Health

I love my fitbit!

fitbitlineupI started really trying to get healthy a few months ago. After my father died from Diabetes I was a mess for a bit and couldn’t really concentrate on anything. After about a year my brain started to defog and I could think rationally again. That’s when I made the decision to make sure Diabetes never takes me from my son.

I started taking nutrition classes, boxing classes, joined a gym and got myself a fitbit. At first I was a recreational user. I did my best to hit 10,000 steps. Some days I would go way over and some days I’d be lucky to make 7000. I figured it all worked itself out the wash, as long as I was averaging around 10,000 steps a day per week that was good enough. That was considered the average amount a person should be walking… Then I realized. I don’t want to be average!

I don’t want my life to be skating by just trying to make the grade. I could do 7000 steps a day without even trying. On a day that I actually went out and did things I was hitting more like 18,000 steps… isn’t that what I should be aiming for? What’s the point of spending the money and tracking your steps if you’re just going to be average?

What I LOVE about my fitbit is connecting to friends. I have this one friend who is completely insane. He does an average 0f 25,000 steps a day. He is in construction and a boxer and just in great shape. He invites all of his friends to different challenges and really gets everyone pumped. I love checking in at the end of the day. I love seeing my numbers stack up against other people’s. I am a tad bit competitive.

I love my fitbit because I have changed my goal from 10,000 steps a day to 15,000 steps a day and don’t settle for less. At the end of the night, if I’m not close I will pop on General Hospital (don’t judge) and run around my house with my phone or tablet and watch as the steps tick away. I love my fitbit because it keeps me aware. It makes me want to move. It makes being active a game. I love my fitbit because it’s helping me reach my goals to live longer for my son’s sake. 

PS. I am not affiliated in anyway with fitbit.. pick any tracker you like.

Health

#healthybodyimage

We are a country obsessed with size. The size of our TVs, houses… unmentionables.. and mostly our dress size. This is completely skewing what it means to be strong and healthy. I saw an article on Facebook about a guy who was outraged that his girlfriend’s “XL” top fit him just fine when he normally wore a small or medium sized men’s s13119068_10153502081641497_5650394151177940883_nhirt. He couldn’t believe how women’s clothes are so demeaning and making women feel bad by doing so…

There were lots of people commenting on both sides. One saying that women are made to
feel inferior if they’re not a size 2 and some saying that in actuality sizes now are even bigger than ones of yesteryear, but here’s the thing. He is a guy… yes, that makes a difference. Let’s say this guy was 5’9″ and had an average to small build, which is why he is in a small-medium sized men’s shirt. That would make sense. He is small to medium for a man. Now, let’s say his girlfriend was also 5’9″… still had a medium build, but now let’s throw in a good healthy bust area… guess what? She is large for a women. She just is.

I had this problem in high school and how it was handled completely screwed up my self image for a really long time. I am 5’10”. I also have a DD cup bra…. I am not small. I have not been small since I was a child. At age 11 I was 5’6″ 125 lbs. Yes, totally healthy and normal. I also had a B cup bra at that time. I was the size of a medium sized woman. And I was good and healthy. One of my best friends at the time was like 4’8″ and maybe 80 lbs. Again, completely normal and healthy, but I felt HUGE next to her.

No one bothered to explain that this was ok. That people came in different sizes and that my being “big” wasn’t a bad thing. My aunt told me that “someday I’d grow into my size”. I still don’t have any idea what she could have possibly meant by that. But I started to feel really fat. A couple years later I was up to 5’8″ 145 lbs and a C cup bra. Still, completely healthy. I was now in a Large. I felt like a tub a lub. It was horrible. My aunt decided to make me feel better she would start taking me shopping at the plus sized store “so I would be the smallest one in the store instead of the biggest”… yeah.. that’s encouraging.. it’s like saying… well sure you’re fat, but you’re not as fat as THEM.

My whole life changed after that. I was afraid to exercise in pubic.. even in gym class. I wore really big baggy clothes that just made me look huge and frumpy and I stopped caring about what I ate at all…. why should I? I’m already fat. My whole self worth was thrown in the toilet and I had a carnival mirror image of my body. As time went on I started to grow into the person that I thought that I was and my body got bigger and bigger and pretty soon I wasn’t the smallest person in that plus sized store.

