Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Elimination Won’t get You There.

I’m going to be nice. If you are on a diet where you have to avoid something, I won’t pick on you. Many people have to avoid certain foods for lots of reasons. If you think it is making you healthier, well, that depends on what you are replacing the banned food with.

This post was prompted by my amusement over my husband’s creamer bottle, proudly stating iIMG_4611t is gluten and lactose free. If you have celiac disease, or are lactose intolerant, that’s a good thing to know. However, if you think for one moment that either of those things makes creamer healthy, it doesn’t.  First, the ingredient list is closer to a chemistry classroom than a kitchen, and second, sugar is a top ingredient. Third, I don’t know how quickly you’d go through a quart bottle, but in our house, it’s about a one a week. I did the math. That’s 35 calories a serving, times 63 servings, 2,205 calories a week. That’s a whole days worth of calories in one extra ingredient. That is a perfect example of little things adding up.

Getting back to the “Free” business. Just because something doesn’t have an ingredient that is on your personal no-no list, doesn’t make it a good product. I know vegans that live on brownies and potato chips, since they make vegan versions. White bread is vegan, and there are a multitude of reasons to not eat it.

I’m lactose intolerant, so I might get enticed by our little creamer here, except for all the problems already mentioned. Nowadays there are dozens of options, from lactase pills, lactose free milk, soy, almond, coconut and rice milk. Since I look to milk for protein, carbs, and calcium, I opt for soy. Most almond milk, no matter how fortified, doesn’t have the same profile. When you decide something is off your eating list, you have to carefully consider what to put in its place.

Another example. Sugar is very bad for you. I could show you all the studies, but it is like using rocket fuel in grandma’s sedan. Unless you are very, very active, you won’t use it, and it will raise your blood sugar and increase the odds you’ll get diabetes. Like everyone else on this planet, I have a strong desire for sweets. So what to do? Rather than substituting something else, I try to keep the quantity of real sugar to a minimum. I try to avoid “mindless” sweets, and save my sugar for the “good stuff”, in my case, chocolate.

I found another funny example. Look. It’s a sensible choice. No fat, no cholesterol, no trans fat. Must be good, right? Turn it over and read the label. IMG_4646

IMG_4647 Twenty seven grams of sugar in a one third cup serving. That is identical to a Snickers candy bar. If you are trying to lose weight, fine. A snickers has 250 calories. If you are striving for all over health, and healthy foods, no.

I love my cranberries. I put them in almost everything. However, I don’t put 1/3 of a cup in. They are a condiment, and a source of sugar. I do try and eliminate certain foods, sugar being one, so I try and keep that overall amount of added sugar down to 25 grams. I wouldn’t want to  blow all of that on one serving of cranberries!

Moral of the story? Don’t trust labels or eliminating specific categories of food to make you healthy. Eat mostly vegetables, then fruit, then grains, meats and dairy and finally sweets. Read the labels. Learn all you can. Whatever your favorite belief system is about food, read the criticism of it and see if it is accurate. If you aren’t getting the results you want, rethink what you are doing. Don’t follow fads. Keep trying.

Advertisements

Faith in Things Unseen

So I haven’t written in awhile, I’ve been so busy going back to school. However, an event today spurred me, since it is too long for a Facebook post.

I put a pond in about two years ago.IMG_4334

This is what it looked like in the beginning of summer, after I got two koi to add to my gold fish. The little colored specks are the fish. I get very attached to them. The light colored one towards the back, that’s Blondie. I really didn’t think she’d made it through the winter. Every time I thought she was gone, she fooled me. Other ones did die, I bought 6 more goldfish at the beginning of this summer, along with the koi.

All this time, I’ve wanted to deepen it. I felt we were too hasty to get it done and didn’t dig it deep enough. Especially since I kept finding dead fish in my pump, which I kept in the deepest part. I felt the fish were trying to get in there to hide from predators.

