30 Days to healthy living: Day 13

FOUR hours. I spent FOUR hours at a workshop at my Tang Soo Do studio today then I hit a wall. amazingly those 4 hours flew by but probably I should have stopped for a snack or something midway through. Duh. But, I was having fun with my friends from class that I didn’t really notice until I just had nothing left. Our black belts had come to a class the night before and several of them were testing all morning and they were still going when I left. WOW. I now have #goals.

Anyway, we are here to talk about gut health tonight and what a topic this is! I mean, gut health is the whole reason I am here. Let me give you my backstory first.

I have had gut issues since I was a kid. Then as an adult they worsened after I had my first baby. I developed what was labeled as lactose intolerance. I stopped eating ALL dairy and lost a ridiculous amount of weight. My class mates in college were asking me if I was sick. fast forward 3 years and I was pregnant with my second baby and was once again able to drink milk and eat cheese. Several years later I found myself doubled over no matter what I ate and it would last for hours. I couldn’t eat during the day at work or I couldn’t function so I would drink coffee and hot cocoa and then eat when I got home. The day I showed up in my providers office he got on the phone and had me seeing a gastroenterologist the very next day. The gastroenterologist examined me, said I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and sent me away with a prescription for dicyclomine (which, BTW, doesn’t do a thing…). No diet recommendations. No bloodwork. No testing other than checking to make sure I didn’t have blood in my stool. Gee, thanks.

So I went about eliminating different foods. Shrimp went. So did salad. Then my jaw decided to lock up and out went crusty bread or anything crunchy or chewy. Eventually the stomach pain went away with the eliminations and I went on with my Ife for a little while. I had a bad break up and lived on Cheerios, ice cream and wine for a month and lost 10 pounds. Then I started grad school and stress ate my way to a 20 lb weight gain and in the process decided to have a reaction to chicken of al things. No chicken for a few years. Then one day I could eat it. (It still seems crazy to me). I couldnt drink red wine because even a half glass gave me a migraine. Somewhere in there my liver enzymes shot up to hepatitis levels although I wasn’t sick and my iron was high. I had to eliminate all alcohol, NSAIDS like Tylenol and ibuprofen and cease using my cast iron pan. 6 months later it was normal. Unlike other celiacs I have never been anemic except when I was pregnant with my twins.

In 2011 I started a new job. Let’s just say that I have a nervous bladder AND digestive system and I found my self running to the restroom FREQUENTLY and I was very uncomfortable. This was in an office setting so it was especially embarrassing and inconvenient. I was trying to lose weight at the same time and couldn’t (ironically) and noticed that while keeping a food journal that I would gain 3-4 lbs every time I ate pizza or pasta or bread at dinner. I mentioned it to my provider who said it sounded like celiac and to try going gluten free for 2 weeks. I tried it and felt better within 1 week. The fog lifted. I didn’t wake up feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. I wasn’t running to the bathroom. My stomach didn’t hurt as bad. I didn’t ache all over. The angels were singing!

Then, I had to start eating gluten again so I could have blood work and scoping. You need to be eating the equivalent of 2 slices of wheat bread every day, preferably for 2 months, before blood work can be done. When you stop eating gluten, your body relaxes and the levels of circulating antibodies goes down and can produce a false negative result. You have to keep your body in attack mode to detect the antibodies adequately to get a positive result. The next step in testing for celiac disease is endoscopy which is a thin flexible tube with a camera that is inserted into your small intestine by way of your stomach in order to take tissue samples for biopsy. My (new and wonderful) gastroenterologist told my husband in the room afterward that he didn’t even need to have the biopsy results to know I had celiac disease it was so bad! At that point my son, my first baby after which I first started having fairly severe symptoms was 17! I finally had a diagnosis. Celiac disease.

So goodbye gluten. And goodbye Guinness and every other dark and lovely porter I used to drink. Goodbye homemade honey whole wheat bread made lovingly by my friend. Goodbye Chinese takeout and fast food (not a loss there) and takeout pizza and anything fried in a shared fryer (bye chicken wings) and just willy nilly grabbing a snack or eating dessert. Goodbye. Life.

On the upside I finally started shedding weight. So much weight that I looked emaciated in photos and my family commented on it. It did stabilize over time as I experimented with the paleo diet and traditional foods. I even managed to stress eat another 10 pounds over the past 2 years until I pulled myself together this summer and lost it again. (Note: Peanut M&M’s and snickers are gluten free. for good and for bad…)

What does this have to do with the topic of gut health other than my personal sob story? A lot. 1 in 133 people have celiac disease. Of those with first degree relatives who have celiac disease, 1 in 10-11 of them will also develop it. Celiac disease has many gut symptoms but more non-gut related symptoms. It is associated strongly with Type 1 diabetes in kids and people with Down syndrome have high rates of concurrent celiac disease. Undiagnosed celiac disease can cause hypothyroidism and anemia. Celiacs have a high rate of gastrointestinal cancers including b-cell lymphoma. Getting a diagnosis is difficult but critical to treating it correctly. A gluten free diet is essential to the treatment of celiac disease. At this point there is no other way to control it. Vaccine trial are underway as well as some agents designed to bind gluten or break it down in some way that the body does not react but they seem to be mainly designed to avoid reaction from incidental exposure to gluten such as a restaurant that cross contaminates your food, or eating food that is contaminated due to manufacturing contamination. I am doubtful of seeing a true cure for celiac disease, at least in my lifetime. Either way, I’m eating wonton soup on my deathbed…

There is also a diagnosis if non-celiac gluten sensitivity in which people have gut symptoms from eating gluten but test negative for celiac disease. There is some question as to whether this group of people is reacting to gluten or something that is commonly found with gluten containing foods. There is at least anecdotal evidence of people not being able to eat gluten in the US yet can eat them without symptoms when they travel overseas. I have a couple of friends who have experienced this. Is is a chemical that causes this reaction, such as a pesticide? Or they type of wheat eaten? I know others who can eat “ancient” wheats such as Einkorn or can eat true sourdough without symptoms. The jury is out as to the root cause but it is not autoimmune like celiac disease is. Considering how adulterated our food is in the US as compared to Europe I would not doubt it being caused by the processing of our foods or the type of pesticides used. Europe bans many more than we could ever hope to.