Years later I was blessed with two amazing God daughters. Both of them completely gorgeous and both very tall with decent builds and muscle structures. When they each hit about 12 years old they started comparing their legs and arms to their friends who had smaller frames and were talking about how “fat” they felt. I remembered how I felt at that age and how I had wished some
one had straightened me out then before my habits got out of hand.
I explained that people are different. That height and muscles and bone structure makes a difference and that if they really looked they would see that there was hardly any fat to be found on their bodies. They each did the classic bend till a roll appeared on their belly.. I explained that skin is not fat. The funny thing is when I had this conversation with the younger one the older one was present. She said that she remembered the same conversation about 5 years earlier and that it really helped.

We are so concerned with being the right size that we forget that numbers aren’t the problem. I used to work with a girl who was trying to get into the Army. She was not very tall but she was extremely muscular. She had played sports all through high school and college and had built up quite the physique. The problem was according to the BMI charts she was fat. Well over the average. When she went for her physical she almost failed based on the paperwork, but when they tested her body fat count she was at 6%. Needless to say, she got into the Army and did quite well there, but had someone not bothered to look past the numbers on the paperwork a very strong very healthy young woman could have been turned awashley-graham-sub-600x800ay under false pretenses.

Now the world is going crazy about this new plus sized model that’s hitting all the covers. People are saying that we shouldn’t glorify obesity… I COULDN’T AGREE MORE! The only thing is, Ashley Graham and girls like her aren’t obese. They are simply large. She has hips. She has boobs. She has muscles. She has healthy body fat. She is one of those girls who, like me, could either be the largest one in the “normal” sized store or the smallest in the plus sized store.

Sizes, weights, BMI.. they are just numbers. They are not an actual representation of health. They are not any representation of beauty. We need to start becoming a society of #healthybodyimage and not #sizematters.

Health

What happened when I stopped drinking coffee

Everyone keeps writing about the health benefits of giving up coffee… so I tried it.

  1. I yelled at my kid

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2. I didn’t get off the couch

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3. I hated my boyfriend

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It was the hardest 2 hours of my life!

In actuality coffee isn’t bad for you. It’s full of antioxidants and great for energy and tastes good too. It can be a great treat and motivate you to start your day. It can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s, certain kinds of cancer and Alzheimer’s. It also boosts your metabolism to help you burn fat. It’s what you put in your coffee that matters. Coffee is a wonder bean. Cream, sugar, mocha swirl, and/or caramel… not so much.

Health

The sad reason my Facebook friends list is dwindling

I was just casually scrolling my Facebook feed when I saw it again. Another friend had a heart attack. Thank God he is fine, but it amazes me how often I see those post roll past. I’m only 40. My friends are only in their 40s and yet there it is, “I’m fine now, but just letting you know, I had a heart attack”.

Now I want to start by saying that I’m not blaming anyone and there is no judgement here. I am in no shape, literally or figuratively to judge anyone, but the sad thing is that most of the time these attacks can be prevented. They are simply the result of bad habits.

People thwearredink they only happen to old men. Men who have lived their whole lives eating steak and butter and cheese. The truth is 1/3 of women’s deaths are due to heart disease, and 48% of women have cholesterol levels of at least 200mg/dl, yet we don’t talk about this. Our women’s magazines are all about “How to lose 20 lbs in 20 days” or “How to lose 4 dress sizes by summer”. Our culture is more obsessed with being skinny than being healthy. We are more obsessed with looking good than actually living.

Now that I have my son I’m not concerned as much about how I look in my jeans as I am in making sure that I’m alive to see him graduate from high school. I want to watch him walk down the isle. I want to meet his children and watch them grow. My father died a month after my son’s second birthday. He had diabetes. He had heart disease. He had bad habits that grew into horrible diseases. I have made the decision to change my life
. My father had a million wonderful attributes that I want to pass down to my son, but diabetes and heart disease aren’t on that list.

My friends list is sadly starting to wane. Not because we outgrew each other or drama blocking… but because diseases are taking them one by one. I don’t want to be the next on the list.

Well, here’s a new list for you:

HOW TO LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL… thank you Mayo Clinic:

1. Eat heart-healthy foods

 Even if you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt, making a few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health.
  • Choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and dairy products, raise your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. As a rule, you should get less than 7 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat. Choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy and monounsaturated fats — found in olive and canola oils — for healthier options.
  • Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats affect cholesterol levels by increasing the “bad” cholesterol and lowering the “good” cholesterol. This bad combination increases the risk of heart attacks. Trans fats can be found in fried foods and many commercial products, such as cookies, crackers and snack cakes. But don’t rely on packages that are labeled “trans fat-free.” In the United States, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat in a serving, it can be labeled “trans fat-free.”Even small amounts of trans fat can add up if you eat foods that contain small amounts of trans fat. Read the ingredient list, and avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol. They have other heart benefits, such as helping to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol, reducing your triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood, and reducing blood pressure. Some types of fish — such as salmon, mackerel and herring — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds.
  • Increase soluble fiber. There are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble. Both have heart-health benefits, but soluble fiber also helps lower your LDL levels. You can add soluble fiber to your diet by eating oats and oat bran, fruits, beans, lentils, and vegetables.
  • Add whey protein. Whey protein is one of two proteins in dairy products — the other is casein. Whey protein may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL and total cholesterol.You can find whey protein powders in health food stores and some grocery stores. Follow the package directions for how to use them.

