REAL Food & Fitness Blog

  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: January 7, 2016
  • Writen by:
Dietary-Guidelines-2015

 

 

 

 

 

Today is a big day in the nutrition world. Yes, finally the new USDA Dietary Guidelines have been released. Why the delay? It’s what Marion Nestle, nutrition and food studies professor and author out of New York University, calls “food politics.” One of her books, by the selfsame name, was released ten years ago and was part of my study materials in college.

Nestle and many others have had much to say as we have waited and waited, and waited, for release of the guidelines. They were scheduled to be released in 2015, but due to a choice to not involve sustainability issues in the guidelines and Congress popping in and out of the picture, threatening the outcome and some of the context for which scientific committees were channeling their energies, the guidelines were pushed to the now.

Here they are: (http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/). Can’t you just smell the taxpayer dollars at work, representing thousands of hours of experts reviewing, discussing, investigating, and translating the science into a language that is simple and practical?

Previous editions of the Dietary Guidelines provided suggestions for food groups and nutrients, while they were criticized for lack of practicality, because people eat foods in combination, rather than in isolation. Today’s guidelines emphasize patterns, which we are learning truly do make the difference, rather than snapshots and pointing to food groups.

http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/bulletins/12eb522

Here is my simple overview:

  •   –  Limit or completely nix caffeine, alcohol, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened foods and drinks (good, better, and best indeed). Start where you are and move forward, ongoing.
  •   –  Focus on patterns. This is key! Moderation isn’t a Big Mac on Monday, a banana split on Tuesday, and various other novelty indulgences on other days of the week. Moderation is truly avoiding extremes and making the act of indulgence less the norm. The new guidelines emphasize making patterns in healthy eating real across your lifespan.
  •   –  Focus on a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Exotic fruits and plants don’t need to be your primo choices. Mix up your options and maximize your nutrition.
  •   –  Be certain to limit processed, packaged foods with added sugars, saturated fats, and high sodium.
  •   –  Aim for better choices today, here and now, not just making choices based on calories, but rather based on real, whole, and less processed options.
  •   –  Set an example and look at your environment, asking how you can better support healthy eating patterns for others in your circle of influence.
  •   –  Consider your food preferences, traditions, culture, and budget. How do vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats and other protein foods, and oils fit into that picture?
  •   –  Finally, watch your portion sizes, read labels, pay special attention to ingredients, and make better overall choices today, tomorrow, and ongoing.

http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

– How will you use these guidelines to make better choices?

 

– How can you best bridge the gap between knowing and doing?

 

– What is your take-away?

 

All the best!

Jessica

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: January 5, 2016
  • Writen by:
MIrror

 

 

 

 

 

I woke up early, early this morning to hit up the gym in our hotel. From our tenth floor abode, up, up, up, I took the stairs to my destination on the eighteenth floor where the spacious gym at the top of this Washington, D.C. high-rise awaited me. Beautiful. There it was, first thing in the morning, and it was almost all mine, all mine. This was going to be a great start to the day.

Good news! It wasn’t busy. There was one other early bird there when I arrived, clearly a dedicated gym-goer. Right away I observed some things about my workout neighbor. His was a dominant gym personality, racing to the drinking fountain, here and there and everywhere. He grabbed plates and weights from machines all around and it didn’t take long to observe that he clearly owned the place.

My thoughts, “Good for him. He’s in the zone.” But then, that awkward feeling that I was somehow imposing on his groove . . .

I mused over the strangeness of gym space and the certain unspoken rules about personal space in exercise facilities. And the mirror, it was definitely his too. I almost felt like asking, “Can we share the mirror,” but I failed to ask for fear that he might just have grunted and I wouldn’t know how to interpret. It’s easy to tell when people are not in the mood for conversation. No eye contact, just hurry-scurry here and there.

I went . . . over there . . . away to the other side of . . . well, where I wouldn’t get run over.

Truth be told, and I think this is a common theme, even after having lifted weights since high school, I still get a weird vibe from guys when I hit up the weight floor, this area generally being dominated by men. But then, wait, women are often guilty of the no eye contact, this is my mirror, my space, my zone guise as well. Good for you if you have confidence on the gym floor. Can’t we be friends, or something non-threatening?