Gluten is not the only culprit causing gut symptoms. Lack of fiber in our diets and eating nutritionally anemic fast food/processed foods as well as stress and lack of exercise all contribute to belly bloat and abdominal fat. Dairy intolerance, soy intolerance and corn intolerance can cause bloating and either diarrhea or constipation as well. Lactose, the sugar in dairy, is broken down by lactase, an enzyme, but in those whose guts are already affected by other food issues or by genetics or medications, lactase production can be affected and lactose intolerance develops causing gas, bloating, diarrhea and even vomiting in some cases when dairy products are ingested. Some people cannot tolerate dairy protein which is called casein. Some can not tolerate soy in any form and many cannot digest corn and suffer similar symptoms. ( I am not talking here about allergies which generally cause different symptoms and affect a different pathway or reaction. Allergies can be deadly. )

What else? There are inflammatory bowel diseases that are autoimmune. These sometimes respond to diet changes including a gluten free diet but they often also require strong medications to control. Overgrowth of H. Pylori bacteria can cause ulcers and this is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic use can cause gut imbalances which result in diarrhea and altered bacterial growth. They kill off the good guys along with the bad and it can take 6 months or longer to repopulate. Repeatedly taking antibiotics is the worse thing for your gut and can contribute to an even worse infection called “c.diff.” C. Diff in turn causes fever, diarrhea and an elevated white blood cell count. C. diff infection is common in those who have been hospitalized and it can cause death.

So the first step in addressing gut health is getting a correct diagnosis for the symptoms you are having. Sometimes this requires a lot of sleuthing and that is where health/food journals come in. Just like I mentioned earlier, I was journaling my food intake and weight which led to the discovery that high gluten foods were causing overnight weight gain (due to edema/swelling/fluid retention). I never would have put it together until I saw it on paper! Some diagnoses will require testing to obtain such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

Find a medical provider who is willing to work with you to discover the root cause of your problem and do a proper work up before just labeling you with irritable bowel syndrome. It is a disservice to people to give this diagnosis and then try to treat it with medication. IBS is often a way to say I don’t know what it is so here is this label. Stop complaining. There is nothing actually wrong with you. Find someone to help and be willing to do some trial and error on your own as well. Keep a journal. Write down everything you eat, how you are feeling, your weight and what you are doing and any medications you are taking. Write down what you’ve tried and what worked and what didn’t. This is all valuable information!

See? I told you this would take more than one post!! Tomorrow I will be back to continue this discussion with some more concrete things we can do to support our gut health in general and then we will go into more detail about probiotics/probiotics and other supplements on Monday.

Until then, have a great night and be well!


30. Days to healthy living: Day 12

Man oh man it’s late. I am tired and definitely not following my own advice from yesterday!

Today I tried a different workout, drank my 64 oz+ of water, did not over eat and followed my diet, had 1 alcoholic beverage (it’s Friday!) and clearly am not getting to bed on time! Tomorrow I have a 3 or 4 hour workshop at the studio where I take Tang Soo Do. I also had my twice a week class last night. I am definitely finding that the more I workout and move, the more I WANT to workout and move! I believe that is called MOMENTUM!

How are YOU doing? If you have been following along and incorporating some of the ideas I have proposed, how is it going? What hurdles are you finding?? My biggest hurdle is snacking in front of the computer. Believe it or not, I get very antsy when I have to sit down in front of the computer to do work and write notes. My automatic response is to eat while I sit there. This resulted in my gaining 10 pounds that I had lost previously. I am fairly certain that at least half my extra weight was made up of peanut M&M’s and the other red wine and snickers.

One thing that I think we need to consider eliminating from our lives are snacks especially of the liquid kind. Many of use don’t even realize that we are snacking when we hit the coffee shop. It’s not. “Just” coffee you are consuming!! Many of those yummy drinks are hundreds of calories and your body doesn’t recognize it as food because it’s liquid. What??? Sad fact: if you don’t have to chew your food, your body probably won’t register whatever you drank as sufficient to satisfy your hunger. Chewing food and taking at least 20 minutes to eat is the best way to let your body know that it has eaten and have that acknowledged by your brain so it can tell you to stop eating. When we sip our calories it doesn’t quite do the same thing. Oh no! Not the PSL!!!

Since I am working on an extended fast each day, I drink black coffee every morning until noon. The only thing I add are essential oils (and only essential oils that are labeled for ingesting). Then, I have a protein shake to which I add fiber (filling) and cinnamon (lowers blood sugar) and maybe peanut powder. I think because of the thicker consistency and fiber content in my shakes, this is satisfying. However, I have also been having a green apple and maybe another 100 calorie or so item in order to make it more like a meal. Then, I try to go 4-5 hours before eating again. I drink water and black Oolong tea or herbal tea in between. If I am starving I will have a handful of nuts in a 5oz cup of yogurt as a mini meal and then I have dinner. If I am working out I eat a little more during the day and then I have been having a protein shake afterward.