2. Exercise on most days of the week and increase your physical activity

 Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. With your doctor’s OK, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Adding physical activity, even in 10-minute intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Just be sure that you can keep up the changes you decide to make. Consider:

  • Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
  • Riding your bike to work
  • Swimming laps
  • Playing a favorite sport

To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy or join an exercise group. And remember, any activity is helpful. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing a few situps while watching television can make a difference.

 3. Quit smoking

 If you smoke, stop. Quitting might improve your HDL cholesterol level. And the benefits don’t end there.

Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Within one year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is similar to someone who never smoked

4. Lose weight

 Carrying even a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your weight can improve cholesterol levels.

Start by evaluating your eating habits and daily routine. Consider your challenges to weight loss and ways to overcome them.

 Small changes add up. If you eat when you’re bored or frustrated, take a walk instead. If you pick up fast food for lunch every day, pack something healthier from home. For snacks, munch on carrot sticks or air-popped popcorn instead of potato chips. Don’t eat mindlessly.

And look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office.

5. Drink alcohol only in moderation

Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol — but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

Too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough …

Sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol levels. Make sure the changes you make are ones you can continue to do, and don’t be disappointed if you don’t see results immediately. If your doctor recommends medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed, but continue your lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help you keep your medication dose low

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Health, Uncategorized

Dieting is Making us Fat

It sounds contradictory, but the reality is that people don’t usually diet to get healthy. They diet to lose weight. They diet to look better. They cut calories and entire food groups out of their DIET. They switch to artificial sweeteners and low fat options all in the name of “eating better”. They forget that our bodies actually need food. It’s how we live.

When I started my journey to become more healthy I didn’t just go the same old route of reading some magazine with the cover “lose 20 lbs in 20 days”. I’ve done that before..and it’s great. 20 days later you feel awesome. 40 days later the weight is back on and then some. That ever happen to you? Do you wonder why after you stop a diet you end up bigger than you started a few months later? I’m seeing articles about it all the time now. Even the hit show “The Biggest Loser” has winning contestants who are coming out saying that they have gained a lot of the weight back and it just keeps piling on.

When I made the choice to actually get healthy and not just skinny. When I made the choice to LIVE for my son and for me. I made the choice to change my life. That’s really the problem with diets. There’s no get skinny quick trick. There’s no magic pill to health. There is only lifestyle changes.

When I made the choice to get healthy and not just skinny I started taking nutrition classes. I started learning about how the food I put in my body effects everything from fatigue and illness, to my complexion. I learned how all the calorie cutting and fake sugars b5750867ad37b1aac935ba86672f5559 (1)affected my metabolism over the years and actually caused me to gain weight. The meme to the right spoke volumes to me. We all remember when we first started thinking that we were fat and the diet yo-yo began. We would starve ourselves and only drink diet sodas. We’d cut carbs and fat and the weight would fall off and then we’d be so DONE dieting we’d eat a whole cake… pizza… tub of ice cream… pick your poison.

This is because our bodies actually need calories. It actually needs carbs and fats and all these things that we have been taught are so bad for us… they just need the right ones and not so many. When we deprive our bodies of carbs or fats our bodies basically get scared. They hold on to the ones they have like a grandma with old cookie tins. They know they’re gonna need those carbs and fats at some point to burn into energy and if you’re not going to be giving them new ones every so often they are going to hoard the ones they get. This is also where fatigue hits… calories=energy. If we cut out too much our bodies scream back at us and we cave and end up eating even more than we would have at the start… and now our bodies are so used to storing it becomes the fist line of defense.

I’m not going to get into a whole class on caloric breakdown, that’s not what I’m here for. What I am going to do is remind everyone that EATING IS GOOD. Our bodies are designed for it. It’s what we eat that matters. We need need to eat good… real foods on a regular basis. Food that fills us. Food that tastes good. Food that does its job. And we have to not think of a diet as a quick fix but as what a DIET actually is, “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”