Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 01/25/15

Friendship for a Healthy Heart– Just another reason dedicating time to friends and being social is so important. “Plenty of other studies have linked a lack of social interaction to heart problems. The Swedish Survey of Living Conditions, which surveyed more than 17,000 people, found that those with the fewest social contacts were at a 50 percent higher risk for dying of cardiovascular disease. And once someone has a heart problem, friends improve her chances of survival.”

Writing Your Way to Happiness– Part of the reason I started writing this blog was the need for an outlet. I found writing out my thoughts was very therapeutic and helped me focus what I was thinking about. I like how this research shows one can ultimately change their thoughts or behavior by writing. I feel like this may be a good challenge for myself for the new year, seeing if I can alter some thoughts by writing about them objectively. “The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.”

 Your Diet and Exercise Plan is Not Working: Here’s Why– This is a quick read and it is more about how in order to really succeed at any diet or exercise plan you need to be mentally checked in as well. This is a goal for myself personally as I move into the New Year. How do I talk to myself better in order to make sure I am feeling everything I work so hard for. “A clear mind and a strong heart will do much more for your health and life than any perfect diet or workout”.

Your’e Thinking About Fitness All Wrong I just really like what the author here has to say. “So what should be the purpose of exercise? According to Young, exercise is striving toward wholeness and a fuller life. Fitness is a quest for character, virtue, beauty and pleasure. The point of intelligent exercise is full embodiment of that, a commitment to working out the body and the mind together.”

Partners In Health– “Obnoxious couple’s classes and duo-based workouts be damned, new research shows that twosomes who work out together are more likely to achieve their fitness goals than those who try to get healthy alone.”

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–  Photo From Huff Post

 

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Oat Bran Breakfast Porridge Recipe

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Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I love all types of breakfast food, oatmeal, greek yogurt, eggs and toast, you name it. I have also found when there is a breakfast I like I will become obsessed and will eat it everyday without fail. I had years of oatmeal with cinnamon and a cut up apple, to me it tasted like a warm apple pie. Then I moved onto overnight oats, a mix of greek yogurt and oats, mixed with grapes. It is creamy, sweet, and easy to enjoy leisurely. This has now been my staple for the last couple of years. Although now it has come to be that time where I might have to switch it up. And to what one might ask? Well I think I may have just found my new breakfast love, an oat bran porridge.

I found this recipe like I do so many, looking through my beloved Pintrest. I had some extra oat bran around the house from a quick bread I had made. Staring at the bag I pondered to myself, could this be more? As I typed in oat bran into the key words search engine I became pleasantly surprised to learn yes it could be. Not only could it be more then just an ingredient someone bakes with, but it could be a whole meal on its own. I took the recipe and immediately made the porridge. However I knew it was going to need just a little something else.

A few months ago Dustin started to dress up his oatmeal. He started to add eggs, blueberries, chia seeds, and and almond butter making it a huge power breakfast. At first glance it seemed quite gross to me.  I mean it looked like such an odd combination. Although upon trying his concoction I became quite obsessed. When making the porridge for the first time I decided I would make it Dustin’s way, adding eggs and blueberries. I have to say it ended up being really delicious and filling! That is one thing I love about simple oats or porridge’s like this, there are plenty of easy mix ins one can add. Almond Butter, Banana, apples, brown sugar  to make it sweet, but one can also add in eggs, kale, squash, nuts, to make it savory.  The options are endless! Below is the quick and easy recipe, it takes only about 5 minutes to prepare.

 

Makes 1 serving (although I made a larger batch so I could have it for a few days)
Ingredients

1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk of choice (I did almond milk)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Sweetener of choice (stevia, brown sugar, etc. to taste)

Place oat bran, water, milk and cinnamon into a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring frequently for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to bubble. You want the mixture to thicken and it is better to under-cook rather than over-cook it.  Once you remove it from the hear allow a couple of minutes for it to thicken a little more and then add in your sweetener and fixings. Mine was 1 egg and 1/4 cup egg whites scrambled together with a 1/4 cup of blueberries.

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 01/18/15

Salvaging Atkins-Yes it is back, the new and approved atkins diet. What is the difference compared to how Atkins used to be in the prime time of 1980? Well now there are more carbohydrates allowed then before. Back in the hay day it was 20 grams to start. Now the diet allows for 40 grams and can gradually increase. “Focusing on calories probably has failed the American population, but so has the fat-carbohydrate duality. The low-carb movement, like the low-fat movement before it, drew people into a macronutrient-centered approach that lumped all carbs together and all fats together, pitting them against each other in an oversimplified tug of war. The Atkins amendment this week is a partial step away from diet extremism, from the proprietors of what was once one of the most influential extreme diets.”

