Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Only Natural

If I had a quarter for every time someone insisted that what they were eating was healthy because it's "natural," well, let's just say street parking would not be a problem for me.

Here are two thoughts about "natural" products:

1)  There is no-- I repeat, NO regulation on the word "natural" in products.  All it means is that some portion of the product, at some point in time, came from a natural source.  It sounds healthy and lovely and whatnot, but theoretically, one could claim that Pop-tarts are "made with natural ingredients," since they have wheat in them.

2)  A lot of things are natural.  Sugar is natural.  Lard is natural.  Arsenic is natural.  Just because it's natural doesn't mean you should ingest it.

Also, "natural" and "unprocessed" are two different things.  I like the latter.  As a general rule. the closer it is to nature, the better it is for you.  So, for instance, an apple is better than apple juice is better than Apple Jacks.  Stick with veggies (lots and lots of veggies!!), fruits and (preferably raw/sprouted) nuts, minimally processed, healthy oils like coconut, olive, and avocado, sprouted beans and grains, and, if you eat meat, organic, humanely-raised, naturally-fed meat.  If it comes in a box or a bag and has a lot of ingredients, chances are it's not as "natural" as you think it is.  

On a side note, "Granola" also does not equate to "healthy" most of the time.  Most granolas are extremely high in sugar, and if it's from one of the major cereal companies, chances are, it's also fairly highly processed.  So make sure you check labels and stick to low or no sugar granola with high-quality, minimally-processed ingredients. 

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Psych!

It's amazing how much of a role psychology plays in your health.  I'm not talking about just for strength training (the mental aspect of that is fascinating and fodder for another blog), but for your general health habits as well.

One of the fun little things I like my clients to do is send me either a food diary or a photograph of everything they consume.  I like the photograph technique best, as it tends to keep people more honest.  I've found that with food diaries, people tend to "forget" snacks, underestimate portion sizes, practice quite a bit of-- let's call them "creative writing techniques"-- and such. 

Here's the thing-- while fudging your food diary might be good for your creativity, if it doesn't reflect reality, you're lying to yourself.  And if you're lying to yourself, you're the one who suffers for it in the end, as you're not going to reach your goals.

I have one client who, in her food diary each day, would include a fast food-type meal, cake, cookies, etc. and follow it up with, in parenthesis, (treat).  What this comes down to, psychologically, is that by calling these meals "treats," it makes them sound like they're once-in-a-while events when, in fact, she was "treating" herself every single day.  My advice to her was to stop calling them "treats" and admit her diet wasn't as clean as she was leading herself to believe, and then make the necessary steps to clean out the remaining dietary junk.

(Treat)


Another client of mine informed me that she was going on a business trip, and therefore her diet would suffer.  "There will be soda," she said.  My response to this was that she had a choice about the soda, and, for that matter, everything else she eats.  Business trips are not a rare occasion in her life, and using them as an excuse to jump off her fitness plan is simply not an option.  I actually used to be a computer consultant, and I would travel 5 out of 7 days a week.  I managed to eat healthfully no matter where they sent me-- I found out where the supermarkets were and bought veggies, and I perused restaurant menus for healthy options (they do exist, and a lot of places will custom-make a plate for you, too).  Ordering extra steamed vegetables, forgoing fried and/or sugary foods, sodas, juices, pastries, and breads/rice, and making smart entree choices is pretty easy in most towns.  So no, business travel is not an excuse.

I've also noticed a trend in clients prefacing any not-so-good food they eat with "a teeny tiny piece of..." or "just a really small amount of..." but, of course, no exact qualifiers.  How tiny is tiny?  Are you really being honest with yourself?  And, remember-- a lot of "tiny" adds up to one "big."

The fact of the matter is, if you tell yourself that eating junk is OK, you'll eat junk.  If you tell yourself it's OK to stop exercising, you'll stop.  If you give yourself permission to be unhealthy, you'll unhealthify yourself just like that.  On the converse, if you stop giving yourself loopholes and hold yourself accountable for how you treat your body, chances are, you'll be a lot nicer to it, and you'll be very happy with the results.

Think about it.  The choice is yours.

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pet Peeve of the Day: Rounded-back swing starts! Argh!!!

I've been seeing a lot of people trying to revert to a rounded-back swing start lately.  I'm not sure if it's because they think the first swing doesn't really count, or if it's lack of awareness, or if it's just laziness, but whatever the reason, it's a surefire way to injure your back.  So please, please, do your swings (and all your other movements, for that matter) correctly from the moment you set up!