Well, I hadn’t seen a fish in weeks. Yesterday I put water clarifier in, the pond was very green. It must not have been enough, it only lightened the green, it didn’t make it disappear the way it did previously in the above picture. Today, I was convinced the fish were gone, and I thought “Now’s my chance to dig it deeper, with no fish to worry about.”

Can you guess where this is going? Oh me of little faith. Not only was Blondie and one of the koi alive, but someone had been busy. There were at least 5 goldfish that I had never seen before. Very little goldfish. I couldn’t have been more proud if I had hatched them myself.

empty pond, looking awful.

See that little muddy hole? There was still one more fish in there after I scooped all the others out. I never found him till I was done and started putting everything back.

Of course, I have to give credit to my helper.My long suffering husband. I'm sure this is not how he expected to spend his Sunday afternoon. Once my husband saw I was determined to do this, he came out to help.

IMG_4607

It was all worth it in the end.

I even made a new hiding place for them. Now they don’t have to commit suicide in the pump to get away from bad guys. Moral of the story: Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it is isn’t there. And it might just be better than you thought. And you can make all the spiritual allegories you want. I will, and do.

IMG_4610

“Should I Juice?”

This is what a friend of mine asked me recently. Since I am obsessed with fitness and nutrition, I would have thought this question had been answered and settled long ago. I forget for people who don’t think about this stuff all the time, this might be the first time they heard of juicing. I have two answers. One, you’re a grownup, do what you want, and two, no, it won’t do what people are telling you it will do.

I told my friend that if what she wanted to do is fast, sure, go ahead. She said, “No, this isn’t fasting, as least they don’t say it is”. Let me assure you,unless you are on TPN, if all you are consuming is two glasses of juice a day, you are fasting. Or even three glasses. Just drinking the juice of a plant or fruit in limited quantities is not enough calories for a day. And yes, you will lose tons of weight, since you are not eating enough. And yes, you will gain it all back, plus some, the minute you resume normal eating because while you were fasting, you weren’t establishing better eating habits and you probably weren’t exercising because you felt like a limp noodle.

So my friend said, “what if I put it all in a blender and make a smoothie?” Well, that is better, at least you are getting the fiber and bulk, and that will slow down all that sugar from hitting your bloodstream at once, but still, what have you learned? Are you planning on eating that way the rest of your life? What is your transition plan? Plus, all those foods are delicious. Why put them into a blender and end up with something you can barely tolerate?

That brings me to my next point- most people pushing juicing are doing so to sell something. Either a powder to add to the juice, or a juicer, or their book. Anytime you see a “new” diet method, follow the money. What are they selling.

So, juice or smoothie if that’s what you love. Remember it has calories, so if you are adding juice to your diet, replace something else. In fact, you want me to support your juicing, tell me it replaced doughnuts in your life, then I’ll be on board all the way! A fruit and vegetable smoothie is a GREAT replacement to 90% of what Americans eat for breakfast. Add some yogurt or protein powder and have that. I’m not against those things by themselves, I’m against people trying to lose weight with JUST those, and no plan. Remember the “sensible meal” part, and learn what that is.

It’s Never Enough

Our society jokes about being “OCD”, and obsessive compulsive disorder figures in many tv shows like Monk, so it’s a familiar concept to many people. I’m not going to talk about the psychiatric disorder, but rather its precursor that is in all of us, that need to have or do more.

I have several friends who have Christmas villages that take over their houses every Christmas. It may take them months of free time to set up and take down. Yet, there is always something else to get for the village. As far as I know, they are still collecting.

My mother had anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder where there is no stopping the desire to lose weight by not eating. Their only goal is to lose weight, and there is no reasonable end point.

No reasonable end point. That’s the problem, isn’t it? While we get aggravated by the perceived slackers in our society, even they will play video games till they lose jobs or need Redbull to go on. It’s what appalls us about capitalism, that no matter how much money a person or a company makes, it’s never enough. It’s a biological drive run amuck, or subverted in ways we don’t see anymore. It’s why athletes take drugs to do more, it’s at the root of addiction, it’s why people amass huge collections. It can make people either impressive or pitiable. It took us to the moon, and causes there to be a “1%”. It is part of our nature, for better or worse, once you look for it, you see it everywhere.