The Art of Off Season Training– This article is written by Yael Averbuch a professional women’s soccer player who talks about what it means to be in off season and how one optimizes time when not in the peak of competition. I like her principles, although you can tell she is a fierce competitor. I think the goals she lays out could be interpreted in a lot of aspects in life outside of just fitness as well.

Yoga For Heart Health– ” In 1404 studies on yoga – 37 were direct comparisons of yoga to either no exercise, or traditional aerobic exercise. The results of yoga versus no exercise were clear. Compared to non-exercisers, those who practiced yoga sustained significant improvement in cardiac risk factors. On average, yogis lost 2.35 kg of body weight, lowered their blood pressure by 5 mm/hg, and improved their cholesterol profiles by reducing LDL and increasing HDL.”

Women’s Self-Esteem and What Men Want– A sad, but very real finding on how women have better perception of their bodies when they feel men are more attracted to slightly bigger women. What I found interesting is the rule did not apply to other women. “A recent study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that telling women men were attracted to non-stick-thin models increased their body satisfaction.”

F.D.A Approves Surgical Implant to Treat Obesity– I find it sad we are becoming a nation which needs to have implants in order to help people from preventing to eat in order to lose weight. “The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a surgically implanted device to treat obesity in some adults. Called the Maestro system, the implant is the first to generate an intermittent electrical pulse that blocks nerve signals from the brain to the stomach, reducing hunger pangs.”

 

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Photo from Huff Post

 

The Foodist, the Best Diet Book I have Read

The Foodist

Lately I have had a few people ask me if there were books I used during my weight loss that I would recommend out to others. Unfortunately I did not read anything specifically in my weight loss mode besides a lot of health magazines and internet articles, however I have read a lot of books since then on food, fitness, and overall healthy living. Some of the books I have read have been very science based, while others are more opinion focused. My favorite books are the ones which are real, where I can relate to the topics covered, the advice given, and feel like anyone can do it. In order to make something a habit it needs to be something you are able to sustain. Who wants to live life without the indulgences of good food? With this in mind my favorite book by far on this topic is the “Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting” by Darya Pino Rose.

I first learned about this book at a local bookstore in Noe Valley called Omnivore Books who deals solely in books on food. Brilliant right? The books cover everything, cooking it, growing it, eating it, you name it. It was about a year ago I had found the little store and decided I needed to plan a whole day around going to it, have I mentioned my love of bookstores yet? This meant one Sunday morning after convincing Dustin to join me we got up and started the 2 mile leisurely walk there grabbing coffee and breakfast along the way.

Bookstores have always been a place of peace for me. I can spend hours in them. I take everything in around me. I walk from table to table looking at the curated assortment from someone else’s perspective. I take my fingers caressing the cover’s and picking up ever so gently the ones that peak my interest. I skim through the pages, pausing when I get to pictures. Looking, taking it all in. I found the foodist perched up towards the front window. As I started to read the summary my interest was immediately spiked even though I was no longer trying to lose weight. However the selling point for me from browsing to actually buying was seeing a little sign by the book talking to how in just a couple of weeks the author was going to be in the store doing a book reading and signing. I am a sucker for lectures, so in that moment the decision was made. I would purchase the book, read it, and attend the event.

First I am going to talk about the book, which we already know I loved. The author Darya had an ease to her writing that made it very educational without being preachy. It was refreshing to read a book that embraced food and health in a sustainable, which had been my focus at the time. Darya talks to how there is so much more to being healthy then constant exercise and watching everything that goes in your mouth. You don’t have to count every calorie or kill yourself at the gym to be able to lose weight and maintain it. Personally it made me feel confident that once the habits you make are established then your healthy lifestyle is easy to maintain, something I still struggle to fully trust. After reading her book my immediate reaction was feeling energized towards healthy living. I felt like I had just been talking to a friend who had given me some great advice.

In person Darya was very easy going. She talked to her book with a confidence and poise which made me want to befriend her.  I wanted to be engulfed with her knowledge. She seemed sweet, sincere, and grounded.  Nothing is better then hearing directly from someone on what inspired their work. It gives you context you would never get out of the book alone. Lastly I think what made me love this book even more was Darya lived in San Francisco, actually it turned out only a few blocks from where I lived. So the way she lived her life, the grocery stores she went to, the farmers markets, the gyms, those were the places I went to as well. If she could sustain this life only a few streets down from me, then I had no obstacles either.

To sum it all up, for anyone starting their healthy living journey, in the middle of it, or just needing to be inspired again I would recommend this book.  Trust me, you wont be disappointed.

 

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 01/11/15

How will you be working out this year? Top fitness trends for 2015–  I had a similar article like this last week, but if you are like me I am all about trends. “Experts predict that the most popular form for exercise for 2015 will be high intensity interval training. This form of exercise uses short bursts of intense exercise, followed by short periods of rest. Usually, this type of training is done as part of a class with a leader. The benefit is that you can get a good workout in as little as 20 minutes.”