It’s funny right? Undoubtedly, awkward is a mental thing. Most folks are friendly and willing to share, but there’s still something about space and mirrors.

  • How do you feel on the free weight floor?
  • How do you like sharing the mirror?
  • Is it threatening to be near another person lifting heavier weights or doing something apparently novel or new to you?

I will continue to respect gym-goers of all personalities, come as they may. One thing is for certain on that note, however. A piece of the mirror is mine and I’m going to soak up the motivation that comes from challenging myself to go lower in push-ups, core sets, and squats, with proper form. I’m going to continue to take pride in seeing how hard I am working, sweaty and strong in my body. I love looking in the mirror and feeling good about what I see, and I’m okay to share that shiny piece of reflective surface. On the other hand, I know when to stay out of the way.

All the best!

Jessica

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: March 24, 2015
  • Writen by:
BC header.jpg

Today I am going to share my top 25 reasons for why I love boot camp so, so much!

  1. Fun!
  2. Friends
  3. Enhancing self-esteem and confidence
  4. Improvements in strength and muscle definition
  5. It feels good to push hard and overcome challenges
  6. Accomplishing goals
  7. Feeling happy (mood booster!)
  8. Improved posture
  9. Keeps the mind sharp
  10. Conquering push-ups, planks, and burpees!
  11. Healthy heart
  12. Feeling great, not winded, going up stairs
  13. Having more energy to play with kids
  14. Strengthens the spirit
  15. Increased enthusiasm for other sports and forms of physical activity
  16. Helps us to feel younger
  17. Team support
  18. Open and thoughtful nutrition discussions
  19. Sleeping better at night
  20. Strong bones
  21. Energy begets energy
  22. Reduced risk of cancer
  23. Feeling comfortable in your clothes
  24. Reduced anxiety
  25. An amazing network of support and empowerment!!!

There you have it.  I could go on and on . . .

Find out what you will LOVE about boot camp. Join us for awesome good times and an amazing sense of pride in what you can and will accomplish.

All the best,

Jessica

 

Register at http://realfoodfitness.com/boot-camp-registration/

 

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: August 5, 2014
  • Writen by:
Girl Dinner

Happy Kids Eat Right Month!  Yep, as of 2014, every August is now dedicated to the campaign of improving the nutrition and health of children.  Of course it’s a year-round, day-to-day part of living for moms, dads, grandparents, and caretakers everywhere, many of whom are hoping to gain some ground in maneuvering good eating habits in these pint-sized masterminds. Thus, this month is a great reminder of what we can do to help encourage smart and healthy eating for all of us in a variety of circumstances that come our way.

So . . . I’ve got a question.  What can WE do to really make a difference in raising kids who eat smart because, well . . . because they actually want to?  Especially considering that we live in such a complicated food world where it can seem as though just about everyone wants to “make friends” with our kids and keep the peace by handing out pseudo foods here, there, and everywhere.

Okay, but back up.  Who is the best teacher for our little masterminds?  That’s right . . . we are!  WE need to eat well if we expect the same from our kids.  And, do we really need to make a big deal out of it, as though it’s an act of martyrdom to eat a salad, consume carrots, or munch on other veggies?  I think not.  It goes without saying that eating healthy foods because we enjoy them and appreciate the way they help us to feel, is enough.

Also, exposing our children to a variety of foods and helping them to feel comfortable in various eating settings is clutch.  Kids are curious and it’s great for them to try new foods, again, without parents expressing personal feelings and grievances about foods. Ideally we should let children decide for themselves how they like foods, while not assigning strong associations until they’ve been willing to try these foods a few times. These days I’ve been doing my best to avoid the “eat your vegetables so you will grow big and strong” line and rather try to incorporate simple lessons in nutrition that aren’t so poignant, or that may categorize healthy foods as good and others as blacklisted, which can in-turn be counterproductive when kids are away from home, making their own choices about food.