We always talk about obsessive behavior in terms of the rewards. Hoarders supposedly have a sense of loss that the stuff around them staves off. Of course, if your obsessively focused behavior gains you money or status, the payoff is obvious, but I would suggest it is a drive, like hunger, and that the payoff is in satisfying it. I know for myself, I have that driven feeling very strongly, but fortunately I can channel it any number of ways, although once something takes hold, it is hard to stop it. I “need” to make things, and I “need” to exercise. I put those in quotes, as they both have the type of urge in them. It is an emotional/mental need for me, that if I don’t do it, I can’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t make anything during the last semester, I subverted all my drive into school. I literally went on a creative bender once school ended.

I usually like to end my blog entries with a solution. But is this a problem? I picked some examples that can end in problems, but the drive itself can lead to great things. I just want to float the idea, to get it out there for others to play with. Maybe if we start thinking about the drive itself, instead of its objects, maybe we can get a better handle on it.

What are your drives? Do you know the feeling I’m talking about? That need to do the thing,  that is gets you out of bed in the morning and what you go to sleep thinking about? Is it your motivation, or your bane?

The One you Feed

Alert- this  post features Christian thought.

So our Sunday school lesson this morning is on Psalm 119:9-16. I was struck by these verses, “9  How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!”

I was thinking how hard it is for me to memorize bible verses, and what it means to hide God’s word in your heart. It made me think about the story of the Two Wolves, an old Indian legend about the war in the human heart being a war between two wolves, one good and one bad, and the one that wins is the one you feed. Reading God’s word is feeding the good wolf.

I don’t know how many of you know about neural plasticity, the idea that our brain actually reshapes as we learn, a blessing since we don’t grow new neurons, and damage does occur. When we learn things, our brain makes new physical connections between the neurons. When someone has a stroke, other parts of their brain can “rewire” to take over for the damaged parts, making connections to cover those lost areas. We can see this happening for physical tasks, like walking, talking and feeding yourself. This also true of the more nebulous things like feelings, personality and remembering phone numbers.

This time of year is difficult for me, I get sad and maudlin. All the negatives in my life, from childhood to mistakes in raising my own children rear up and assault me in the emotionally charged atmosphere of holidays. Last night I did not allow those thoughts to take over, instead, I found the things that gave me pleasure, and focused on those. I have not had an alcoholic beverage in over 20 years, and I was musing on how quickly a bad mood  of such magnitude could arise as to cause fleeting thoughts of it to pass through. Through long experience I knew other choices to make, and made those instead, reinforcing the positive pathways in my brain.

Feelings come and go, we can stoke the good ones, and tamp down the negative ones. Our decision making ability is the one thing under our control. We can’t control emotions springing up, but, like water, we can channel those emotions so they can become positive things. We can choose what thoughts we allow, and where our thoughts will go. Thoughts are what trigger emotions. If you don’t believe me, just think about whether you turned the stove off, or if a bill is overdue!  If we spend time in God’s word, or around positive people, or reframe our experiences for the positive, we can remake our thoughts. Reframing means changing the context of a thought. For example, I can think “my friend didn’t call me because she is angry with me”, causing a cascade of negative feelings, or I can think “my friend didn’t call me, because like me, she is busy and had no reason to call”, causing no feeling. In other words, don’t go borrowing trouble.  If any of you are suffering from depression, I don’t mean to make it sound easy, I have been there, I know you need help getting a foothold on that ability to reframe.

Which brings me to my last thought. Every time I read about a person changing their life, it comes down to making up their mind to do so.  But most of them had tried changing more than once. Most of the people who succeeded had failed previous attempts. I really think it is like Dumbo’s magic feather. For those that don’t know, Dumbo was an elephant whose enormous ears allowed him to fly, but he didn’t believe he could, so his friend gave him a “magic feather” and convinced him it gave him the power of flight. I think most of us just need a magic feather. You have to have faith that you aren’t in this alone, that you can do what it is you are attempting, and that it will work. Without that faith, attempts fail. I had tried to quit smoking numerous times before I succeeded. Someone said to me “don’t smoke, even if your butt falls off”, and that thought carried me through. It reframed the situation for me. Instead of thinking “can I get through stressful situations without a cigarette?”, it became “nothing is more important than quitting.”