Muscle Strength Is in the Mind– “In a small study recently published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers found that much of muscle strength is based on brain activity, rather than on the mass of the muscles themselves. There’s a fair amount of evidence that you’ll activate the same parts of the brain doing imagery as you do if you’re actually doing the task itself,” The basic thought is that the imagery is allowing the brain to maintain those connections.”

The 7 Secrets of Travel Workouts– After just wrapping up my busy season at work I for one am getting ready to start my work travel again. Through in a couple of planned vacations this Spring as well and it looks like I am going to be spending at least a week or two away a month. What this means is breaking up my usual workout routines and having to improvise. This is a lengthy article, but the author gives some really good and specific tips. If you want some quick go to’s then scroll down to the bottom of his article and he has some quick tips.

Junk Food In The New Year– This article is really short, but it is interesting to me that with everyone’s new year resolutions un-healthy food consumption continues to increase after the holiday’s.

Unearthed: How to get people to cook more? Get Easters to complain less– I really enjoyed this article. It talks about the obstacles people face when cooking at home vs eating out or cooking more processed foods. Probably since I do not have children myself, I had never thought about how challenging it would to have someone at your table complaining about what you cook. “Prepared and processed foods are made by people whose job it is to formulate delicious dishes. In some cases, they devote vast resources to irresistibility. They don’t care whether you eat your vegetables or whether you’re getting fat. Their job is to make you like what they cook.  So the hard, cold fact of it is, as Lumeng says, “the food you cook at home is often not as tasty.” No one says “how delicious” because it is not delicious.”

 

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Photo From Huff Post

 

Creamy Pumpkin Chili Recipe

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Over the holidays I went back home to Colorado to see my family and friends. One of the perks of being away from work and your real life is having the time to enjoy leisurely activities, like reading books and magazines.  I had brought a whole stack of my favorite and very much neglected magazines with me to enjoy flipping through while drinking my morning coffee.  In one of my beloved subscriptions I came across a recipe for a pumpkin bean chili. I looked out the window to see the snow falling down with bursts of wind in the 20 degree weather and I knew this meal was exactly what I needed to hit the spot for the day. Plus I am also just an addict for anything that has pumpkin in it.

Let’s also take a moment to talk about how much I love soups and chili’s because they are so quick and easy to fix, along with being healthy and filling. Not to mention you really can’t mess them up. For anyone who is new to cooking, I highly recommend just making a batch. Trust me, you really can’t go wrong. I decided I wanted to change the recipe a little bit to make it creamier and a little heartier, which involved adding lite coconut milk and some ground beef. I just made this dish again on Sunday and was able to tweak it a little bit more. I now feel like this recipe is a keeper. I will preface the photo’s above do not do this dish justice.

Ingredients 

1 Can of Pumpkin

2 Can’s of Diced Tomatoes

1 Can of Lite Coconut Milk

1 Whole Diced Onion

1 Can of Hominy

1 Can of Kidney Beans

1 lbs of Ground Beef

1 Tbs Cinnamon

1 Tsp of Salt

1 Tsp of Garlic Salt

1 Tsp of Brown Sugar

Serves 6-8

Steps

First take a large Dutch Oven, I used my 6-Quart, and saute the diced onion with a little olive oil for about 5 minutes till the onion is translucent. Next add in the Ground Beef and saute until it is almost fully cooked through.

Next add in all of the remaining ingredients.  Next cover on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes. You can also add a little avocado or greek yogurt on top if you want to make it a little creamier. However with the coconut milk it tastes pretty good without all of the fixings. Once hot spoon out and enjoy!

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 01/04/15

5 Fitness Trends to Try in 2015- In several articles I have read it looks like High Intensity Training, or HIT is going to be the big trend this next year. I mean who wouldn’t want to burn the same amount of calories in less time? Also top of the list are Body Weight Training, Treadmill Training, Recovery Efforts, and Digital Engagement, aka Apps and other fitness technology.

Mile Posts: 10 Tips For Making 2015 Your Fittest Year Yet– I found all of these tips really useful and good. Especially the Self Pep Talk, we can all do a little more of that.

Why Not Just Breathalyze Yourself?– This article essentially covers personal breathalyzers and if more people were to use them then we could potentially see a decrease in drinking and driving. I like how the author compares it to a speedometer. You would never drive your car without knowing how fast you were going, so know what your BAC is should be similar. With cost’s starting at $30 and the size of a key chain, it seems like an easy low barrier of entry. The question is how do you make it more popular for people?

My Relationship With Food: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do- But So Worth It– This is more of a personal story then it is health tips. However I feel with the New Year and people making resolutions, it is nice to read from someone else’s perspective. I also love the questions she has at the very end to ask yourself. Sometimes I feel we do not stop enough to ask ourselves how the food we eat makes us feel. So why not start now?

The Super-Short Workout and Other Fitness Trends–  Let’s just face it. Exercise is good for us.It is important everyone moves their body, however it does not need to be an hour in the gym every day. Even as little as 1 minute of vigorous activity can make a difference. Anything is better then nothing. “In various experiments, physical activity was found to lessen and even reverse the effects of aging on human skin; protect against age-related vision loss;improve creativity; lower people’s risk of developing heart diseaseeven if they had multiple risk factors for the condition; increase the numbers of good bacteria in athletes’ guts; raise exercisers’ pain tolerance; and alter, in desirable ways, how our DNA works.”

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Photo from Huff Post

 

New Year, New Resolution

Image-1It was 4 years ago today I made a change which would end up impacting my life in more ways then I could ever have imagined. It was not a decision I made overnight. I had tried to lose weight here and there, but it took years for me to finally feel ready and committed to make a permanent change. I was 27 at the time and had lived my entire life being unhappy in my own body. A sad, but honest statement.  Once I commit to something I am always fully dedicated, but I am also a believer you need to setup goals that are achievable. I mean no one would expect you to run a marathon after only one week of training, so I looked at weight loss the same way. My New Year’s resolution was to lose just 20 lbs.

I can remember this New Year’s Day so vividly, even though it was 4 years ago. I guess that is how it goes though. When something really memorable happens, you remember the day better. I woke up feeling motivated and ready. I could do this! First thing was first, I had to find out how much I weighed so I knew the weight I needed to achieve. This was probably one of the scariest experiences I can remember with myself. Facing reality and letting go of denial.  I was home for the holidays visiting my parents for Christmas and went up to their bathroom to step onto the scale. I stepped my right foot, then my left. I waited in anticipation as the number calculated. Then it appeared, 185lbs. I could not believe what I saw. However instead of letting this spin me into a dark depressed place, I used it as fuel for my fire. I could get to 165 lbs. I WOULD get to 165lbs.

I don’t remember exactly on how I found My Fitness Pal, but I did. I entered my weight, and my goal. It told me I needed to eat 1,200 calories a day to lose 2 lbs a week. Ok, I could do that. I went to lunch with my best friend Kristen that day. I had to look up the menu of the restaurant before I left to start looking up calories in order to know what I could eat. Wow, a lot of what I typically ate was REALLY high in calories. I had no idea. This was going to be a change for sure I remember thinking. I finally decided on soup as a good lower calorie option. I ended up ordering the French Onion soup with a side of fruit instead of my usual bread.

Kristen and I had been friends since growing up and she was already very avid about health and fitness. It was easy to talk to her about my new plan. She was very supportive and said she would encourage me every step of the way. Throughout the last 4 years Kristen has been my strength, my crutch, and my confidant to get me through the tough days. I suggest anyone starting a big change find someone who can be your support. It is not easy making big changes and you need someone who you can talk to that understands what you are going through. Kristen has almost been like a sponsor at times. When I feel like I can just not live another healthy day or when I want to give up I reach out to her. She knows how to calm the storm per say.

That night my parents and I had dinner together before I left to come home to San Francisco. I ordered half a french dip sandwich with a side salad. I felt satisfied and still a little hungry. A feeling I would learn to soon become very familiar with over the next few months. I remember how supportive my parents were about my new goal. I mean they had been the ones to encourage me and give me the honest truth when no one else would. I have to say I could never have done it without their push, love, and support. Once I had bordered the plane I looked out the window and could feel a change in me.  This time would be different.

So why am I telling this story today. Well I want to remind other’s that New Year’s Resolutions do not always have to be goals that we make and never fulfill. I am proof that you can make a goal, stick to it, and actually make a change. There is nothing wrong with starting with a small goal and working your way up. When I decided to lose 20 lbs I had no idea I would actually end up losing 70 lbs. If I had started with a goal to lose 70 lbs it might have been to daunting and I could have easily gotten discouraged and given up. Setting a smaller goal and meeting it drove me to keep going. After I met one goal I would set a new one. Once I met that one I would be so encouraged I would set another one. Next thing I knew I had lost 70 lbs. I do the same thing now. For example I will set a goal at the gym to just run 5 miles. Next thing I know I have ran 8 or 10. However if I told myself I was going to run 10 miles that morning I might have talked myself out of going.

Changing yourself is hard. When you make a big change you have to know you can never go back to where you were. I can never eat or be lazy like I did before I lost the weight. However now knowing what I know, there is no way I would want to go back there. Health and Fitness is about so much more then how you look. If that is all it was then it would be hard for most people to keep at it. Being healthy is about feeling good, having energy to do the things you love, and making the times you indulge that much better.  Deciding to make a change is the first step. Once that is done you just have to just trust what you will getting from the change will end up being so much better then what you are giving up. Trust me on that 🙂