Where we get fit and spin (wool)

I am not a foodie, and never claimed to be. However, I have been told that my ability to throw stuff together is not universal, and several people have asked me what I eat. I thought I would give you my basic “go to” dish, beans, rice and whatever.

First, either soak and cook dried beans according to directions, or get out a can of beans, any kind, including baked, although they have a lot of sugar. I don’t use canned often, and if I do, I don’t rinse, since I like a lot of sauce in my food. Rinse and drain if you are worried about your salt intake. If you want to use lentils instead, cook them with the rice. Second,cook 1-2 cups of rice, according to directions. I have  a rice cooker, and never bother to measure any more. If you are using dried vegetables, or ones you want to have cooked, add them to the rice. Once these two ingredients are cooked, add any kind of tomato product; canned, fresh, dried. In a pinch I’ve used tomato soup or ketchup. Add vegetables, in any form. I like fresh onions and green pepper for the crunch. You can go southwest by adding cayenne pepper, chili powder, taco seasoning, or salsa. You can go asian by adding fish or oyster sauce, curry powder, soy sauce or whatever. This time I made rice and lentils with chili paste, dried tomatoes, dried red pepper, dried celery, and tomato soup. I’m going to add canned salmon and frozen broccoli to some of it. Or maybe all of it. You can add hamburger, tuna, chicken, whatever. You don’t need to add the meat, unless you are concerned about your protein intake.

Beans and rice can be the base for just about anything you’d like to add. I can’t think of too many things that don’t go well. Eggs are tasty in it too. Use your imagination, or use up your leftovers. You can cook up a big batch of beans and rice on the weekend, add different things to it each day and have lunch for the whole week. Don’t be afraid, if you think it’s really weird, take a half cup of the beans and rice out, add the odd ingredient and taste. If you like all the individual ingredients, you’ll probably like them together. When people complain about the cost or effort in healthy eating, I through this at them. You can’t get much cheaper than beans and rice, and since you can add any leftovers to it, you aren’t wasting any food.

Diabetes is a major problem nowadays. We could rehash all the reasons, but I have other reasons for bringing this up. To be clear, I’m talking about type II. Type one is so different in many ways we shouldn’t lump the two together. Type two is largely lifestyle generated, type 1 you are often born with. There are more distinctions than that, but it is enough for now to say we are talking in this article about type II.

First, there was this article, Health Care Law Targeting Diabetics. Don’t worry, this isn’t a “big brother is going to get you article”. In order for everyone to have health care, we will have to be stricter about taking care of ourselves, and our health care system will be more proactive. I know diabetics who know almost nothing about their disease. The doctor handed them a script and a handful of literature and sent them on their way. I know many others who educated themselves. Your doctor ought to be your primary reference, and in far too many cases, he’s not. This might be one positive result to the new health care law.

Then, there is this tantalizing article, Clues to Type 2 Diabetes Discovered on Mount Everest.  The more we learn about how our bodies work, the more we can target treatments. Let’s face it, life’s not fair, some people have horrible diets, and don’t get diabetes at all, or very late in life, and others get it very early. We know that genetics plays a role, being overweight does too, as well as diet. The more we can hone in on the interplay, the closer we get to being able to say to someone what their personal risk factor is, similar to heart disease.

Lastly, there was my experience lately with a diabetic. She told us she could not eat donuts because of it, but went ahead and had hot chocolate. She told us her daughter was diabetic, and she was an expert at “swapping carbs”, that the hot chocolate was her lunch, and that what she had was the equivalent of a sandwich and a beverage. That might work out, as far as her blood sugar is concerned, but it misses the point as far as good nutrition. It is hard if you are diabetic to avoid all sugar. There isn’t a one of us who doesn’t love desert. Not to mention bread and other starches. But outside of the fact that sugar isn’t good for any of us, and that cutting it back means you get more sensitive to it, so less really is more, there is also the question of what are you replacing it with. Food is fuel, and the better your fuel, the better you’ll run. I cringe when I hear of all the crazy things people are doing with their diets- whether it’s cutting carbs completely, no fat, no dairy, no gluten, etc. Those might be fine for a very small percentage of people- the number of actual celiac disease patients is still estimated to be 12%- but for most of us it is self-defeating and short-sighted. Food has things in it besides calories and carbs, that make you run well. Build the body today that you’ll be relying on a decade from now.