Of course, as a Christian, I believe God is the ultimate object to have faith in. If anyone is familiar with 12 step therapy, you know that they frame it as a higher power, which can be anything outside yourself. Sometimes you need a “subcategory” of something to have faith in, like the fact that others have done what you are doing, or that the process is worth it.

I wrote all of this to pass on what it has taken me years to learn, and what benefits me on a daily basis, as someone who has suffered from anxiety and depression, who did go down the road of addiction and come back. I hope my explanation is clear, and that you might get some benefit from it.

A guy’s thoughts on the ‘Thigh Gap’

…And here’s reality from a guys perspective! Thanks JR!

Straight Talking Fitness

Apparently you ladies want to have your own thigh gap?

Apparently it represents health, happiness and even sexiness?

Apparently if you’re a chick without a thigh gap, you’re less of a woman, right?

That’s the thigh gap fad talking. Not me. 

Enjoying the company of some girls the other day, they referred to a magazine image that supposedly portrayed “feminine perfection” – or words to that effect.

I’m not sure of the exact image, but it looked a little something like this……………

Okay okay, maybe I’m stretching it a touch…………….

Yes. That’s more like it! There’s your classic, stereotypical thigh gap magazine type image.

“Wouldn’t it be great to have legs like that?!”

“Oh HELL yeah! Guys love it!”

Hang on a minute!

Being a relatively young and heterosexual guy, if there was ever a time my input could or would be relevant, it was now. And if that didn’t…

View original post 369 more words

Live Long and Prosper

In case you haven’t figured it out, my obsession with fitness is about living longer. Or, rather, living perfectly healthy to the day you croak. I don’t really care about the exact number of years. I am a bible believer, so I think I am going to a better place, so leaving here isn’t terrifying. What is terrifying, is the idea of spending my last few years unable to care for myself or know that I can’t care for myself. I am around older people all the time, and I can clearly see the last few years can vary WILDLY. If you are 79, you could be in a wheel chair or showing off in physical therapy after your knee replacement. (Both examples of what I’ve seen just this week).

Anyway, Yahoo got me, as they always do, with a link to this article encapsulating some findings of things that will extend your life. It isn’t often that I feel the need to blog after reading “7 ways to…” or “10 things that…” but it was one paragraph that got me:

Low expectations boost happiness. When researchers monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they played a game, they found the degree of happiness players experienced when they won depended on their expectations: the lower the expectations, the happier they were about winning. In the real world, scientists say, people with low expectations are likely to derive more pleasure from receiving gifts or going on vacation. “Happiness depends not on how well things are going,” says neuroscientist Robb Rutledge, “but whether things are going better or worse than expected.”

This plays into one of my strongest beliefs; that how happy we are depends on our expectations. You’ve seen the YouTube videos of the kids opening presents and saying “Is that it?”. It’s true. Nothing you get will make you happy if it doesn’t match or exceed your expectations. conversely, very little in real life can make you as miserable as anticipating negative events.

I believe one of the eastern religions teach something like this, they tell their followers to want nothing, that the end of all desires is the path to happiness. I don’t agree with that, but keeping your expectations in line with reality is definitely preferable to being wildly optimistic or pessimistic.

It has been my experience that having realistic expectations is a function of age. I don’t think I was capable of it when I was younger. I have definitely mellowed with age. I don’t get wildly excited, and I don’t get as low either.

What do you think? Is it “all in our heads”? Are we as happy as we make up our minds to be? Or are we controlled by external factors-are we “made happy” by good things happening and made miserable by the bad? Can we consciously control our happiness by changing our expectations? Or are there other factors I’m leaving out? Let me know.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: