What’s your plan to eat clean this summer?

What’s your plan to eat clean this summer?

It’s official—Summer has arrived!  Yeah! Time to spend with family and friends—and you know what that means… Vacations, BBQs, Weddings, Summer Cocktails, Holidays.

How do we navigate all the TEMPTATION?!  It’s time to put on our big girl panties (or big boy tightie-whities) and develop a winning strategy to eat clean this summer before we find ourselves underwater.  Is it possible to celebrate without booze?  Well, of course it is if you want to. Is it possible to have fun without the cake?  The answer is YES but how to do it is the question.

How do we stay focused on our goals? Well, the key to this is discovering our Triggers.  What is it that you sets you off?  What is it that is impossible to say NO to, or, opens the door for other things that are not on your clean eating plan?

For example, have you ever noticed that the mini bar in your hotel room actually knows your name ~ and calls out to you?  Maybe even whispers sweet nothings in your ear until you succumb?!  Yes… seeing all that sweety-salty stuff are Triggers that can seduce the best of us. Solution?  Have it removed (or at least the contents) when you check in to the hotel.  You can even have that arranged before you arrive.  No Trigger, No Temptation, No Trouble!
First step is to know what your Triggers are. C’mon, that’s not too hard to figure out, is it?
sugar_gateway
Then it’s time to make some decisions IN ADVANCE as to how you want to deal with them.  (Warning: do not wait until you are in the situation. This ranks with going grocery shopping when you are hungry… not a smart idea)
Set up your guidelines and then ask someone to support you so you can be more accountable during the event.  Here are some ideas:
  • “I’m going to eat in advance.” Protein and fats are most satisfying and helps avoid temptation.
  • “I’m going to have 3 bites of my mom’s brownies.” Determine what you will eat/drink and how much of it.
  • “I’m taking my favorite salad to the party.” Take your own food/drink with you.
  • “I’m going to have one glass of wine.” Make it a spritzer by adding a little club soda and lime. (Not only is alcohol liquid sugar but it lowers our resistance to other Trigger foods)
  • “I’m going to go for a 45 minute walk before dinner.  Want to come with me?”  Make time to move – exercise with a friend!
You are worth your goals. You can reach them without sacrificing a good time. Remember, food is not the only way to have a great time.  Focus on your friends and family. And let the Love in!
BIG FAT LIES ABOUT YOUR DIET – LIE #3

BIG FAT LIES ABOUT YOUR DIET – LIE #3

LIE #3: WE NEED TO EAT WHOLE GRAINS FOR HEALTH, ESPECIALLY TO GET ENOUGH FIBER

Growing up, we didn’t have whole grain bread in our house. There was no such thing. There was “brown” bread but I didn’t eat that. Yuck. The whiter the bread, the better as far as I was concerned.

Then we were told that whole grains were healthier for us and although it took a little time and a lot of marketing dollars, we ate that brown bread and even started to love it. According to a 2015 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council, 67% of Americans think that whole grains are the most important item to look for on packages and 70% are trying to consume more whole grains.

Wow. That’s a lot of people to turn around to believe that grains are nutritious — but hold on a minute. What if that is not true?

Regardless of what we’ve been taught, grain products (yes, even whole grain) actually have very little nutritional value compared to vegetables, meat, nuts and seeds. In fact, grains contain anti-nutrients that prevent the absorption of minerals.

Grains also contain very little dietary fiber. Even those particular whole-grain foods that are thought of as rich in fiber hold no comparison to the percentages found in fruits and vegetables. A medium artichoke can contain over 10 grams of fiber at only 60 calories where a cup of brown rice has a measly 3.5 grams of fiber and almost twice the calories. At 64 calories a cup of raspberries has about 8 grams of fiber, while those two slices of whole grain bread you’re using to make a sandwich has about 140 calories and less than 4 grams of fiber.

Why are we so convinced that grains are good for elimination? Because after we eat them, they expand with water and push stuff through our system, making a big splash on the other end. Good? Not necessarily. It’s not insoluble fiber volume from grains that we need for quality digestion, absorption and elimination. We need good bacteria that feed on the soluble fiber of vegetables and fruit for the health of our gastrointestinal system.

So if we don’t need grains for nutrition or fiber, what do we eat them for? Simple answer: taste. Grains can be processed into some of the most delectable concoctions that trigger dopamine responses and have us begging for more! And this would be great except… there’s a downside. Grains can be downright harmful.

The problem with whole grains:

  • Difficult to digest and cause irritation and inflammation
  • Linked to leaky gut syndrome (a root cause of auto-immune disease)
  • Often high in calories and extremely processed
  • Loaded with gluten, which can damage the intestinal lining
  • Rapidly spikes blood sugar
  • Contain anti-nutrients
  • Linked to several brain diseases

So don’t be fooled with the marketing stamps like “heart healthy” or “full of fiber” or best yet, “organic” plastered across the packages of grain products – they ain’t gonna do your body any favors. Instead, opt for some healthy, fiber-filled foods that don’t come from whole grains:

  • Strawberries, raspberries & blueberries
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Apples (with skin)
  • Sweet potatoes & yams
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Artichokes
  • Peas
  • Broccoli

The bottom line is that whole grains don’t translate to healthy and they certainly aren’t the best source of fiber out there. So next time you’re thinking of reaching for that whole grain bagel, reach for a piece of fresh fruit or a salad instead. Your gut and your colon will thank you!

Recommended reading: Grain Brain by David Perlmutter and Wheat Belly by William Davis

Finding Time to be Fit

Finding Time to be Fit

The term “Time Management” is hilarious. How exactly do we manage Time? First of all, is there such a thing as Time? Isn’t it just an idea that we made up? Isn’t Time a construct of our collective agreement to understand, track and ultimately control our destiny?

Well, yes it is. We create our destiny with the choices we make with our time today. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we all waste a great deal of time. And I’m not talking about laying around doing nothing… which I happen to believe is a GREAT way to spend time! Instead, we squander this precious resource doing things that have the appearance of productivity but do nothing to move us closer to our goals or make us any happier with our lives.

Studies show that the average person wastes about 3 hours per day from small interruptions throughout their workday. The National Association of Professional Organizers says we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items. All this waste in spite of the fact that the average person uses 13 different methods to control and manage their time.

A significant way that we manage and control our time is by using a calendar or scheduling system of some kind. If you have something important to do, you put it in your schedule, right? Right.

So if I wanted to know what you value most in your life, all I’d need to do is look at your schedule. How you choose to spend your time is evidence of what is important to you. NOTE: Not what you say is important to you, what actually is important to you.

You say that your health is important to you? Let’s look at your calendar. Let me see… oh, nothing there? Your health, your fitness, your weight, and even your body image can all be explained now. You’ve got to put it in your schedule. Every day.

When my son was 10, he started playing the guitar. One day, he came to me and wanted to negotiate more TV time. He told me that his friends got to watch 4 to 6 hours of television a DAY and he didn’t think it was fair that he only got an hour a week.   I asked him, “What would happen if you played your guitar for 4 – 6 hours a day?” He said, “I’d be the best guitar player in the world!” “Okay, great, you choose: would you like to be the best guitar player in the world, or the best TV watcher in the world?” He’s a pretty good guitar player.

How do you create time to be healthy and fit? Here are some ideas to put in your calendar:

  • Food shopping
  • Food prep time (including some precooking time so you need less time later)
  • Meal times (Whaaaaat?! Why not?!)
  • Cardio workouts
  • Resistance training
  • Walking
  • Playing
  • Sleeping (yes, you need more sleep)
  • Massage (or some other wonderful, relaxing treat!)
  • Meditation, prayer, journaling

Now I know you’re thinking, “I don’t need to actually put it in my calendar.” Yes, you do. Unless of course, you have already met all your health and fitness goals, then by all means, carry on!

Then there are those of you who are saying, “But I have no time!” Yes, time is limited but remember, this is about values. What is most valuable to you? That doesn’t mean it gets the most time (that’s seldom possible) but it does need to get some time. The trick is to write it down in your schedule.