Normally, I’m prompted to write a blog post by how nuts the subject of an article is. This time, to my great joy, I’m writing because there is some common sense. I’m talking about this article I read on Yahoo Shine. Just like the bible says, “can anything good come from Nazareth?”, I wondered when the title was “Celebrity Diet Craze That Doesn’t Sound So Crazy”. However, I had to eat my skepticism (mmm, yummy and low cal) after reading it, because there is nothing in it I disagree with. I can only vouch for what Andrea Howe, the author of the article says. I did not read the actual book.

The only thing I might quibble with a bit is that, according to Andrea, not measuring food is ok. I say that’s fine at first, and if you it is working for you. However, if you hit a plateau, or are not seeing any results, measuring can help you see where your calorie intake really is. While this style of eating is what I heartily endorse (endorse, endorse, can I endorse it again?), measuring and tracking calories is the only way to know how much you are eating. As a whole though, if you are “eating clean”, or not eating processed foods, with a concentration on fruits and vegetables, while you might not be a stick, you shouldn’t be very heavy. It takes ice cream, donuts and cake to really put the pounds on. Or lots of cheese and nuts, but most heavy people I know didn’t get that way on cheese and nuts.

So, go read the article and breathe a sigh of relief. For this five minutes there isn’t any nuttiness running around.

There was an article recently on the “Fit Mom” getting temporarily banned from Facebook for comments she made about plus sized models. She didn’t feel good about endorsing or normalizing obesity. This led me back to a struggle I’ve had for years.

First, I don’t like to see anyone beat themselves up about anything. I don’t think we have to be happy where we are at, that discontent is a strong driver for change, and as a fitness professional, I know that change doesn ‘t happen without a strong driving force. Having said that, there is a strong and distinct line between being discontented with your behavior and hating yourself. Self loathing isn’t even a very good motivator for change. I know people who routinely beat themselves up for whatever they feel they are doing wrong, and it does not lead to change. From what I see, change only occurs in the positive. “I’m going to exercise three times a week” works better than “I’m going to lose all this ugly fat by Christmas”. The second might work, but often, since there is no positive framework to tie it into, people slide back into old behaviors soon after achieving their goal. I think people have the mistaken notion that hating themselves is a good motivator or necessary for change. “If I don’t hate myself, I’ll stay this way forever!” That’s just wrong.

On the other hand, I don’t think we are benefitting ourselves by making excuses. “I’m just big-boned.” “I have a slow metabolism.” “Some people aren’t meant to be thin.” It is true that everyone  isn’t meant to be a size 4, or even 8. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be very fit. I don’t hear people at the gym making excuses, even if they are “fluffy”. It’s the people who are reluctant to change that I see making the excuses.

So where is that line? Should people stop challenging each other, in order to not hurt anyone’s feelings? When does it stop being a challenge and start being a put down? I’d like to see everyone challenging themselves, but that isn’t the case.  No one likes to be called names, and name calling is not beneficial to anyone. However, if you don’t want to be called fat, or in any way referred to as overweight, you do have the power to change it. I’m NOT saying it is easy, but it is doable. Any time you tell someone “You need to change ‘x’”, it will hurt their feelings to some extent, since it means you are not accepting them, as they are, 100%. None of us like that. I can say I need to be more organized, but if you tell me I’m disorganized, I won’t like it. Is saying on face book, “I did it, so you should have no excuses” the same as saying “you’re bad”?

Some behaviors are counter productive. Should we never mention to anyone that maybe they should stop/start doing something? Is it bad to say “I’m doing ‘x’ and I think you should too”? If you feel bad about yourself, you’ll take everything as a put down, but has anything you’ve read motivated you to change?

I do think we should put everything in the most positive light possible. You are far more likely to exercise if I invite to come work out with me, rather than if I say “you should go work out”. Motivation is the hardest part of any endeavour. People climb mountains and run triathlon if they are motivated enough. Without motivation, there is no getting off the couch.