When I was studying nutrition at Utah State University, a friend and I were in charge of a fun themed lunch and nutrition celebration at a local elementary school.  We chose a Mardi Gras theme and served simple, fun foods for the students, teacher and principle for the occasion.  Although I don’t recall exactly what we served that day, I do know that we stuck with simple and healthy foods in a fun presentation style.  I will never forget one student’s mother rushing in with food for her daughter, just as it was time to serve the students lunch.  She explained that what we were serving should not be given to her daughter who was very picky.  Was this mother helping or hindering her daughter?

 A friend of mine is an exceptional cook.  She, however, married a fella who subsisted mainly on Mac and Cheese, Ramen, and other convenience foods growing up and found her foodie-ways to be too extreme for his palate and, amazingly enough . . . he didn’t appreciate her wonderful workings with fresh foods and snazzy recipes!  It was sad for her that he could care less about her gourmet menus and her excitement in trying new recipes.  His palate was very narrow as a result of his upbringing.

Bottom line:  We should expose our kids to a variety of new foods, while not making too big a deal about refusal of certain items.  Food and meals should never be about control and power.  They should be fun, while it’s not a perfect world and working to get there is the goal, right?  Resist the urge to point out what is healthy and what is not.  Rather it’s great to allow children to eat, again, because it’s an enjoyable experience.  Truthfully, no meal or single food will make or break health for our kids.  It’s overall habits and relationships with food that matter over time.  Consider what your kids are getting over a two-week span.  Keep exposing them to new, fresh, and REAL options.

How did the way you were raised affect your sense of food adventure and willingness to try new good-for-you foods?

All the best!

Jessica

 

KidsEatRight (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: July 31, 2014
  • Writen by:
Jess and Baby

Baby fat?  Mine, that is.  Let me explain.  First, if you happen to wonder where in the world I’ve been, my simple answer is: here.  I’m still here.  It’s been an incredible summer, jam-packed with swimming, playing, yard work, family time, Legos (thanks to an almost obsessive fetish my 6- and 4-year old daughters have fostered), work, and then THE BIG BOOM, having a new baby!  Hence, the last few weeks have been about being a mom, being present, and, ultimately surviving.  I’ve been especially loving precious moments with a sweet, new little man in our house, and our other kiddos, who are each the greatest blessing.

And so, after 9-1/2 months of pregnancy, yes I count an extra ½ month because my babies come late, and if you do the math, that’s how long, long pregnancies are, I am ON!  I’m ready to shed the blasted baby fat that I wish was delivered along with the baby, and am now happy to share my ground rules for how I’m going about it, while still being immersed in caring for a family and spending plenty of time snuggling and loving my sweet little newborn and his sibs:

•  Exercise comes first:  First thing in the morning that is.  My husband leaves for work early and so I have to be on my game to get my sweat on without the kids in tow.  Of course it’s a gradual process of adding the intensity back in, as my OB encouraged me to “listen to my body,” adding in more intense activity, progressively.  While there’s no need to dive into the deep end just yet, I know that waking up and being active from the get-go is important for setting the stage for the rest of the day.  Just as “an object in motion stays in motion,” if I start out active and embrace the day feeling empowered and active, I know I am more optimistic and active throughout the rest of the day.

•  Staying REAL with Nutrition: There’s still no excuse for eating crap, especially not now.  I am loving summer’s bounty, from apricots and cherries, to kale, corn, watermelon, and so many varieties of vegetables!  They are the foundation of my diet, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Simple and delicious!

•  Eating Only When Sitting:  This is one I’ve decided to really crack down on.  Even though I feel like I’m constantly feeding little people and it’s easier to eat while standing and waiting on them, I’m committed to doing better to avoid snacking and picking at BLTs (bites, licks, and tastes) that are mindless and really add up.  Anyway, food is more enjoyable when we’re mindful and can sit and enjoy it without too many distractions.  Awareness is key here and those little bites really add up!

•  Moving More Throughout the Day: Taking advantage of opportunities to move, both indoors and outdoors is the gist here.  For example, instead of sitting and waiting, walking, with my baby snuggled up in his front carrier, while we wait for my daughter at soccer practice and parking further away at the grocery store are great opportunities for a metabolic boost.  Mowing the lawn, weeding and working in the garden, and avoiding being a slug on the couch, are also great ways to move and enjoy it (I love working outdoors).  Taking advantage of a few minutes here or there to stretch, walk, and even fit in resistance training while at work can also help immensely.  Speaking of taking advantage of movement opportunities, my heart rate is just about to escalate as I up to chase after a pesky fly!