This Time Management trick can also be applied to other areas of your life that you want to experience a shift in. You say you want to write a book? Put it in your schedule! You say you want a relationship? You need to allot time for that too. After all, how would anyone know how much you care about them if you don’t make room for them in your calendar?

If you spend your money on worthy investments, you reap the rewards. If you spend your time on worthy investments, you reap the rewards there too. Time may fly but remember, you are the pilot. Bon Voyage!

Snack Attack

Snack Attack

We’ve been Snack Attacked. We now live in a nation called Snackland, who’s Constitution guarantees the right to snack. Snacking is the new normal and there seems no way to turn the Mother Snack Ship around.

There was a day when there was no such thing. Of course, there was a day we didn’t have smart phones either, you say, but who wants to go back there? No one it seems. Snacking has hijacked the nutritional landscape. We don’t even question if we should snack – the only question seems to be what we should snack.

Snacking has increased over the last 30 years and become a $124 Billion industry. A 2010 study showed that many children snack as much as 6 times per day. SIX TIMES PER DAY!

I know lots of kids that don’t even eat meals. They just snack all day. Parents complain that their kids aren’t hungry at meal time (surprise!) and they get worried – they would rather feed them snacks than have them starve. But is that really the choice? Snack or starve? Really?

Snacks are used as rewards, distractions, and even regarded as key components of a “healthy” diet. No matter what age, snacks have become a part of our daily routines. When I was a kid, I didn’t ask my mom for a snack… it wasn’t part of the vernacular then. And even if I did ask for something to eat, the answer was, “No, you don’t want to spoil your dinner.” Am I the only one?

Now snacks are an event. Snack Time is actually par with Bed Time. And I’m not just talking about for kids. Grabbing a snack has become a way of life due to busy lifestyles where on-the-go eating is routine.

Some snack foods were originally created out of necessity. For instance, crackers were a snack developed as a staple for long sea voyages. Popcorn helped attract moviegoers, saving the movie theatre industry from collapsing during the Great Depression. However, the reasons for snacks have become far less legitimate. We’re bored. We’re lonely. We are looking for comfort.

America’s favorite snack foods include chips, cookies, popcorn, bread, chocolate, and ice cream—all of which are processed and filled with sugar, sodium, and all kinds of additives. Snackland is addicted to convenience and sugar and corporations will happily crank out Twinkies and Fruit Roll-ups and “healthy” Granola Bars to satisfy the need. Unfortunately, the effects of grabbing one of these “snacks” can have dire consequences.

Dangers of Commercial Snacks:

  • Weight gain
  • Tooth decay and cavities
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Gastritis
  • Ulcers
  • Indigestion and inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Accelerate aging process

So do we truly need to snack? The answer is no, not really. Our bodies are designed to go for long periods of time without food. When we snack all of the time, our body never gets the chance to digest completely, let alone burn body fat for fuel. Snacking makes it difficult to lose weight and stay healthy.

Three meals a day that include a mixture of protein and fat are ideal and should keep you feeling satisfied. However, if you find yourself hungry between meals then it is okay to eat but remember, not all snacks are created equal. A snack is not a processed concoction of chemicals, sugar, and industrial oils. In fact, a snack shouldn’t stray too far from what you’re having for your meals. A great snack is a vegetable/fruit, protein, and healthy fat.

To keep your body healthy and happy switch out those salty potato chips for an apple, some celery sticks with almond butter, or a few slices of turkey. It’s time to change the definition of “snacks” and start using them as fuel rather than rewards or entertainment.

How often do you feel the need to snack? What are your favorite healthy snacks?

 

 

 

BIG FAT LIES ABOUT YOUR DIET – LIE #2

BIG FAT LIES ABOUT YOUR DIET – LIE #2

LIE #2: EATING CHOLESTEROL RAISES YOUR CHOLESTEROL

How many of us have opted for egg whites at breakfast because we’re told that the dreaded “C” word is in the yokes? It’s been ingrained in our brains that eating cholesterol raises cholesterol. On top of that, we’ve been warned that consuming too much cholesterol-rich food leads to heart disease and other significant health problems. This mainstream myth has resulted in healthy foods such as whole eggs, shellfish and saturated fats (like animal fats and coconut oil) being villainized and taken off the table.  However, when these advantageous foods are tossed out, we don’t get to reap the health benefits they provide.