So what are your thoughts? Do you have a list of do’s and don’t’s for motivating others? What’s worked for you, or on you?  If you are on the road from fat to fit, what got you started, and what things would you like people to never say again? Let me know

…Eating Her Curds and Whey

I am in love with greek style yogurt, also called strained yogurt. You make your yogurt, or buy store-bought, put in a sieve with a paper towel, or a strainer, or in cheesecloth and drain the whey off. The result is a thicker, creamier, milder yogurt. It makes the perfect replacement for sour cream, mayonnaise, or any place you want  a rich, creamy ingredient. I use it in taco’s, chili, and sandwiches. People are in love with it for the greater protein content, but it is simply because you’ve gotten rid of much of the water, so ounce for ounce, it’s more concentrated. This makes it better for using it as a replacement for some of those fattier ingredients as far as the texture goes. It’s naturally low fat, if you are using low fat milk, so once more it’s a win- win- you are are eating something good for you as a condiment.

However, I am frugal to a fault, and the idea of throwing all that whey away bothered me. I googled uses for it, and came up with the Prairie Homesteaders blog. She suggested  using it in baking, so I tried it. I love ciabatta bread, but I don’t like keep sourdough going in my fridge. I thought, “Hmmm, whey is sour, why not try it?” So I did. It worked very well. All sour dough starter really does is add flavor, you still add yeast to make it rise. I did let it rise longer than the recipe called for, to allow for greater fermentation. I just replaced the water with whey and the bread is so good, my husband even asks for it. You also have to increase the flour slightly, at least in the recipe I used.

Don’t you Start With Me!

Head of dark green kale.

A thing of beauty

You go after my kale, and there’s going to be a fight. I eat it almost every day, in my oatmeal, stir fries, soups, etc. After reading this article about the danger of kale on Yahoo Shine, I thought, “it must be an exaggeration or a mistake.” So I read the article it’s referencing, about a woman who loved her green smoothies and ended up with hypothyroidism. Did the kale cause it? Hard to say. While there is no mistake, it does point out that health is not a black and white thing.

First, life is a fatal condition. Unless God intervenes, everyone dies. The question is, how to stay strong, active and healthy as long as possible until death. Many factors interact in that picture. Your genes are 50% of the equation, but that is the 50% you can’t control. The other half is your habits: food, exercise, smoking, sociability, and psychology. Food and exercise are at the forefront now, as we have developed a clearly unhealthy lifestyle. The parts we can control only contribute to our good or bad health, they don’t insure it. Everyone who smokes does not die early of cancer, everyone who eats healthy and exercises does not die of old age in perfect health.

Second, we love excess in this country. If some is good, more is better. That is usually a mistake. By drinking juice, you can consume more vegetables than you ever could by eating them. I’ve never been a fan of juicing, as that eliminates the fiber, which is very good for you, filling you up and balancing the natural sugars in the fruits and veggies. I’ve heard of people consuming vast quantities of fruits and vegetables by juicing. Too much of anything is just too much.

Everything in life is a balance. I will still keep encouraging others to eat their kale, because I think for most people there is absolutely no danger of overconsumption. I will personally cut mine down to 2-3 times a week, adding other veggies into the mix that aren’t goitrogenic. Both articles mention that cooking kale reduces the goitrogenic effect, and that eating brazil nuts, which contain selenium, and eating iodine rich foods, will both mitigate the effects.

Before I go, I want to give you one more article reference that I found very sound, from 90.9, WBUR, an NPR station. It was an article written by Rachel Zimmerman in response to the original kale/hypothyroidism article. In it, she has advice on what to do. It comes down to moderation in all things, including healthy things.

Post script: A friend of mine sent me an article saying the risk of goitrogenic foods is vastly overplayed, and I found a link to an interview with Dr. Jeffrey Garber, chief of endocrinology at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and he said the same thing. So, as long as you are not iodine deficient, go ahead and eat kale to your heart’s content

A couple of days ago I was watching “The Five”, an entertainment show about news on the Fox News Channel, right after the A-Rod scandal broke. It appeared to me that some of them at least, were arguing for allowing athletes to enhance themselves chemically if they wanted to. The argument was that it’s already here, lets stop playing games, selectively punishing people for not playing by the rules that no one is playing by.