• Recognizing Triggers and Stopping Self-Sabotage Every Time it Rears it’s Ugly Head:  I am keeping a habit journal to help pinpoint and recognize triggers for poor habits threatening the obtainment of my goal.  For some people, triggers may be fatigue or boredom mid-afternoon and the habit of reaching for a soda or something sweet for a dopamine release.  Recognizing poor habits and self-sabotaging patterns, feelings, and emotions is crucial.  We often struggle with just erasing poor habits and do better to exchange them for better habits.  Rather than reaching for unhelpful snacks, my answer is to rearrange cupboards and foods in the fridge, placing smarter nutrition options at eye-level where they are easy to remember and reach for, rather than old standbys that are no help to the cause.  Sliced up peppers, carrots, and celery, and washed up, easy to grab fruits are my #1 go-to helper here, and they are right where I need them to be to remind me of my goals.

•  Water: You and I both know this one!  It’s something that needs to be said, however.  From first thing in the morning and all day long, drinking water is an important part of health and obtaining a healthy weight.  Immersions with lemons, cucumbers, and berries are refreshing as well.  I’ve got my trusty water bottle right here and it’s a constant companion.

 •  Staying Optimistic:  I know I can and will do this.  My mental game is in full swing.  With ten pounds to annihilate, I’m on it.  Thus, my commitment is to be confident and accountable in my ability to start each day off active, stay REAL with my food choices, avoid mindless snacking or “BLTs,” spend more time moving and little time being inactive, dodge self-sabotage, and stay well-hydrated is absolute.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Do you have body fat to shed?  If so, join me!  Whether it’s sympathy weight or just a nuisance you’re ready to leave behind, let’s do this!

Share your healthy and smart tips and tricks for losing unwanted body fat without obsessive tricks, gimmicks, or unnecessary props.  Let’s keep it simple and lighten up together!

All the best!

Jessica

 

I can do this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: May 13, 2014
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The-Daniel-Plan-Diet-Book

There are always new diets and dietary trends on the fringe, and one of my favorite things to do is to review and dig a bit deeper into how real some of their underlying claims are.  My boot camp crew and I have a great time discussing these dietary trends after our workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and so in today’s blog and in a few to follow, I want to share some take-away points from diets of today that are all the rage.  If there are others you are curious about, comment below and let’s get the discussion going.

As a note, I don’t diet bash, but rather look for the components of each dietary plan that are practical and can support long-term, optimal health, well-being, and performance goals.  For example, while I think there are some great components to Paleo eating plans, I don’t recommend this nutrition regimen to endurance athletes.  Likewise, I don’t prescribe vegetarian or vegan eating plans for everyone because even though they can be great, for many people going vegetarian equates to a lot of processed foods, rather than more emphasis on vegetables.

Don’t be afraid to call out dietary bluffs and outlandish “food rules” for what they are.  Simply put, many diet plans “stretch it” with promises and are anecdotal in their promised cures.  All too often they aren’t based on conclusive research but rather correlations and testimonials.

With that being said . . .

The Daniel Diet Plan by pastor Rick Warren:

At present, many Christians communities are embracing this diet as “God’s diet,” and with Daniel from the Old Testament as a mentor, they are embracing better nutrition habits with hopes to increase their faith by eliminating processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and in some cases dairy and gluten.  Daniel was an Israelite in Babylonian captivity who, rather than eat the king’s food, ate a diet of plant foods so as not to “defile himself with rich food.”  Religious communities suggest that this is a way of taking the focus off one’s physical appetite and, rather, focusing on The Lord.

I am definitely an advocate for focusing on non-starchy vegetables and lots of them.  I love the lifestyle emphasis of this plan, and for those who are spiritually minded, it’s great that this plan encourages motivation from a higher power.  Do you need to go gluten and dairy free?  Not necessarily.  You can, however, do so while still maintaining a well-balanced nutrition plan that supports health and weight management goals.

