trouble than it was worth and after two frustrating attempts it'd wind up in a garage sale. That is, until I posted another whiney status update on Facebook saying that I, once again, broke the brown rice. That prompted someone (may have been Carolyn, who told me to suck it up and get a coffee grinder for my flaxseed: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5260240 ) to tell me that rice cookers do a great job at making brown rice the way it should be (non-crunchy), and that they aren't hard to use OR hard to clean, which were my biggest concerns.
So I asked for a rice cooker for my birthday, and my husband gave me one. I told him to please not get me the kind that vacuums the carpets and does taxes. I just wanted the most basic model possible, because I never use the extra stuff on appliances. He was obedient and got me the basic model by Aroma:
It comes with a steamer insert thingy, so that you can cook veggies on top (It has yet to be put into action. See? I don't use extra stuff), and a measuring cup. The inside is non-stick and the inside of the top of the lid pops off for super-easy cleanup:
The process for making rice with this thing couldn't be simpler- Toss the rice and water in there, close the lid down tight, plug it in, and turn it on. It somehow senses when the rice is done and moves it to the "keep warm" setting for several hours. No watching for water to boil, cleaning up of boil-overs on my stove, or scrubbing burnt rice of of the bottom of a pan because I accidentally cooked it too long. Additionally, I can set it off to the side and all my burners are still free for anything else I might be cooking. As an added bonus, it's ready in about half the time it takes to make rice on the stove.
The ratio of water to rice are different for brown rice than white, so I still have to look it up in the manual each time I use it, but let me tell ya something; this thing couldn't be easier to use. And the rice has never once turned out anything other than wonderful! Sometimes I use chicken broth instead of water, for some extra flavor. I almost always cook up more than we need and store the leftover in the fridge to use as a healthy carb over the next few days. (Did you know that cold brown rice makes a wonderful addition to salads?)
As is always the case, though, I started thinking: I usually have oatmeal for breakfast, which I cook in my Micro Steamer (blogged about it here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4305785 ). But I've wanted to try steel cut oats. The thing is, they take so blessed long to cook that I only tried them once. I'm just too hungry in the mornings to wait that long to eat, plus I had to keep stirring them because they threatened to burn to the bottom of my pot. Since the cooking method for steel-cut oats is very similar to rice, I started wondering if I could cook them in the rice cooker. I did a quick Google search and, sure enough, you can. One part oats and three parts water, but don't fill the cooker more than half full, because oats like to foam up when they cook. This is REALLY cool, because I can jump out of bed, dump the oats and water in the rice cooker, then run off to the bedroom to make the bed, brush my teeth, and do my normal morning "stuff". When I get to the kitchen, the oats are pretty much done. I just give them a quick stir because there is water on top, then close the lid back down and let it absorb a bit while I get my vitamins together, feed the dog, and make my eggs or mix up a protein shake.
So there 'ya have it- My third and final gadget blog. (To link my first one, click here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5258932 The link to the second one is above in the coffee grinder link.) Useful things I use regularly and make my life a lot easier AND healthier. Let me know what you think! (And tell me what you use YOUR rice cooker for- I'm always looking for new ideas!)
Friday, February 22, 2013
Yep. I said coffee grinder. And it's all Carolyn's fault.
My friend Carolyn, of Fabulous Fitness fame, read me whining one day about having to buy ground flaxseeds in such large quantity that I feared they were losing their nutrients before I could use them. See, flaxseeds are wonderful little nutritional powerhouses, but you can't get absorb their nutrients in the whole form. They have to be ground. Here's where the problem comes in: They start to lose their nutrients fairly quickly (within a week or two after grinding). A bag of ground flaxseeds lasts a VERY long time when you are only using a tablespoon most days.
So I whined about it, and Carolyn told me to get one of those mini coffee grinders to grind them as I use them. She said it cost about ten dollars at WalMart. Go get one, already, and stop your whining! (Okay, she didn't say it JUST like that, but it makes for a more interesting story.)
Anyhow, I went to WalMart and got one, and Carolyn was wrong: It wasn't ten dollars- It was thirteen. (Carolyn- you own me three bucks.)
Anyway, I took it home, read the directions (yes, I am one of THOSE people), dropped some whole flaxseed into it that I purchased in the bulk section at United Market Street for about sixty-eight cents (I wasn't going to buy a whole bag just to find out it didn't work), pressed the little button and..... viola! Ground flaxseed, nutrients intact. That was pretty cool! (Can you tell I am easily amused?)
The only caveat is that once you start grinding flaxseeds with the coffee grinder, you do NOT want to grind coffee with it. Or so I've heard. The microscopic bits of flaxseed kinda cling to the inside of the grinder. It's very hard to clean completely. I'm going to make a guess that flax coffee is probably not so tasty.
So me and my little coffee grinder lived in harmony with the flaxseeds. Then one day I started hearing about oat flour. And then I found a recipe I wanted to try with oat flour in it. (Chocolate PB Protein Brownies by Julie Lohre: teamfitbody.com/699/ ) I didn't want to buy an entire container of oat flour for a recipe that calls for just a cup. So I started thinking.... and Googling (what DID we do before Google?)........
Upon investigation, I found out that oat flour is simply finely ground oatmeal. The recommendation was to grind it in a blender. This sounded dusty to me. I hate dust. And then my eye fell on my little coffee grinder. I thought "I wonder?", and dropped some oats in there. A whirl or two later, and I found myself staring in amazement at oat flour! And, to make matters better, when I poured the oat flour out of the grinder, the thing was clean as a whistle. Double benefit. Yay!
The recipe was good, by the way, but, of course, I altered it to my own taste. Here's a link to my version: allrecipes.com/personalrecipe/634901
And there you have it- More information than you ever wanted about mini coffee grinders. But if you are a flaxseed eater, I'd highly recommend one. Cheap, easy, and takes up almost no space. How much better does a gadget get?
For Gadget Blog #1, click here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
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