FACT: Our bodies actually make cholesterol because we need it — a whopping 75% is produced by our livers. Very little cholesterol found in our bodies is from the eggs, meat, or shellfish we consume. In fact, even if you never touched any of these foods, you could still have high cholesterol simply because that’s just the way your body is. Countless studies have shown that dietary cholesterol does not significantly affect blood cholesterol levels or raise the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

Cholesterol gets such a bad rap, that many people have never heard how important it is. It’s a compound that is vital in helping our bodies produce hormones (such as estrogen, testosterone, and cortisone), cell membranes, vitamin D, and bile acids that aid in digesting fat. It also plays an important role in our neurological functions and helps us to form memories.

Benefits of cholesterol:

  • Builds cell membranes
  • Produces and balances hormones (including the ones that manage stress levels!)
  • Helps our metabolisms work efficiently
  • Increases brain function and development
  • Levels moods by stabilizing neurotransmitters
  • Produces vitamin D
  • Produces bile acids that help digest fast and absorb nutrients
  • Maintains intestinal wall
  • Critical to repair damaged cells

So why have we been taught that cholesterol is bad and we should avoid eating it at all costs? Well, it’s based on old science (from half a century ago) and a desperate desire to stop cardiovascular disease. Although I applaud the desire, it’s time to look at the real culprit: inflammation. Yes, cholesterol builds up in the arteries and can cause blockages but the build up is due to inflammation.

If there is construction on the highway and the road narrows, eventually there will be a slow down of cars, yes? And maybe even a collision or two due to all the congestion. Cholesterol is like the cars on the road, minding their own business. It’s the construction that causes the pile up, not the cars.

Did you know that most heart attacks actually occur in people with low cholesterol? Not only is cholesterol a natural and vital substance in our bodies, but it’s necessary to keep our bodies healthy. Lowering one’s cholesterol too much can be even more dangerous than having high cholesterol. So stop eating foods that cause inflammation and get back to eating those egg yolks for breakfast!

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, do your homework. I highly recommend Jimmy Moore’s book: Cholesterol Clarity where he interviews several doctors and experts in the field.

What cholesterol-rich foods have you been told to stay away from? Any other Big Fat Lies you want exposed? Share in the comments below!

Lose Weight by…Doing Nothing?!

Lose Weight by…Doing Nothing?!

While diet and exercise are well known to be key components to weight management, there is another major player that doesn’t get it’s fair share of glory: Sleep.

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. Our performance, how we look, the way we feel and ultimately our health are all influenced by how much sleep we get. While 9+ hours of sleep each night is ideal, less than 7 can leave us feeling foggy and irritable in the morning. But the consequences of sleep deprivation go way beyond waking up cranky. Countless studies have found that lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, slower reaction times, depression, cancer… and more.

Our bodies need sleep in order to reboot and repair. Think of sleep as a miracle drug with restorative powers. While we’re catching ZZZs, our bodies are working to regulate blood pressure, promote faster healing and muscle repair, and keep our memories sharp. It’s no coincidence that when we get a good night’s sleep we wake up feeling rejuvenated and just generally happier.

Benefits of sleep:

  • Contributes to weight loss and curbs carb cravings
  • Boosts mood and eradicates depression
  • Reduces blood pressure and stress levels
  • Reverses type II diabetes and minimizes the risk of heart disease
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Promotes faster healing and stronger immunity
  • Improves memory
  • Prevents cancer

While it provides a plethora of benefits, getting enough sleep is a lot easier said than done. With laptops, TV screens, and Smart Phones all around us it can be all too tempting to scroll through our Twitter feeds or watch that new episode of Scandal in bed. However, letting the hours tick by with these artificial lights isn’t doing our bodies any favors. And while a nightcap might seem like a good way to unwind after a long day, alcohol may induce sleepiness but it’ll disrupt your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and leave you feeling restless. Just like nutrition and exercise, sleep is a vital element to a healthy lifestyle and it’s essential we give our body the time it needs to reset and revive.