What do you think?

Are you willing to eliminate all processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol from your diet?  

Can you do so for more than 40 days with more of a long-term perspective?

All the best!

Jessica

 

Daniel Diet Photo

 

 

 

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: April 28, 2014
  • Writen by:
Icecreamreward

Is food one of your life’s simple pleasures?  Sure.  I hope so.  Food can be fun, social, empowering, energizing, . . .  or, completely counterproductive.  I love food but also can see that it is often abused for emotional needs or out of boredom.  Consider how stress, fatigue, loneliness, or other needs affect what foods or drinks you do or don’t choose.  Much of our individual relationships with food are built upon how we were raised and what our security with food was during our early years.  As you consider what your early experiences and habits have been in the past, think about your food security.  Have bad habits from youth come back to haunt you?

Check out the findings from a recent study out of Pennsylvania State University.  Researchers followed the reactions of preschoolers, ages three to five, and incentivized them with food rewards in exchange for “work.”  The kids earned cinnamon graham crackers by simply clicking on a computer mouse.  In fact, after four clicks the children earned a cinnamon graham cracker treat, while eight clicks earned them another treat, followed by more rewards with sixteen and thirty-two clicks.  Interestingly enough, while most of the preschoolers were done after fifteen minutes, some preschoolers continued to click on the mouse up to 2,000 times before the researchers stepped in to end the task.  The researchers called the latter, “reactive eaters.”  Consider what you would have done in a similar scenario at age 3, 4 or 5.

What determines your motivation to earn more food rewards?  Consider your genetics.  Also, did your parents impose many food rules or did they have strict rules established for eating practices at home?  Research shows that, curiously enough, in homes where parents are constantly dieting or among those who forbid desirable foods, their children have stronger reactions to food, wanting more of it when presented with opportunities to splurge.

In another scenario, the same researchers offered preschoolers graham crackers during snack time.  They placed other graham crackers in a bowl with a lid and told the kids that they those crackers were off limits, except for a period of about five minutes.  The restricted snacks were more enticing to all of the preschoolers, particularly among those who had had the strongest response to clicking on the computer mouse for food rewards earlier. These same “reactive eaters” ate more of the restricted crackers than the other children who hadn’t responded as intensely in previous testing.

What is the take-away message from this study for you and your life?  How about this . . . restriction is often counterproductive, as is stringent dieting.  When foods are placed off limits, not just to children, but also to teens and adults, there is an increased interest, focus, and often obsession to those foods.  In other words, if you are obsessive about food choices, you might just find that you think about them constantly and actually end up sabotaging your efforts as a result.  Know yourself and learn to trust your body.

Okay, so then is the answer to simply allow ourselves and our children open access to food at home? 

The best answer is as follows:

  1. Provide high-quality foods at home and limit processed foods, including soda, chips, and treats.
  2. Allow children and family members control and access to reasonable and amounts of food.
  3. Don’t play the food police card.  In other words, resist the urge to comment about what others are eating and avoid being passive aggressive, which is undoubtedly counterproductive, making meals and snacks uncomfortable.
  4. Encourage your family to respond to body cues, eat slowly, and celebrate meals, rather than scarf them down without really enjoying the experience.  Follow similar guidelines for yourself.
  5. Set an example and focus on whole foods and produce.  As has been pointed out, it really is difficult to binge on cucumbers, apples, or other fresh vegetables and fruits.  On the other hand, fruit snacks, fruit leather, juice, and even veggie chips are fine options, while they need to be portioned out and balanced with a healthy diet (obviously there is much more to this).
  6. Enjoy treats in moderation (aim for less than 10% of total calories) and, again, don’t obsess about these “fun foods,” as long as a healthy foundation is in place, particularly among very young children.
  7. Lastly, don’t forget about the emotional and comforting connection that we as human beings often have with food.  If food is becoming the main outlet for the release feelings and stress, other facets definitely need to be looked at.  Make sure you yourself, as well as children, and your family members are making that emotional connection with one another and that you can enjoy meals, avoiding mindless grazing throughout the day and backloading calories at night.