So one of the biggest reasons for not snacking is avoiding calories you forget about. We have amnesia when it comes to what we eat when we don’t pay any attention to it. Oh, I’m hungry you think, then you’re driving past McDonalds and you grab a cheap cheeseburger because its “small” and then you go through the Starbucks drive through and get a PSL. An hour later you are back home cooking dinner and completely forget to count those calories as part of your daily intake. Then you have a glass or two of wine with dinner and lose any willpower you had and eat a bag of cookies or half a cheesecake (because it sooo good!) or a bag of chips. you fall asleep and by tomorrow afternoon you can’t recall half of what you ate the day before and it starts all over again. By forcing yourself to sit down and eat a meal instead of snacking you are training your brain to slow down and pay attention. You are giving your stomach time to tell your brain that it has eaten sufficiently and that you are no longer hungry. This also contributes to a less stressful atmosphere in which to eat which in turn aids digestion. It is also believed that this less rushed, pleasurable way of eating helps explain why the French can eat so much bread and drink wine at each meal and traditionally have stayed thin with less heart disease than we have here in the US. It’s not just the red wine!

Consider cutting out snacking and instead, drink water and if you are truly hungry just have your next meal. Planning out your day so you know when you can eat and what you will eat is also helpful in curbing snacking. You aren’t going to starve to death! I promise!!

French women don’t snack. Keep that in mind. (I am admittedly fascinated by the French.)

Ok, that’s it for tonight. Tomorrow I am going to tackle gut health by request 🙂

Have a groovy night!


30 Days to healthy living: Day 11

Sleep 😴

We all need more sleep! The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Running on less affects levels of alertness and reaction time. Driving while sleep deprived is as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol. It affects your ability to learn, your level of patience and can contribute to weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We NEED sleep!

There are several things that interfere with sleep and I am just as guilty as everyone else! First, artificial light is messing with us. Keeping bright lights on keeps our bodies from going into sleep mode. Blue light on our computers, phones and tablets is probably worse (and it contributes to macular degeneration). Before electric lights, we used lanterns and candles and before that we had a campfire. The dinner light allows your brain to register that it is night and we should be gearing down for sleep. That’s where melatonin comes in and makes you drowsy. Bright light = no melatonin.

Second, we drink caffeine too late in the day. It takes about 12 hours for your body to metabolize half the caffeine you drink. So only half of your 3 pm coffee is metabolized by 3 am! Yikes! No wonder you are rising and turning!

Third, we are too sedentary. Sitting around all day and not moving contributes to insomnia. Weird but true. My nursing home residents often sit around all day dozing and are then up half the night. Partly that is due to dementia but it’s also from lack of activity all day long.

Fourth, we eat too late at night. Eating and then going to bed increases your risk of reflux and heartburn. Your body is spending its energy digesting instead of repairing and rejuvenating you. Drinking alcohol is worse. Alcohol before bed interrupts your sleep cycle and keeps you from getting REM sleep. It cause you to go into a walk cycle too soon and you will find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night and certainly not feeling well rested in the morning. Since I’ve given up my nightly glass (or 2) of wine I am sleeping much better. I can now tell the difference in the morning when I have an alcoholic beverage too late.

Last, we tend to keep our rooms too hot. Ever try to sleep without AC in the summer when we have a heat wave and it’s still 90 degrees at night? You can’t sleep right? A drop in body temperature triggers your body to go into sleep mode and if your home and bedroom are too warm it will keep that process from happening. I hate air conditioning so this one is hard for me to swallow. I’m always cold!!

So what do we do?

1. Turn off all devices and the TV 2 hours before bed.

2. Try using real candles or oil lamps in the evening. Romantic candlelit dinner anyone?

3. No eating for 2 hours before bed and don’t let that last meal be a full meal. If you have to eat late because of a weird work schedule or something, make it a snack instead and just have enough so you aren’t feeling hangry.

3. No alcohol before bed, preferably at least 4 hours before bed. Longer is even better. Have your glass of wine with supper around 5 or 6 if you’re going to bed at 10.

4. Exercise. Yep that again. Several sources state that exercise in the morning is the best to promote sleep at night. I exercise at night and haven’t found it to keep me awake. Quite the opposite, a good workout gives me an immediate little burst of energy but then I’m ready to sleep earlier than when I don’t exercise.

5. Take a hot bath or shower in the evening. This raises your body temp and then it will drop as you dry off afterward causing your body to go into sleep mode. Plus it feels so good to slip into bed after you e washed the day away.

6. Avoid caffeine after noon. I drink 1-2 cups each morning and that’s it. I love my morning coffee and it has a lot of health benefits. Make sure you get those benefits in the morning though! Decaf may be ok in the afternoon and evening but it still has a little bit of caffeine left in it. Same with tea. Green tea has less caffeine than black tea but it still has caffeine. Try white tea or herbal in the evening.

7. Open a window and sleep in a room that’s about 68 degrees. Wear extra layers that you can take off if you get too warm at night. I put on socks to go to sell for my cold feet and I almost always kick them off in the middle of the night!

8. Try yoga or stretching in the evening to relax you. Read a book.

9. Keep your bedroom for sleep only. Well, ok, that too 😉

10. No TV, phones or tablets in your bedroom. Get a real clock and ditch night lights. If you must use a nightlight use a red bulb. Red light doesn’t wake you up the way white and blue light does. I use red bulbs in my kids room for their night light. It works!

11. Last, keep a set sleep schedule. Determine what time you need to be up. Subtract 8 hours. This is when you should be falling asleep. 2 hours before that, turn off the phone and TV, take a bath, read a book, drink some herbal tea and get ready for bed. Don’t sleep in more than an hour on your “off” days. More will not help as you can’t fix a big sleep deficit. You need a consistent schedule to train your body to know when it should be sleeping and when it should be awake!

Which of these do you think you can implement. I have done some and have seen a difference. I want to work I’m going to bed earlier and turning off stuff earlier. I am totally not following my advice writing this post at 10pm! I’m learning too ☺️

Now, stop reading this and go to sleep!!

Liz 😴😴😴 💤💤💤 🛏

30 Days to healthy living: day 10 (for real)

A bit later than I expected to get started but I don’t want to miss a post! I put out a message asking for a request today and the request was for how to handle holiday eating.

On Thanksgiving I posted about my philosophy of holiday eating in general which is: enjoy the DAY. Make it a special occasion, expect to eat more than usual, eat all the things you LOVE and don’t deprive yourself (with in reason). Holidays should be treated as feast days and celebrated. It’s not a day to live on celery sticks. (Really Monday should be spent eating celery sticks but I digress…)

Today I’ll touch on a couple of ideas for helping to pace yourself and then how to get back on the wagon the following day.

First, note that I said to celebrate the DAY, not the WEEK. Thanksgiving is one day. So is Christmas, your birthday, Easter, etc. Don’t let your celebration turn into an everlasting feast. In fact, I’d argue that in keeping your feast days sacred you will enjoy them more because they are special. Case in point: I used to love Creme brûlée. It was something I’d order in a restaurant on a special occasion and I was always excited for the rare occasion I’d get to eat it. It was delicious. Then I was diagnosed with celiac disease and when the dessert tray came around the only dessert that was gluten free always seems to be Creme brûlée. Well let me say that when your only dessert option is always Creme brûlée it stops being special. The same principle is at work with everyone’s diet. If you eat it all the time it ceases to be special so keep your special treats rare and savor them!

Next, make sure you stay hydrated. I recommend starting every day with a glass of water, maybe with lemon. Continue drinking fluids for a total of 64 Oz per day at minimum, more if you exercise and when you are dining out or eating foods that are high in sodium as is likely on a holiday or special eating day. You need to flush the extra sodium and waste products out via your kidneys and water is the way to do it. If you are drinking alcohol, drink at least one full glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage. Try sipping herbal tea after your meals to aid digestion and get more fluid intake as well. Your body can mistake thirst for hunger and you end up overeating when really you just need a glass of H2O.

Third, try using a smaller plate. Take a spoonful of the foods you want to eat and savor each bite. Our dinner plates today are huge! Don’t buy dinner plates that are larger than 10 inches. Trick your mind into thinking you ate more than you did. If you eat slowly and you are still hungry then have a second helping. There should be no reason for thirds. Don’t even consider it an option.

The fourth thing builds on the third and that is to taste your food! Cut food into small pieces, chew them slowly and notice the flavors. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to register with your brain that it is full so give it time by slowing down. Eating isn’t a race. Chewing also helps digestion and time will help with satiety. You get the most pleasure from the first couple of bites of any food so make them count!

How to get back on the horse the next day: just get on. Plan it out. Start your day with a glass of water, some black coffee or tea and wait until you feel hungry to eat. Then start eating your healthy diet again. You should also keep up the extra fluids for a day or two to flush out the extra sodium and whatever you do, don’t weigh yourself for at least a week! That’s just asking for punishment!!

I know I mention tea all the time but I also find sparkling water a great craving buster. Black coffee is good too. If you aren’t fasting, bone broth/stock is a good option. Throw in some veggies, leeks are especially good in beef broth. Mmmmm now I want leeks…

Vegetable soup is a great way to use up leftovers and make a lower calorie meal. It’s a great snack and craving buster if seasoned well.

Consider having a day of meal replacement shakes. I use Arbonne protein shakes for this on occasion. Protein shakes are also helpful when you are traveling and might not have great options. You don’t want to follow up a holiday eating spree with fast food burgers and fries 🍟!

Green apples! I love green apples! They are super refreshing and not as sweet. An excellent snack any day but especially post holiday binge is a sliced green apple with a tablespoon of almond butter. Eaten whole they’re a great portable snack that can help with the need to crunch on something that isn’t celery. Sorry celery, you’re just usually not my jam (unless I’m eating buffalo wings and blue cheese!).

Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them! Personally I’m adding leeks to my shopping list this week and will be enjoying them braised in beef broth and sprinkled with Asiago. So delicious!

See you tomorrow night!!

Liz 😘🍏🍵

30 Days to healthy living: Day 9

It’s been a loooong day! I worked, met with a friend and took half a kickboxing class and then an hour of Tang Soo Do (Korean karate). My butt is kicked literally and figuratively!

So, how much do YOU move? If you are like me, probably not enough. This is bad! We NEED to move!!! 🏃‍♀️

How much? Minimum guidelines for exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise or more. There is no upper limit of exercise necessarily but if you have ever seen an some extreme marathoners that you can almost see through I’d say that borders on unhealthy. They have to be super careful not to deplete themselves and end up with broken bones and heart attacks. Most of us do not have this problem.

Most of us sit on our butts all day getting fat and killing ourselves literally. We have sitting disease. It’s rampant in our culture. It’s some kind of travesty if you have to walk a mile somewhere yet we will drive to take an exercise class. It kind of makes no sense.

But Liz, you just said YOU go to karate and you probably drive there. Yep! I do. Guilty as charged. Karate is something you need to learn with an instructor who can correct you and you need partners you can spar with to practice. Hitting a bag can only get you so far. Its just you can’t play football alone. Well you could but that’d be awkward…

So I am all for home gyms and using the great outdoors as a playground but if the thing that will get you moving requires going to a class or team to learn and do then by all means GO! Exercising with a friend or friends can also be great motivation. You don’t want to let your buddy down and the stakes are higher for not keeping your commitment. Whatever gets you off your butt!

So 150 minutes huh? That’s 2 1/2 hours or 30 minutes 5 days per week. Moderate intensity so not so hard you think you will die but definitely hard enough to sweat and not be able to hold a leisurely conversation. A few words here and there at best. That’s moderate. Walking at a stroll or slow enough to really yak it up is not moderate.

You could also get 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise (high intensity) or a combination. Some of my kickboxing and karate practice can be considered high intensity and the rest moderate. Last week I started doing the 30 minutes of kickboxing before karate so I can get 180 minutes in total.

When you’ve got that under your belt, the recommendation is to kick it up to 300 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 150 minutes vigorous exercise.