One thing I love about writing this blog, is that in trying to use facts to express my opinions, I learn a lot. I was going to write a simple article about the negative effects of legalizing a dangerous practice, but I just learned it that steroid use is not hiding in the shadows. I googled “body building and steroids” looking for the hyper muscular look that characterizes body builders, and found a website talking openly about how you need to get started early and make sure you use the legal ones.

Here is a quote from that website:

The ideology of modern day sportsmen to ride on an almost invincible winning streak is also one of the greatest contributors towards the popularity of muscle building steroids.

It will not be wrong to say that there is a drastic difference in the level of competition in the bygone days and today’s times. The modern day athlete wants to develop a distinctive edge and muscle building steroids help him in his quest for success and glory. Furthermore, the audience is no longer interested in snail race, boring baseball games, low scoring matches, and average appearing sportsmen. Everyone wants to enjoy watching aggressive athletes, big hits & high scoring games, and intense competition right from the word go.

Here is another quote:

Steroids Information Online “Steroids cannot be ignored in any sport, they are reality…”

Well, my research is leading me in a different direction than I first thought. I don’t follow sports, so I wasn’t aware how pernicious the drug use was. I do know that the body building world is dominated by steroid use.

Natural-Bodybuilding-cover

You can get pretty ripped naturally.

 

 

 

But there are certain looks that don’t occur naturally.

picture of a body builder on steroids

This doesn’t happen naturally

Any woman can tell you the steroid look is not attractive. It’s like women trying to be as thin as possible. Guys like curves. Women like men that don’t have big ropy veins sticking out everywhere. The cartoon superhero look doesn’t fly in real life. But I digress, the point is, in competitive body building the use of steroids is so overwhelming that a separate competition was started for natural body building.

After coming to the conclusion that the use is so widespread that the argument of any punishment is selective, what then? Should we legalize it and let the chips fall where they may? Should we entice people to play sports with large sums of cash, knowing they are selling the long-term health? You could argue, based on what the NFL is experiencing, that there is no difference for them. Football players end up physical wrecks, with bad knees, backs, shoulders and concussion related problems. Is that any different than dropping over with a heart attack at 50 from the ‘roids?

very large body builder

Do we want this to go to extremes?

Well, let’s try and play this one out to its logical conclusion. If it is legalized, then the use will come out in the open. Young people will want to emulate their sports heroes and parents, hoping for a future in sports for little Johnny will get him on the medical regime as soon as possible. The only saving grace to this potential nightmare is if they start too soon, it will stunt bone growth, so they at least will wait till optimum height is reached. In any case, in one generation, we will get to see the potential results from mass use in young people. Let’s say by some miracle, this doesn’t happen, and they wait till they get to the minor leagues to start. If everyone does it, it will be the guy who uses the most or best who wins. Isn’t that a cute little arms race to start? And what would the ultimate end of that be? And don’t tell me it’ll only be professional athletes who will be doing it, we already know that isn’t true.

The arguments about this mirror the arguments about legalizing drugs. We will get to see how that plays out here in America, as two states have legalized recreational use, along with many others who have legalized it for medicinal reasons. There are those who would legalize it all, on the basis of then it would be controlled and would take it out of the hands of the drug cartels, eliminating the crime that accompanies it. While I agree that in both cases, our attempts to stamp it out by making it illegal seem futile, legalizing wouldn’t decrease the use in the slightest, and I can’t see how it wouldn’t increase it. We are not rational, intellectual creatures, weighing the pros and cons. We are emotionally driven, and there is a lot of drive to do the wrong things.

Many people wouldn’t even say these things are wrong. According to the proponents, many people use steroids without any side effects. I find that hard to believe. If we are so concerned with any hormones or additives to our food, which may or may not be absorbed by the human body, how can we not be concerned with substances which so dramatically and visibly change the human body? While making them illegal isn’t stopping anyone, it is at least having a dampening effect, and maybe that is the most we can hope for. At least until we stop paying athletes more than the scientist that might cure your cancer.

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