How do you best plan ahead to prevent being a “reactive eater?”

All the best!

Jessica

 

FoodPolice Cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Image: http://politichicks.tv/column/public-school-food-gospel-teach-it-preach-it-and-make-sure-you-dont-eat-it/

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: April 9, 2014
  • Writen by:
Pregnancy

It has been an interesting last few weeks as I’ve been holding down the fort at home, shuttling my kids around, teaching and maintaining work, keeping up my energy with this pregnancy, of course feeding everyone (that’s a big job in and of itself), and supporting my husband with work and Army duties.  I’ve have many thoughts and topics I’ve been wanting to blog about, but am just now taking advantage of this opportunity to post on a topic that I am very passionate about.  It is one that I am asked about a whole lot . . . fitness during pregnancy!

Yes, I’ve got a baby on board (number four!) and as a runner as well as an instructor who teaches fitness classes on most days of the week, I am almost always approached by someone at the completion of each workout who is concerned about the state of my baby.  I smile and explain that we’re all good and that I’m very much in tune with my body and am careful, always doing my best to keep my baby’s best interests in mind.

Here’s why I feel so great about staying very active during this pregnancy (and the last three):

  • •  Fitness during pregnancy keeps me happy and thus is good for my baby in a sense that I stress less and have lower cortisol and stress hormones circulating through my body and his as well.  Research has shown that pregnant women who exercise regularly have improved self-esteem, more energy, and a lesser incidence of depression with those wonderful feel-good endorphins that come with staying active.
  • •  Babies born to active moms may have more smarts.  A recent study out of the University of Montreal showed that newborns with active mothers possessed a greater mental maturity than those with inactive moms.  Further research also suggests improved neuromuscular scores, improved motor and oral language scores among children of mothers more active during pregnancy.
  • •  Fewer complications for both mom and baby are associated with active pregnancies.  That’s right.  Being sedentary is actually more dangerous for both than being active (with a doctors okay and personalized route).  With a healthy aerobic capacity and blood pressure, improved response to carbohydrates, and decreased blood glucose response versus non-active women, who wouldn’t be willing and wanting for great fitness during pregnancy?
  • •  Better sleep!  Staying active throughout pregnancy is associated with better quality sleep, which is another great benefit to moving more.  I don’t have many restless nights during my pregnancies, but I know that is unique to other stressors that come with stages and chapters in life as well.
  • •  Better posture.  I’ve not experienced back pain with any of my pregnancies, which I credit to starting each pregnancy with a strong back, along with continuing with strengthening exercises for my posture throughout pregnancies.  Although anecdotal, I am a strong believer in starting out each pregnancy with a strong core, while maintaining correct posture throughout the day to support a healthy spine, despite the pressures that pregnancy brings to the back.
  • •  Easier recovery following delivery and quicker returns to pre-pregnancy weight.  I’m putting my money on this on this go-around as well.

So then . . . if you are cleared by your doctor you can feel comfortable in continuing your past fitness routine, with an increased focus on maintaining a strong back and optimal posture, maintaining a fit state of aerobic capacity, and avoiding getting to a state of breathless or extremes in any sense.  Be consistent with your fitness routine, staying active most, if not all days of the week.

Exercise can safely be started in women who were not exercising before pregnancy, while programs must be carefully structured and supervised with unique recommendations for exercise type, intensity, duration, and frequency.   This is obviously not the time to reach peak fitness or to train for athletic competitions, and pregnant women should avoid lying flat on their backs for much time at all, which may reduce blood flow to the baby.  The old recommendation of not exceeding a heart rate of 140 beats for minute is old-hat.  Perceived rates of exertion are better indications of appropriate levels and intensities.  You should be able to talk and should avoid light-headedness and, again, extremes.

With emphasis I recommend that if you are active during your pregnancy you see you obstetrician or midwife regularly.  Also, hydrate well and nourish your body, and thus your baby, with healthy, real and unprocessed foods.  Enjoy movement that you can safely perform while still talking, not getting breathless.  Listen to your body and don’t fall for the old tales that would have you believe that being sedentary is better.  Lastly, of course, always keep your baby’s best interests in mind!

 I’d love to hear your fitness during pregnancy stories.

How has staying active during pregnancy benefited both you and your baby?  

All the best!

Jessica

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: March 17, 2014
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natural-cheetos

Natural is good and sounds about as close to ideal as possible when it comes to food. Don’t we assume that if a food is natural it’s coming to us straight from the vine of some glistening orchard somewhere, or that it is unprocessed and unaltered and wonderful?  Sorry to break it to us, but sadly “natural” has historically been without a clear meaning and because this the case, it’s a good thing that we are finally starting to have more regulations on which foods and beverages can and cannot be labeled as natural.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “natural foods” are meant to contain “nothing artificial or synthetic, including all color additives regardless of source.”  In other words, things aren’t supposed to be added to foods that wouldn’t normally be expected to be present in them.  Petroleum-based dyes to change the color?  Nope.  Brominated vegetable oil to stabilize and add to flavor?  Uh, no.  Hydrogenated oils for stability at room temperature?  Nope.

Just last September a Food Labeling Modernization Act was introduced in Congress, although it’s enactment remains to be seen in full force.  The FDA is to establish a standardized nutrition labeling system and guidelines for use of the word “natural.”  Interestingly enough, at least 100 lawsuits have been filed over the last two years in challenge to claims by brands advertising their products as natural, with some of the claims being challenged for being too ambiguous.  As a result, some of the lawsuits have ended with multi-million dollar settlements and the demands for more clarity among consumers are starting to become more audible.  For example, Naked Juice agreed to pay $9 million after a lawsuit for “all natural” claims with products containing the ingredients cyanocobalamin (synthetic vitamer of vitamin B-12), Fibersol®-2 (soluble corn fiber), and pyridoxine hydrochloride (synthetic B-6).  These are common ingredients in supplements and are not bad ingredients; they just aren’t quite natural.  Shouldn’t consumers be made aware?

So, then is natural the only way to go?  I prefer going for “simple.”   In other words, while my diet and the diet of my family members is based on a foundation of real and whole foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, we do our best to choose better and best and go for as natural as possible in life’s situations.  We limit nitrates in our meat choices and don’t go for low-fat everything, due to the mass of unnecessary ingredients so often in these foods.  We don’t obsess.  Eating “naturally” is not a religion, but rather a preference for feeling our best and investing in our health and long-term well-being.  I read labels and aim for foods with simple ingredients, rather than those with a “laundry list” used to make up for reduced calories with compositional changes.  And yes. sometimes in a time-crunch, this morning actually, I send my daughter to school with a smoothie and  Z-Bar, or I pack a Perfectly Simple bar, as well as an apple or smoothie when I’m on the go with meetings or in between teaching classes.  These aren’t perfectly natural options, but they are better than chips and other completely unnatural and unhealthy options.  Go for as healthy and unproccessed as possible to feel your best . . . but don’t obsess.  Think good, better and best.  Progression and awareness are key.

It’s great that consumers are seeking out more nutrition savvy foods, rather than just processed junk.  We want quality and we want to feel well as a result of the food choices we make.  Maybe, just maybe, more of us are reaching for  more natural options, finding satisfaction in the accompanying nourishment they provide, along with whole foods, rather than processed and altered CRAP (calorie-rich and processed).  Many are becoming more educated as consumers and are less likely to fall prey to claims made on product labels and in advertisements, because smart choices are more about health than they are about marketing prerogatives.

Game plan: 

  • •  Choose foods that have been produced safely, fairly, sustainably and humanely.
  • •  Read nutrition labels carefully and pay special attention to ingredients in the foods you eat.
  • •  Eat more of the foods that don’t come with nutrition labels, namely fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • •  Grow an organic garden and make it fun to experiment with new crops and recipes.
  • •  Don’t give processed foods a “health halo” that they don’t deserve.  For example, just because 7UP used to contain vitamin E (until regulators said no more to the far-fetched claims), doesn’t mean that it was a healthy choice that led to reduced oxidation in the body and enhanced health.

 How will you make better and best nutrition choices this week and moving forward?  

All the best!

Jessica

 

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  • Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: March 13, 2014
  • Writen by:
Energy Weight

It’s something I am asked about frequently and all of us seem to want more of it . . . energy!  Is a lack of energy affecting the quality of your life?  If so, you may be prey to the thousands of testimonials, supplements, and hyped up “secrets” aimed at your money in return for a guaranteed pep in your step; however, when it comes to real life and validated approach to supporting more energy for living, what can you do to liven up the way you feel?

Of course, your energy levels are measured subjectively.  And so when somebody asks how you are doing you might say “good,” whether you mean it or not, or “I’m tired,” which are the most common responses I hear. A true assessment of energy levels requires paying close attention to how you feel as you go about your day at work, at home or around the town, whether hitting up the grocery store, organizing and cleaning, interacting with friends and family, or whatever consumes your time. If you find that you are all too often simply “going through the motions,” dreading going out, and you’re struggling to accomplish what you need to, it’s time to assess the most common culprits for why your energy is down to the floor:

  • •  How is your sleep quantity?  You might be getting too much or too little sleep?  Even one hour of sleep debt can add up.
  • •  Sleep quality is also important.  Do you sleep deeply?  (If you have a newborn, hang in there.)
  • •  How about eating habits?  They are also major players, with inconsistencies in meals, meal skipping, and low-quality food choices, or CRAP (calorie rich and processed), sabotaging the best of efforts for energized living.  Eating too much or too little will also leave you wanting for energy (which sounds like a paradox) to do what you need to do.
  • •  Medical conditions and medication side effects are important to assess, so check in with your doctor here.
  • •  High anxiety and stress levels can drain you emotionally and physically.  Honestly, does worrying do any good whatsoever?
  • •  A lack of exercise begets feelings of slowness and a dip in the metabolism, which is already declining with age if you’re not actively doing something about it with strengthening exercises.  If you are training hard and a lot you’ve also got to allow your body to recover so do your best to listen to your body and recognize when it’s time to back it off just enough.

Exercise is known to be a natural energy booster and mood lifter. Whether because of endorphins, increased fitness, enhanced oxygen consumption, or a combination, no one can argue that regular exercise is a powerful antidote for fatigue.  If you hit it up first thing in your day after a restful night I does wonders for energizing your day.

As for your diet, consider working with a professional to dig deeper here.  If you aren’t getting enough essential fatty omega-3 fats, take this issue seriously and get those bad boys (really good though) in there.  Animal studies have shown that diets high in omega-3 fatty (and also antioxidants – think fresh vegetables and fruits) improve memory and cognition scores, and support a good mood.  A good mood equates to amazing energy in many scenarios.  Am I right?

Also, when it comes to vitamins and minerals, go for real food and the synergy that comes with the nutrients packaged together.  If you have low levels of iron, vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc, and/or magnesium, correcting deficiencies could be the means of reversing your energy drag. A nutrition professional can simplify all of this when it comes to making smart food choices and supplementing where necessary to get those micros into your diet.

Hydrate!  I definitely mean with water on this one.  It’s not uncommon to feel tired and slow or to get headaches from dehydration, but these symptoms are easily resolved with drinking enough H2O.

Get a health screening with your doctor to rule out thyroid conditions, hormonal imbalances, and other fatigue-causing diseases.

Lastly, remember that even if it’s called an energy bar or an energy drink, it doesn’t mean it’s your best choice to energize.  Save energy bars for on-the-go needs and avoid a lot of caffeine (meaning chronic intake) and coffee, as overdoing the latter two can backfire and lead to tanking later on.  This can lead to exhaustion and overcompensation with food, thus self-sabotage and feeling more sluggish. Caffeine has it’s place, but don’t overdo it.

Pump iron, get your heart rate up regularly (with exercise not anxiety), eat and hydrate well, sleep and de-stress. Find the outlets you need in your life, and where needed be sure to recruit help to make these wonderful things happen so that you can be more energized and invigorated to thus get the most out of life.  You only get one shot at this life, so make the most of your opportunities and be your best, most invigorated self.   You are so worth it.

All the best!

Jessica

 

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