But wait! There’s more!

Weight lifting! Twice a week. Weight lifting builds both muscle and bone strength helping to prevent falls and osteoporosis. Muscle also burns more calories at rest than fat does which aids weight loss. 🏋️

The benefits:

Other than not being winded by walking across your office to the bathroom, exercise has many benefits including lower rates of all cause mortality (early death. It can’t prevent death ever), lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer and depression. It also prevents hip and spine fractures later on from osteoporosis (weak bones) and it helps with weight maintenance.

So what if you have a disability? The recommendations are the same but you will need to modify what you do based on your disability. No one gets a pass here unless you are literally dying. Then you get steak and lobster wine and whatever you want. 🥩🦞🍷 But that’s not us.

The above recommendations are from both the CDC and WHO (World Health Organization). They don’t have a profit motive. They want you to be healthy! Lower your blood pressure by exercising and eating a healthy diet and you may be able to say goodbye to those pills you’ve been choking down everyday. Let’s just say it, you probably won’t see a pharmaceutical giant seriously promoting exercise.

What if I haven’t gotten off the couch and walking to the bathroom leaves me winded? Well then you need to start small. First you need to talk to your medical provider before you start exercising. If you ah e a heart condition you can join a cardiac rehab program. My dad did this after having bypass surgery. These are supervised and you can be monitored. If you don’t need monitoring and your provider clears you (they should!) the start with 5 minutes a day of concerted effort to walk somewhere. Time it. 5 minutes. And keep walking to the bathroom too. Try doubling it week 2. Then add 10 minutes a day each week until you are walking for 30 minutes 6 days a week or more. When you are able to do more than 30 minutes per day, increase the intensity. The sky’s the limit from there!

Get moving and keep moving and you will be setting yourself up for a lifetime of improved health, stamina and longevity!!

Until tomorrow!!


30 Days to healthy living: Day 8

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink.
Today’s topic is hydration and I will keep it short and sweet!
Do you drink plain water? From the tap? Or bottled? Or flavored?
The typical recommendation is 64 oz of water per day, more if you are exercising heavily. Plain old tap water for most people is the healthiest and cheapest option. Bottled water is no better than tap water and is not regulated. Don’t waste your money. Get a reusable water bottle to carry away from home if you will be out all day. I use one that is 32 oz so I only need to refill it once to get my daily amount of water.
If you don’t like the taste of plain water because you are used to soda or sweetened drinks you will have to train your taste buds. You can use lemon or flavor drops and slowly decrease the amount you use every day or every week until you adjust to plain water to get your hydration the cheapest way possible. Being that it is cyber Monday, I bet you can get a great deal on a fancy insulated water bottle if you like. It will still be cheaper than buying bottled water and better for the environment too.
Do other drinks count? Good question and the answer is maybe. If you are in weight loss mode I suggest that you get 64oz per day of plain water IN ADDITION TO anything else you might drink like coffee or tea. Sparkling unsweetened water counts toward your 64 oz. You need the extra fluids to flush everything out. Once you are on maintenance you can probably count any liquids toward your total for the day but if you workout you will need to get more than that. On days that I exercise I drink at least 96oz.
Most of us walk around dehydrated and this can cause us to feel tired or even hungry. The next time you get that afternoon slump, trying drinking a glass of water. Trying to lose weight? Drink a full glass before each meal and then sip water throughout.
Since we are fasting all night and not drinking anything, I also highly recommend drinking a full glass of water when you wake up and one glass before bed. This is especially important if you take medication. Always drink a full glass of water with medications unless specifically instructed not to (I don’t know of any off the top of my head though).
One thing to note: there are some medical conditions which require fluid restriction. If you have been told by your medical provider to limit your fluid intake, it is with good reason. Follow their directions!! Not following an ordered fluid restriction can have significant consequences including death!
So barring a medical order not to, drink 64 oz of water per day or more. Plain water is best. Sparkling water is ok too. Add a little flavor if you need to but try to wean yourself off of flavor eventually and just drink it plain.
That’s it for today. See? Short and sweet. Stay hydrated and I’ll see you tomorrow!

30 Days to healthy living: Day 7

We made it a week!! Yay!!
I don’t think I have ever blogged this many days in a row so I am doing a happy dance here! 😀
Today lets talk about rest and stress. Are YOU stressed out? I sure am and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a significant amount of stress in their life. It always seems like life is going 10,000 miles an hour and we just. can’t. slow. down. UUUUUUGGGHHHH!!!
So since it is Sunday and the weekly day of rest that my fellow Christians and I are supposed to observe, I thought it an opportune time to take a breather and talk about it. Do you ever stop and smell the roses? In other words, do you ever take a moment to observe the world around you? Do you notice the looks on other people’s faces at the grocery store? Or the scenery on your ride to work every day? Do you work Monday through Friday and long for the weekend only to fill it up with kid activities and grocery shopping and laundry and and and… ??? Me TOO!
We need to stop. And we need to stop this now. Today. Can we please just take a break?
You see, stress is not all bad. Getting married is stressful but it’s also joyful and a celebration of life. So is having a baby. Or going on a longed for trip. Or landing a new “perfect” job. Or retiring. Or everyday things like exercising. All good things but all stressful nonetheless. We are willing to do the work for these types of stressors because we can see the reward in them. “Bad” stress is the kind that doesn’t seem to get us anywhere. Like when we schedule overselves to have our kids at soccer practice at the same time you are supposed to be in a school board meeting while also baking cookies for your church bakesale. Or we sign our kids up for an activity that starts at 5 pm but that’s when we are getting out of work and now we have to figure out how to get them there while feeding them a nutritious dinner. (My apologies to the single people out there-my examples revolve around having kids because honestly I was never stressed out before I had them…) Where are these crazy schedules getting us? The answer is nowhere good.
Over scheduling leads to meals on the run which leads to eating unhealthy fast foods and this in turn contributes to weight gain and high blood pressure and diabetes. Bad, bad, bad.
Another type of “bad” stress? Getting yourself worked up over things you can’t control. This is rampant on social media. I feel it myself. I read posts and start getting upset and have to remind myself to step away from this kind of idiocy because ultimately it has no valid bearing on my life. Read the comments on those posts that get your gills up and you will quickly see that not everyone has learned the skill to walk away…but don’t read too much, you may lose faith in humanity.
What do we do?
1. Figure out your priorities. Make a list of everything you do. I made a stack of index cards and wrote one thing on each card that I currently have on my plate. I ended up with a HUGE pile. Pick out the top 5 things that you want to include in your life each week but don’t include things you need to do to live like eating or going to the bathroom.
2. Schedule your top 5. We often get so busy with our daily stuff and then forget to include the things that we WANT to include in our lives. Put it on the calendar.
3. Consider what you can live without. What things do you do that are of little benefit? What things do you do because you’re afraid someone else will be disappointed in you if you stop doing it? What things do you do that you do because you always have but don’t really want to? Do you do anything out of guilt? I hereby give you permission to stop doing these things.
4. Choose a day of rest. A WHOLE DAY of the week to unplug and not have anything scheduled. I try to do this on Sundays. I go to church every Sunday. It’s one of my priorities. But that’s it. I keep the afternoon open. I also have a hard rule that there are absolutely no activities to be scheduled during the time that we are supposed to be at church. This kind of goes under priorities but if I allowed things to get in the way of going to church I would also likely let things get in the way of having a day of rest too. We NEED down time.
5. Learn to say no. Say it with me now, NO! No. It’s the most beautiful word. You don’t even need to give an excuse. “Do you want to join our women’s group?” No. Thank you. “Can you bake 10,000 cookies for the bake sale?” No. Thank you.  And don’t feel guilty about it!! Baking cookies gives me hives just thinking about it so this is a no brainer for me but if you are a master baker but baking 10,000 cookies was not on your radar to do and you don’t want to that day, then DON’T. No one needs 10,000 cookies anyway. Think of how many vials of insulin saved!!!
6. Pray. Prayer has been shown to reduce stress and it helps us to be mindful. Take 5 minutes everyday to quiet yourself (moms-you can lock yourself in the bathroom to pray. God doesn’t mind.) and pray. Pray about what you need. Pray about what you want. Pray a prayer of gratitude for what you have. Pray a prayer for your children banging on the door. Pray for healing of your friends cancer. Pray for whatever comes to mind. Prayer is a form of meditation in a way (I can’t meditate to save my life but I can pray!).  Its good for you. Just pray.
7. Breathe. Feel uptight? Stress causes us to chest breathe. We need to belly breathe to release it. Take a deep breath in through your nose using your diaphragm . You want your belly to expand, not your chest. You are pulling air down deep into your lungs. Hold it there for a couple of seconds, then slowly let it out. Do this a couple of times while focusing on your breath. This type of breathing helps stop the stress response in its tracks. Great while driving on Sundays and holidays especially. Or the first day that it snows when everyone forgets how to drive. Or at the grocery store the day before a holiday. Or when your kids are driving you nuts and you think you will die. I know this because a friend told me. Ok, you got me. I am that friend…
8. Eat well. Crazy eating patterns like eating in the car or in front of the TV or at your desk is terrible for you. Eat good food, sitting down, at a table and preferably with people you like. Stress interferes with digestion too so don’t eat with people you don’t like. Except your children. You have to (at least try or pretend) to eat with your children. Family meal time is a wonderful thing, however, sometimes it’s ok to send them away so you can eat in peace with your spouse. 😉 Really, though if your stomach is in a knot, digestion isn’t happening. I end up with a stomachache for hours and feel bloated. Take a few breaths. Walk away for a bit and then come back to eat if you need to. Your meal should be a mini-feast and a time to enjoy. Take pleasure in your meals! (yes, even if it’s a protein shake!)
9. Exercise! Exercise is excellent stress relief!! This should be on your calendar as a priority. 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise at a minimum. Need extra stress relief, try kick boxing or martial arts. Works for me!
10. Sleep! 7-8 hours minimum for adults. Turn off all devices at least 1 hour before bed, preferably 2. Dim the lights. No phones at the bedside. No TV in the room. You will be more resilient with adequate sleep. Without it you will be more likely to react than to respond through out the day. This is another priority item. What time do you need to get up in order to be ready to leave on time? count backwards 8 hours. This is when you should be turning off the light to go to sleep. An hour before that is when you should start your bedtime routine and hopping into bed to read or do other things you are supposed to reserve your bedroom for…
Pick one of these and start incorporating it into your life this week. Add one more thing per week. Its not an overnight process. Your bad habits and stressors have built up over time. It will take time to fix it. 10 things in 10-12 weeks. You can do this!
Tomorrow we will talk about hydration. Have a wonderful day!

30 Days to healthy living: Day 6

It’s heart health day! The number one cause of premature death in the US is cardiovascular disease. It also contributes significantly to chronic illness. High blood pressure, atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure and heart attacks and their aftermath result in people taking multiple medications which can be expensive and cause side effects. Heart disease also limits life expectancy and causes disability.
Prevention is always the best medicine and a general healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and fiber as well as stress reduction, adequate sleep and staying at a BMI of less than 25 goes a long way in preventing disease. Significant weight loss and diet change can also reverse some of the damage.
Recently I have been doing continuing medical education on nutrition and preventive medicine. I came across a webex on foods that prevent cardiovascular disease and took lots of notes so I am going to list out what this particular cardiologist who works at Johns Hopkins recommends and my take on them. I already try to include many many of these into my diet every day but some of this was new information for me.
A heart healthy diet should include:
1. Omega-3 fatty acids-fish oil, fatty fish (the BEST is sardines, salmon is second best)
2. Omega-9 fatty acids or oleic acid (ALA)- found in vegetable oils such as high oleic
sunflower oil, olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, nut oils.
3. Coconut oil-contains some unique qualities and high amounts of lauric and caproic acid that are bebeficial.  As will all oils, use in moderation. MCT oil, which has been made popular by “bulletproof” coffee, is made from coconut oil. If you don’t like the smell or taste of coconut, buy it refined.
4. PURPLE grape juice and RED wine-contains resveratrol but that’s not the whole reason it is good for you. Resveratrol supplements do not have the same benefit. Red grape products have a high ORAC value, which means it is high in antioxidants. 4oz of wine or 8 oz of grape juice. I dont’ drink juice but I do buy it for my kids. If I can’t find a red wine that doesn’t give me migraines I may consider having a glass of purple grape juice now and then…
5. Raisins! They are high in potassium and Americans generally do not get enough. We should get more potassium than sodium in our diets but it’s the opposite. We get a TON of sodium. The DASH diet has been proven to lower blood pressure but that is likely more due to the fact that it is heavy on fruits and vegetables and hence high in potassium which has blood pressure lowering effects. Only 5% of the population is sensitive to sodium so we don’t all need to be on a super low sodium diet but we definitely need more potassium. Word of caution here: too much potassium is also bad and can build up if you take a supplement. Much better to eat foods high in potassium instead unless it is prescribed to you. Then make sure you go for your blood work to monitor it!
6. Garlic-must be CRUSHED! This is the way it releases allicin which is the active heart healthy compound that magically appears when you bash a clove of garlic on it’s head. This could double as stress relief, lol.  It lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. 1-3 cloves per day. If you take a supplement and it doesn’t smell, it is worthless. Vampires beware.
7. Chocolate. DARK chocolate. In fact straight up cocoa powder that is not process with alkalai is best. I add a tablespoon or two to my protein shakes and I use cacao powder. Because I am fancy. Any brand is fine though as long as it is not processed with alkalai. It will say so on the label. 2 tbsp is best. Contains flavenols and lowers systolic blood pressure (the top number) and improves blood flow.
8. Stanols. What? It’s from plants and has been shown to lower LDL (the “bad” one) 14%. It’s only found in Benechol though and Promise Take Control. When I heard this I marched out to find some. I found Benechol at Wegmans. They have light and regular versions and as a staunch lover of butter, I really like the taste of this. 1 tbsp per day is sufficient. They use this is Europe a lot more than we do. It apparently didn’t take off here and some products were discontinued in the US due to poor sales.
9. Nuts. All nuts. Daily intake of nuts (and yogurt) is associated with long term weight loss. The fat in nuts is good for satiation which is the sensation of being satisfied. A good snack is 10-15 almonds. Whatever nuts you like, keep it to 1 ounce since they are high in calories too.
10. Soluble fiber-psyllium which is what is in metamucil. Soluble fiber is also found in fruits/vegetables and oat BRAN. Helps lower cholesterol. I buy plain psyllium powder and add it to my shakes. You have to drink it quickly though or it thickens up and you will be chewing your shake instead of sipping it!! Drink extra water too to help it work and not back up your system. Taking fiber and not drinking enough fluids can cause constipation. . Follow the dosage directions on the package but 1 tsp should equal about 5 grams. When I prescribe it I give it twice a day if someone is adamant about not wanting to take a statin.
11. Soy. This one can be controversial depending on who you listen to. It does lower cholesterol. I recommend organic soy in the form of edamame. Even my kids will eat these. You can get them frozen shelled and just heat them up. If you like lima beans, you will like these, maybe even better. Yes, I have liked lima beans since I was a kid. I’m probably the only one. Give soybeans a chance!
There you go. 11 things you can include in your diet to improve your cardiovascular health. I can’t reiterate enough that we need to get more VEGETABLES AND FRUIT in our diets! Vegetables really give you the most bang for your buck, especially leafy greens. Meat should be more of a condiment than the main event at each meal. Healthy fats should be consumed with your greens to improve vitamin absorption (some vitamins are better absorbed when you eat fat) so use your high oleic acids on your greens! And use whole grains and oat bran to improve fiber intake as well.
A study at the University of Toronto showed a significant reduction of cholesterol similar to a statin using what has been called a “portfolio diet.” It contains several of the foods I listed above and includes the intake of 45grams of nuts (about a handful), 50grams of plant protein, 20 grams soluble fiber (oat bran, psyllium, apples), and 2 grams plant sterols (Benechol margarine).  Read about it here and see the infographic here.  See! Plant foods are sooooo good for us!!
Here’s a tip when shopping: shop the perimeter. The perimeter of the store contains the best foods like produce, lean proteins at the meat and seafood counters, low fat dairy and frozen vegetables. Plot out your list and your path by what you want to be eating BEFORE you get to the store. If you wander up and down the aisles you are more likely to pick up something that looks interesting (the power of marketing!!) but isn’t really food or healthy for you. the longer you stay, the more you spend too (more marketing research!) so save your waist line, your heart and your wallet and shop the perimeter!!
There you have it. I hope you learned something interesting and useful. Tomorrow, I will discuss rest and stress. Until then, here’s to our hearts!

30 Days to healthy living: Day 5

What I eat:
When I am in weight loss mode:
am: black coffee (I flavor mine with essential oils but only use essential oils that are labeled for ingestion!!)
Arbonne protein shake with Daily fiber boost, digestion plus and either a tablespoon of peanut powder or cacao powder and cinnamon.
lunch: 2nd protein shake with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
green apple
handful almonds
water or tea
dinner:  lean protein such as salmon, tilapia, flounder, chicken breast, grassfed steak, eggs
3 cups leafy greens, often wilted with fresh pepper and Himalayan salt, drizzle of olive oil OR 1.5 cups other vegetables such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, mixed vegetables, etc..
(I honestly am not great at cooking rice. If someone else makes it I’ll have a 1/2 cup)
water or sparkling water
4 oz wine once a week
dessert: if I need something sweet I will have a small square of dark chocolate with 70% or more cacao or 5-10 Skinny Almonds and a cup of herbal tea without cream or sweetener.
Normal mode:  
am: same as above
lunch: lean protein with greens, maybe 5oz yogurt with protein bar crumbled in it.
water or tea
dinner: as above but will have 4-5 oz wine twice a week
dessert: same as above (I am a creature of habit)
I vary my vegetables a bit. I love bok choi, spinach, arugula, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, mixed greens, mushrooms, all of them really but I tend to eat a lot of one thing then move onto something else. I prefer simplicity and I don’t follow recipes that have a lot of steps or ingredient usually. Frozen veggies are generally my favorite because they don’t spoil before I can use them! I only eat corn about once or twice a year in the form of fresh corn on the cob. Corn is NOT A VEGETABLE! Its a GRAIN!! It’s also highly allergenic. I occasionally eat rice. I never eat wheat, barley or rye and rarely oats because I have celiac disease. I don’t drink soda or sweetened drinks. I also rarely drink juice and if I do it’s tomato juice with fresh cracked pepper.
Also, when on maintenance I am finding it easier to eat just 2 meals and maybe a snack. I try to go 4-5 hours between the two meals and then drink tea and water in between. I will eat something that has about 100 calories if I physically feel hungry in between and then try to wait until I am physically hungry before having my second meal of the day. On days that I have Tang Soo Do, I have a hearty post recovery snack such as a protein shake with maybe a banana. I also make sure to get extra water on days I work out.
Hot tea is excellent when you have cravings. Tea comes in every flavor imaginable and I have a tea drawer that is proof! Get yourself an electric tea kettle. I LOVE mine!
I rarely eat out (maybe once a month at best) and when I do I have to be picky because of having celiac disease. Core Life is a great place to eat out but you still have to watch what you are putting on your plate! Just because it’s salad doesn’t mean its low calorie. Creamy dressings, cheese and oils add up quickly. I like their tuna poke power plate with Brussels sprouts and salad with kimchee, no dressing.
There is a place in town that makes gluten free poutine. It is amazing and I indulge in it about twice a year. Totally worth it. Make sure to include an occasional splurge and plan for it and savor it. Don’t fast all day in anticipation of feasting or you will be famished and tempted to overdo it. It won’t be nearly as enjoyable when you do. Eat just enough of what you love to satisfy you. Small plate or tapas restaurants are great for this because portion control is built in. Or just order an appetizer as your dinner. When you don’t eat the really rich, decadent foods all the time, you can both appreciate them much more and you will find that you are satisfied much more quickly. Drink extra water when dining out because you will inevitably ingest more sodium than usual.
So, if you are following the 30 days to healthy living for weight loss, I recommend this basic plan (refer to day 2 for the what to eat details) :
breakfast: protein shake with fiber, digestion plus, cinnamon (if you like cinnamon-its’ good for blood sugar control). You can add 1/4 c. spinach if you use a blender. Or try adding 1/4 c. pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. Or half a green apple. If you find yourself hungry too soon, add 1 tsp coconut oil. Fat is satiating.
lunch: second protein shake
tea, water
dinner: lean protein and 3 cups greens or 1.5 cups other vegetables with 1-2 tsp olive oil, seasonings, 1/2 c brown rice or other whole grain.
64 oz water daily
snack only if physically hungry or eat next meal if convenient to do so. Keep snacks to 100 calories each.
Journal everything you eat!! (remember day 1!)
Tomorrow we will discuss some heart healthy foods that you may want to add to your diet every day for the long term. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of premature death and disease!! Take care of your heart!!!
Here’s to our health!!

30 days to healthy living: Day 4

“Healthy holiday eating” 
Is this really a thing? I know that anyone who has been working hard at changing their diet and losing weight will likely be looking for healthier versions of the dishes they love and that is a good thing. Pinterest is filled with healthy swaps for your favorite dishes. There are also plenty of recipes that adjust for food allergies and lifestyle preferences such as vegetarian as well. However, I am here to say that celebrating a holiday by participating in the feast is actually OK! Does grandma make the best lemon meringue pie ever and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving with out it? Then go right ahead and eat it (barring actual food allergies or celiac of course…). Whatever you do, don’t offend grandma! (I personally think there is a special place in hell for people who aren’t kind to grandmas but that’s a post for somewhere else…)
The thing is that we have to live with our lifestyle choice to be healthy all year long and part of a healthy lifestyle should be enjoying food, friends and family. Getting stressed out over a meal isn’t healthy. Guilt over food isn’t healthy. Offending the cook because they didn’t use organic grassfed unicorn tears to make the casserole isn’t healthy!
So take the day to be grateful for the feast, have a glass of wine (preferably dark dry red, up to 8 oz) and enjoy the day! Tomorrow we can pick up where we left off.
In the meantime though, one tip: If you have been following a healthy diet and do what I say above, you may experience a bit of upset stomach or bloating because your body isn’t used to eating that stuff anymore. 2 words: HOT TEA. Hot ginger tea is even better but warm beverages like tea can help with digestion and move things along to make you feel better. Also, pace yourself. You don’t have to eat everything at once. Try to make it last. Savor your food and your time at the table. Aim to take 20 minutes to eat your meal or longer (this is actually good advice for every day) and wait at least an hour to have dessert, 2 hours is probably better. Drink lots of fluids to flush out the extra sodium you are likely eating otherwise you may look like a balloon tomorrow!! And whatever you do, don’t get on a scale tomorrow!! Weighing yourself can wait until next week!
Happy Thanksgiving y’all!!