How to get more sleep:

  1. Establish a routine. Consistency lets our bodies know when it’s time to wind down and when to wake up.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Avoid large meals late in the evening. Opt for a light snack rather than heavy carbs prior to bed.
  4. Turn off electronics. Not only are they distracting and rob us of sleep, but the artificial lights can mess with our circadian rhythm (a fancy term for our internal body clock).
  5. Cut down on caffeine.
  6. Put away the wine. Alcohol leads to a disrupted sleep so choose an herbal tea or hot water with lemon instead.
  7. Avoid sugar. It will keep you awake and spike your blood sugar.
  8. Keep the bedroom on the cooler side. Between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
  9. Try a soothing activity like journaling or meditation if you can’t fall asleep.

Sleep benefits our weight, health, heart, and mind so while it may seem counterproductive, we need our ZZZ’s to stay healthy both mentally and physically. Try some of the tips above tonight to get a good night’s sleep so when that alarm clock goes off, you’re ready to take on the world. Nighty-night!

What is your favorite nighttime ritual that helps you sleep? Share in the comments below!

Big Fat Lies About Your Diet: Lie #1

Big Fat Lies About Your Diet: Lie #1

LIE # 1: EATING FAT MAKES YOU FAT

It made sense, so we bought it.  If we eat fat, we will get fat. Simple logic. Then the dreaded 3-letter word got linked with things like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes—fat was clearly the enemy.

Well, it’s time to expose the truth, so here’s the skinny on fat. Fats are a vital part of a healthy nutrition plan! They help us absorb important vitamins and nutrients and are essential to our nervous systems. The monounsaturated fats in olives, olive oil, and avocados actually help us to prevent belly fat and protect our arteries from the buildup of plaque. The polyunsaturated fats found in fish and seeds help boost our immune systems along with brain function. The Omega-3 fatty acids in grass-fed meat help to normalize thyroid functions and increase our metabolic rates and muscle mass. Fat also plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation. See? Fat has been getting a bad rap.

Some of the benefits of fat include:

  • Helps our bodies absorb nutrients
  • Prevents belly fat and increases muscles mass
  • Protects arteries
  • Boosts immune system
  • Reduces cognitive decline
  • Normalizes thyroid functions
  • Increases metabolism
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Prevents cancer and other diseases

An added bonus? Healthy fats keep our appetites satisfied longer so we don’t overindulge. Have you ever noticed how at a restaurant you can keep reaching for another slice of bread, but when you have a small cut of steak you feel full? That’s because healthy fats keep us feeling satisfied faster and for far longer than refined carbohydrates and other junk. They’re a necessary part of a healthy diet.

What happens if you don’t get your fat fix?

When we don’t get enough fat, our body responds with some pretty ugly side effects. Fatigue, heart problems, vitamin deficiencies, mood imbalances, itchy skin, and poor body temperature regulation are just a few of the risks that come with not getting enough fat. Another side effect? Weight gain. WHAAAAT?!?! When our bodies don’t get enough healthy fat, it often leads to excessive appetite. Yup, not eating enough fat can actually make you fat. Oh, the irony!

Fats are our friends! Without them our body functions can get thrown out of whack. However, that doesn’t mean that the fat in those deep-fried mozzarella sticks, packet of Ding-Dongs, or other processed foods is doing us any favors. The fats I’m talking about are the ones found in real, whole foods. It’s also important to keep in mind that those foods you see at the grocery store labeled “fat-free” are loaded with sugar, calories, and gross additives.

So what kinds of fatty foods should we be eating? Here a list that will get you started.

Healthy_Fats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom line is eating fat does NOT make you fat. You need fat.  We should aim to have 3 servings of fat every day at about 1 tablespoon each for optimum health. Start taking healthy fats for what they really are: delicious, nutritious and oh, so satisfying!

Here’s a great article for you to read too:  Top 7 Most Common Reactions to Your High-Fat Diet (and How to Respond) by Mark Sisson

I’d love to hear from you!

 What’s your favorite fat and what’s your favorite way to eat it?  Share in the comments below.

And what’s another Big Fat Lie you would like exposed? Let me know—I’m on it!

Much Love,

Melodee_Sig_sm

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